While the traditional East Coast Mecca’s of Maryland and New York are under a miserable blanket of snow and freeze that cracks the toughest polymer heads and frozen lacrosse balls dishearten the toughest of sweatpant clad goaltenders, the top Club Programs and players in the West are battling it out in 75 degree sunshine on 11 fields only a short walk to the beach in front of 75 college coaches.
The Adrenaline Challenge is in its 9th year of existence and it’s easy to understand why it has become one of the premier recruiting tournaments in the West. The combination of January sunshine, the top club teams in the West and 75 NCAA recruiters has put this tournament on the map as a must for competitive teams and NCAA programs looking to expand their recruiting base.
The 2009 Adrenaline Challenge saw 70 teams over three divisions competing over 2 days in San Diego. Divisions were divided into Elite Boys, High School Boys and Elite Girls. As usual with Adrenaline “Team Programs”, the best clubs from WA, UT, ID, NorCal, SoCal, NV, AZ, TX, OR, Victoria BC and Edmonton BC were in attendance. They came together to represent every pocket of lacrosse in the West in addition to some East Coast Long Island flavor peppered in. “Last year we had a ridiculously high level of competition at the event. Teams we more evenly matched than we have ever had before. It really was a testament to the skill level of all the players on each of these teams. All of us thought that it legitimately represented the best the West had to offer for club teams,” said Alex Cade Adrenaline President. The 2009 Elite boys division was won by Fog City, hailing from NorCal, which included players from the perennial powerhouse St. Ignatius. To illustrate the level of competition both of the final four games were 1 goal overtime contests. The Girls Elite division was won by the LaxDawgs, coming from host city San Diego.
The 2010 Challenge is expecting to offer an even higher level of competition than the previous year. Rory Doucette, VP of Team Programs explains, “We have received entries not only from the top teams from last year but also from some of the better teams we have been missing in years past, including some tremendous Canadian teams. There is no doubt that we will have a level of competition that has not been seen yet in the West, continuing the tradition of improving the quality of this event each year. We’re very excited to see this kind of play in the Elite bracket and in the younger HS bracket as well.”
This news will come as an added bonus to a group of 75 recruiters from NCAA D3, D2 & MCLA programs that all make the tough trip leaving places such as the Midwest and New England, that offer lovely conditions in early January. Coach Dave Campbell, from NCAA Division 3 mega power Middlebury College, will once again be one of the directors for the Challenge. Along with Ryan Wellner, NCAA Division 1 Asst. Coach at Stonybrook, Coach Campbell will be in charge of setting the NCAA recruiters up with clinics and chalk talks among other things, creating a hands on experience and making the weekend that much more personal for the participating athletes. On the girl’s side, Jill Albee, NCAA Division 1 Asst. Coach from the University of Richmond will team up with Duke Asst. coach Alex Kahoe to serve as the directors. Coach Campbell explains, “It is a tremendous experience each year at the Adrenaline Challenge. From a college coach’s standpoint it really allows us to get ahead of the game with western recruits by seeing them in a competitive setting in January. It also allows some of the guys to fill in some last minute holes in their current (2010) recruiting class that regrettably happen to all of us. It doesn’t hurt its in San Diego either.” Teams will play a tough 5 game schedule over a two day period to maximize possible exposure for each player. “The improvement you see in athletes after playing at this level of competition with this many games over a short time is truly remarkable” says Cade.
Beyond games, players also improve from the added bonus of incredible clinic instruction. Doucette explains, “We are always certain that we do a good job of ensuring that these kids get the best out of every recruiter in attendance. They all love to coach and hold clinics for the players from the West, as the athletes are not presented with the opportunity to learn from and be evaluated by this level of coaches often. We hope that everyone realizes that it is a rare occasion to have this many college coaches in one spot recruiting and holding this many high level clinics in the West”. Advanced clinics are held continuously on various topics throughout both days by some of the top NCAA coaches in the country for players.
The final touches for the tournament include the vendor village which is almost entirely made up of food vendors with a San Diego flavor. Burritos, churros, street tacos, smoothies and the world famous Hodads’s burgers are amongst the food vendors to enjoy. “Sometimes I wonder whether the San Diego community comes out to watch the games or to eat the delicious food. Pretty sure the answer is B for me” Kaitlin Swagert VP of Grassroots Marketing. Added bonuses include excellent online media coverage from Inside Lacrosse and West Side Lax further exposing western athletes. Players will also be eligible to be ranked in the prestigious Inside Lacrosse Young Guns and WSL T25 rankings. Game footage and recruiting packages will be available for sale through TVX Video for the event. Each player will also receive a complimentary one year subscription to Inside Lacrosse magazine with the winners from each division featured in upcoming editions of the magazine.
The Middle School and Youth Challenge takes place the following weekend, January 16th-17th and will feature teams from CA, OR, WA, NV, TX, AZ and Western Canada. This Challenge will also feature NCAA coaches doing clinics and offering hands on learning experiences for both the players and the coaches in attendance, along with prizes and giveaways from Adrenaline Lacrosse and their sponsors.
For more info or to enter teams go to www.adrenalinelacrosse.com and click on “Team Programs”.