LaxBuzz recently asked St. Ignatius Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Chris Packard to answer questions regarding his 2009 Wildcat team and prospects for the upcoming 2010 team. He gave some very insightful answers that both confirm and surprise about what it takes to be California’s premier lacrosse program.
LAXBUZZ: Your 2009 season was a great success. How many seniors and starters did you lose to graduation?
CHRIS PACKARD: We lost a host of graduating seniors that played huge roles for St. Ignatius. At starting attack (each guy is playing D1 college ball), the best shut down defenseman we saw play that’s also gone on to play D1, an entire midfield that will be playing college lacrosse (D1, D3 & club), and a bevy of other players that were instrumental in our team’s success. Fortunately for SI we’re used to losing players to graduation and the incoming crop of players is excited to prove that they belong at the top of CA lacrosse.
LAXBUZZ: Could you describe the strengths of the 2009 varsity squad and what do the strengths and weaknesses of the 2010 varsity team look to be?
CHRIS PACKARD: The strengths of 2009 were our experience and our depth. We also had great team chemistry and 2009’s team liked to work. 2010 will be different in that we’re going to have a lot of new faces starting on defense & attack but we’re confident the 2010 squad will share the passion for hard work and will continue to raise the skill level and speed at which the game is played.
LAXBUZZ: Do you watch NCAA Division I lacrosse teams and incorporate any of their plays or schemes into St. Ignatius offense and defense? Do your teams reflect the talent levels of the individual players and you make changes accordingly?
CHRIS PACKARD: Saturdays are reserved for watching NCAA lacrosse games. We don’t like to schedule games on Saturday afternoons b/c we think that time is best spent by our boys in front of a college game. The boys take many of the individual moves and try to incorporate them into their own repertoire at practice during the week (usually unsuccessfully!). Our program has a very simple approach to the game & we try not to confuse our guys w/ complicated schemes. The boys usually come to me w/ a play or a set they saw on TV that they’d like to try rather than me implementing a new offense or defense.
LAXBUZZ: Do you actively assist your Juniors and Seniors with the college recruiting process? What is best thing a high school coach can do to prepare his players for the next level?
CHRIS PACKARD: The recruiting process is challenging but we are actively involved in helping our student athletes. I think the best advice for a coach is to educate himself & the parent’s of his/her players about the process of recruiting & how early the process is started. It’s unfortunate that it’s gone this route but colleges are selecting players earlier than ever. If your son or daughter is serious about playing lacrosse at the next level its important to find outlets where players can compete against their peers while being seen by college coaches. Right now, that remains predominantly on the east coast although there are several west coast summer camps (California Gold & Adrenaline Shootout) that are attracting college coaches.
LAXBUZZ: Is Strength and Performance Training becoming an important part of the St. Ignatius program? Do you have your own Strength and Conditioning coach or do you hire an outside trainer to assist during the off-season and pre-season?
CHRIS PACKARD: SI is fortunate to have lots of multi-sport athletes playing lacrosse. Through other sports our players have been taught how to properly use a weight room, so many of our guys are comfortable working out on their own in the weight room, and many do so together after school. During the season we use SI’s strength and conditioning coach to keep practices from becoming monotonous, but once games start we don’t have much time apart from the field. We encourage our players to remain physically fit throughout the year & most of the off-season training is done on their own.