Youth lax clubs

NJ_CO_RU

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NJ guys, who would you say are the most competitive youth lax clubs in NJ right now? For the younger ages, say 2023-2025. Curious if anyone has any thoughts about clubs in other states as well.

Cali - assuming CA is Santa Monica Dragons, ADVNC & Starz.
 

NJ_CO_RU

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It kind of depends on where you are located and how much you are willing to drive. In NJ the top programs are Leading Edge, Patriot, 2 Knights, Blue Star. Patriot teams are ok at the younger ages, Blue Star is focused more in the southern part of central jersey. Central NJ its 2 Knights. But all of these team offer things that others may not. There are a ton of teams in NJ enough for you to simply play somewhere local until you decide what your son really wants to do. I would stay away from town teams unless you live in Ridgewood, as their HS coach does a good job of keeping the young kids together. If you are looking in Cali I think that Nations United is located their and they are very good. WCS are also very good. In PA it's Dukes and NXT. On LI it's Igloo, team 91, and LI Express. Upstate NY is Primetime.
Thanks. I actually coach a club out in Denver and we've go to the east coast every summer to see how we fair against the LI clubs. Working with some people to set something up in either NJ or Philly next summer. NJ club lax seems more fragmented (perhaps too many clubs diluting the talent?) than other areas.

It's kind of tricky coming back east since you never know who is showing up at a tourney. We came back east for a tourney we thought everyone would be at and it ended up being terrible. Ended up having to play up a year (more than held our own though). Thankfully, we supplemented the trip by scrimmaging a few of the top LI clubs so it all worked out. Trying to nail down who is going where before we make the trek again. thanks for the feedback.
 

NJ_CO_RU

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Ok, good to know. I would actually avoid NJ tournaments generally they are small and do not attract great teams. we are based out of NJ and only do 1 NJ a summer the rest we do have either been in PA or on LI. WE send our younger kids out to Hershey ever year with our younger kids and it is pretty competitive. It is run by the guy that runs the Annapolis Hawks (who are very good) Hershey also is far enough west to get some good midwestern teams and they also attract good teams from Va. Like I said the NXT youth event is good. your basic concern is the real issue, the summer is now over saturated with events and you have a hard time finding more than a few good programs that go and continue to go to any of these events. We won an event but probably will not go back because the competition was good at the end but weak on day one.

Hope that this helps.
Thanks. What age groups do you coach?
 

Caliknight

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NJ guys, who would you say are the most competitive youth lax clubs in NJ right now? For the younger ages, say 2023-2025. Curious if anyone has any thoughts about clubs in other states as well.

Cali - assuming CA is Santa Monica Dragons, ADVNC & Starz.
Sorry, just saw this. I am not too up on the youth scene here. Wish I could help.
 

RUMountie

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My son (2022) plays for Evolution Lacrosse Academy. This is only their 2nd year in existence and the growth has been amazing
both in terms of numbers and quality of the performance. Matt Podwoski is the Founder and President of the club and he does
a great job growing and managing this club team. They draw primarily from Montclair and Essex county so they get alot of good multiple sport athletes
who also play football, basketball, etc. Their teams went from getting crushed most of the time their first year to multiple teams making the finals in several tournaments
this past June. Not sure what tier they would be relative to the more established programs but they will be a top tier program if they continue to
grow at this rate.
 

Roy_Faulker

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Feb 7, 2002
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What about TriLax - they still around?

I help run a youth program in central Ohio and there has been a concerted effort to cultivate local community programs and resist the elite club invasion. We have a few (True and a local outfit called Resolite) but that's largely it.
 
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Roy_Faulker

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The elite teams play summer ball out here but spring ball is largely for community programs.

Interesting that your teams run through 8th grade. In central Ohio our schools largely have middle school teams so the youth programs run through 6th grade. Until this upcoming year (a 2nd youth league is starting) we haven't adhered to the US lacrosse age guidelines and played by grade.

Agree for recruiting - but is mostly for the older age groups anyway I'd guess. When I was being recruited we didn't have club teams and they found you in high school.
 

NJ_CO_RU

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The elite teams play summer ball out here but spring ball is largely for community programs.

Interesting that your teams run through 8th grade. In central Ohio our schools largely have middle school teams so the youth programs run through 6th grade. Until this upcoming year (a 2nd youth league is starting) we haven't adhered to the US lacrosse age guidelines and played by grade.

Agree for recruiting - but is mostly for the older age groups anyway I'd guess. When I was being recruited we didn't have club teams and they found you in high school.
Resolute has some kind of connection with OSU's head coach Meyer's. Not sure if he is a owner or just a friend of the program. True is one of those national programs (which kind of irk me). They are out of Chicago. They come in and buy small market successful programs...jury is out if they have the kids and parents best interests at heart.
 

NJ_CO_RU

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Tri-State has split and become Tri-State and Blue Star. True State has become very up and down they can a have very good year (there 2025s are very good but several of there other teams are weaker and they are less state wide and more focused in the Mercer county area.

Nick was actually coaching the 21's this summer as we played against them. Nick, is a good guy and I am sure he is doing this in the best interest of the kids. A lot of teams are looking at the kind of add on model. 3D started it but teams like 91, Dukes, Trilogy and Igloo have done the same thing with limited success. We have been approached a couple of times about being absorbed by one of these programs.
The national model is really starting to irk me. It's starting to irk me that its becoming like soccer in that they are putting pressure on these kids to quit every other sport and specialize. Either you want kids to play multiple sports because you believe it makes them better athletes, or you don't. I am finding these clubs all use the party line of "play other sports" but they hope the kids don't.
 

NJ_CO_RU

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Tri-State has split and become Tri-State and Blue Star. True State has become very up and down they can a have very good year (there 2025s are very good) but several of there other teams are weaker and they are less state wide and more focused in the Mercer county area. As for the other part of your post several teams in NJ tried to maintain the team approach in the summer but struggled for a few reasons, including level of play and recruiting. I have spoken to several college coaches who state flatly that they would rather go watch a club team with 10 -12 prospects on it versus a town team with 1. Now I understand that at younger ages they like to play with there friends and in Ohio you may not have has many choices as they do here in NJ but just wait it is coming especially if US Lacrosse goes through with their proposed club team rankings.
Are the Turco's still involved in Tri-State or are they running Blue Star?
 

gef21

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Tri-State has split and become Tri-State and Blue Star. True State has become very up and down they can a have very good year (there 2025s are very good) but several of there other teams are weaker and they are less state wide and more focused in the Mercer county area. As for the other part of your post several teams in NJ tried to maintain the team approach in the summer but struggled for a few reasons, including level of play and recruiting. I have spoken to several college coaches who state flatly that they would rather go watch a club team with 10 -12 prospects on it versus a town team with 1. Now I understand that at younger ages they like to play with there friends and in Ohio you may not have has many choices as they do here in NJ but just wait it is coming especially if US Lacrosse goes through with their proposed club team rankings.
Tri State diluted their player base too much. They used to be the elite of the elite but now they have a million teams.
 

Caliknight

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The national model is really starting to irk me. It's starting to irk me that its becoming like soccer in that they are putting pressure on these kids to quit every other sport and specialize. Either you want kids to play multiple sports because you believe it makes them better athletes, or you don't. I am finding these clubs all use the party line of "play other sports" but they hope the kids don't.
I can't speak to what the clubs are doing, you guys would know much more than me in that regard, but if they are telling kids no other sports, that's really detrimental.
 

gef21

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I can't speak to what the clubs are doing, you guys would know much more than me in that regard, but if they are telling kids no other sports, that's really detrimental.
I think the issue arises when clubs plan fall, winter, and summer activities (box, foot work, the summer season etc.) Many clubs do not tell kids to do every season but some elite clubs will favor the players who do all 3 seasons. Those players also get a lot better stick wise with the extra seasons.
 

NJ_CO_RU

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I think the issue arises when clubs plan fall, winter, and summer activities (box, foot work, the summer season etc.) Many clubs do not tell kids to do every season but some elite clubs will favor the players who do all 3 seasons. Those players also get a lot better stick wise with the extra seasons.
You get the line of, "play other sports" but it's really, "play other sports but not at the expense of lacrosse", or "play other sports and lacrosse...but lacrosse comes first". I get the conundrum of clubs, you don't want kids putting down the stick at the end of the season and not picking it up for a few months. There is a happy medium however.
I coach a highly competitive 2025 team. We routinely enter 2024 tournaments and win. We went out east this past summer and beat some very well known 25 Long Island teams (clubs routinely in the world series of lax finals). We also played the Dukes National 2024 team and beat them by 7 goals. Of the 18 kids on my team, the worst athletes are the ones that only play lacrosse. At then end of the season, the parents came up to me and asked me how their kids could get more play time. I said, "play other sports", and I really mean it.

As an aside, my kids went to a Face Off academy clinic which was run by Rutgers Chris Matthes. At the end of the clinic, Matthes gave a long talk to the kids about not specializing and playing other sports. Kind of funny since everyone there was super specialized, but nonetheless I really appreciate him saying that.
 

Caliknight

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I think the issue arises when clubs plan fall, winter, and summer activities (box, foot work, the summer season etc.) Many clubs do not tell kids to do every season but some elite clubs will favor the players who do all 3 seasons. Those players also get a lot better stick wise with the extra seasons.
That may be true, but burn out must be an issue. No one will convince me playing different sports isn't good for your lacrosse game. Mentally and physically. Basketball concepts and speed, football physicality, hockey physicality and hands are all super helpful to lacrosse. I have had this conversation with more than a few lacrosse players, All American players, and every time it's the same answer. Playing other sports helped them.

Unfortunately, I guess you don't get seen as much.
 

NJ_CO_RU

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That may be true, but burn out must be an issue. No one will convince me playing different sports isn't good for your lacrosse game. Mentally and physically. Basketball concepts and speed, football physicality, hockey physicality and hands are all super helpful to lacrosse. I have had this conversation with more than a few lacrosse players, All American players, and every time it's the same answer. Playing other sports helped them.

Unfortunately, I guess you don't get seen as much.
That's the rub.
 

Caliknight

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We have this challenge with my nephew right now. He is really good at lacrosse, but other sports as well. He is a kid. He loves them all the same. My brother isn't going to have him stop playing those sports. He is young so there is some time, but it is what it is.

He will be going to an MIAA school so hopefully that alone will give him the exposure missing some of these tournaments would otherwise give him. When you got to powerhouse schools, which NJ has as a number of as well, it's probably easier to make that decision.
 

rufamily

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sports specialization in lacrosse is not as bad here as other sports like soccer and basketball. I as a club maintain that you should play other sports but, if you are not we will give you and avenue to stay in shape and get better. We do not recommend fall athletes to play fall league as we feel their body needs to rest, same in the winter, but if you are a football lacrosse guy playing winter league one day a week is not going to kill you. The real worry starts when they club teams attempt to have spring practices and play days especially for the younger kids, if they play in a club league in the spring they get maybe 1 practice a week and then 4 games in a tournament 3-4 times. But, those dates will always conflict with your in town schedule. Then you compare the coaching, a professional vs. a volunteer Dad, in our town the cost of playing on the rec team is nearly the same as it would be to play in a spring league. and It is having an effect on the Rec teams as more of the "good" kids are playing in these spring club leagues and leaving few kids in the town rec teams. The next thing becomes the soccer model where the club team tells you that you can not play for your (Rec/ HS team) it already happens in NJ in several sports including Soccer, Swimming, and Hockey. Hopefully it never comes to that but we will see.
 
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RUMountie

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sports specialization in lacrosse is not as bad here as other sports like soccer and basketball. I as a club maintain that you should play other sports but, if you are not we will give you and avenue to stay in shape and get better. We do not recommend fall athletes to play fall league as we feel their body needs to rest, same in the winter, but if you are a football lacrosse guy playing winter league one day a week is not going to kill you. The real worry starts when they club teams attempt to have spring practices and play days especially for the younger kids, if they play in a club league in the spring they get maybe 1 practice a week and then 4 games in a tournament 3-4 times. But, those dates will always conflict with your in town schedule. Then you compare the coaching, a professional vs. a volunteer Dad, in our town the cost of playing on the rec team is nearly the same as it would be to play in a spring league. and It is having an effect on the Rec teams as more of the "good" kids are playing in these spring club leagues and leaving few kids in the town rec teams. The next thing becomes the soccer model where the club team tells you that you can not play for your (Rec/ HS team) it already happens in NJ in several sports including Soccer, Swimming, and Hockey. Hopefully it never comes to that but we will see.
I hope lacrosse and football never gets like soccer. Besides the fact that I hate soccer for a plethora of reasons not the least of which is because its the most boring sport in the world, many soccer programs are trying to forbid young athletes from playing other sports which is despicable. Any sport program that tries to forbid my children from playing others sports can fuk themselves.
 
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Roy_Faulker

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This is the scenario our league is trying to head off at the pass. It ultimately hirts the game as new kids or kids playing below the level of the kids who make the club teams never get exposed to playing with the more advanced kids...which hurts their growth.
 
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gef21

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I hope lacrosse and football never gets like soccer. Besides the fact that I hate soccer for a plethora of reasons not the least of which is because its the most boring sport in the world, many soccer programs are trying to forbid young athletes from playing other sports which is despicable. Any sport program that tries to forbid my children from playing others sports can fuk themselves.
Many club soccer teams do not allow their players to play for their high school teams.
 

RUengg1991

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Actually a lot of what goes into this is not available to me. How old is your son? what is his skill level? I am assuming that you live in that area. There are many levels of club teams in NJ and Thunder ( I know the guys that run Thunder and they are nice guys) probably finds its home somewhere in the 3rd tier along with programs like Turnpike and Transition, but better than programs like Emeralds and Force. BBL and NJ Riot are both better in that area but I would be careful of BBL as I know several kids who are unhappy with their recruiting progress under BBL.
If your son is younger you should be looking for a program and emphasizes development. I hope that this helps.
Thanks for your input. My son is a 2023 and is typically one of the better athletes on the field. He uses both hands very well. We thought about BBL because one of his rec teammates plays for them. As it turns out, a bunch of his rec teammates also made the Thunder squad. For 2 working parents with other kids in other sports, having a ride to practice from a neighbor sometimes trumps everything else. Thanks again for your input!