Tag Archives: for profit

How National For Profit Organizations Are Tearing Florida Lacrosse Apart

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They may have offered an olive branch and partial retraction in their letter to the editor to US Lacrosse Magazine and also parted ways with Kevin Dugan, but Sweetlax did not go remotely far enough in making atonement and helping to reverse the damage they wreaked on our previously growing lacrosse community. What happened here, however, is really just a microcosm of what is occurring across the state of Florida youth lacrosse with Sweetlax and others like them vying to carve out their little lacrosse for profit fiefdoms in a still this emerging lacrosse market; and in the process, destroying years of progress made in the sport of lacrosse built mostly on volunteers that love the sport.

Before I go on here, I want to be clear that by “for profit,” I am not lumping in every organization in the state of Florida that runs lacrosse program in a for profit organization. There are many local organizations within the state like Lacrosse Club Orlando that not only honor the game with top notch training programs via paid coaches, but have done their part as much as anyone in growing lacrosse at the youth level in the state of Florida; hence the designation “National” in the title of this post. While seemingly a new national for profit expands into Florida every day, there are three in particular engaged in an epic pissing match for lacrosse supremacy in the state of Florida: The Crabs, True Lacrosse, and the aforementioned Sweetlax.

These organizations have pervaded Florida to recruit our home grown youth lacrosse players with promises of lacrosse glory at the national ranks and dangling the ultimate prize of a college lacrosse scholarships. In many cases they have infiltrated locally built grassroots level lacrosse clubs as “partners” promising to provide coaching pipelines and support the growth of lacrosse. In most cases, these promises have been empty, resulting in few new coaches, no growth support, but significantly increased fees for participation.

Pundits and coaches within these national for profit organizations relentlessly try to convince families of the inferiority of their local club and keep some that drink their Kool-Aid changing lacrosse clubs as often as they change their underwear. As much disregard as they have for grassroots lacrosse clubs, they dislike each other even more. They head hunt one another’s coaches and players and engage in so much vitriol about the opposition that they have parents abysmally behaving on the sidelines during contentious games.

The net result of all this is families being led to believe that their community team is not good enough for their kid, left clamoring to figure out which for profit is the one that will bring their child that coveted lacrosse scholarship, and turning off families new to the sport they once thought was so promising but now dismiss it as a hateful, money grabbing, shit show. Nowhere have these consequences played out to the detriment of lacrosse than in the once thriving Florida lacrosse communities Brevard, Indian River, and Martin Counties, all now experiencing an overall decrease in participation at all levels.

But alas, all is not lost! Our strategy to combat this trend here in Brevard is a renewed focus on youth development and bringing new kids into the sport at a time when they are to young to be on the radar of national for profits. As they age up and are seeking more top level training and competition, we have partnered with Lacrosse Club Orlando to run our travel programs. As previously stated, they are a local for profit in the nearest major city to Brevard County that has grown an impressive and reputable organization that I have always enjoyed mutual respect with when I was the president of the local club here for over 12 years. Being under their umbrella that has enjoyed steady growth while using their scope and depth of organization to keep the circling sharks at bay, we hope to rebuild and insulate ourselves from the chaos wrought by national for profit lacrosse companies.

I would love to read comments about the experience of youth lacrosse in the age of the national for profits in other areas of Florida and around the country. Please feel free to share your experiences and solutions if you can offer any.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton, aka, Dr. Lax, was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail of Love, president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Profit Motivated Coaches And Organizations Are Bad For Youth And High School Lacrosse

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The Scourge Of For Profit Youth Lacrosse Teams Is Bad For The GameIn my little corner of the world of the Florida Space Coast in an area very steeped in the traditional school sports, the introduction of lacrosse has been an uphill climb.  With the first elements of lacrosse having been seeded in 2008, while the game continues to grow, it is still very much in the emerging sport category.  Although our lacrosse growth is a very positive development, it was only a matter of time before we would draw the attention of a growing problem in our sport: the for profit organizations and coaches that aim to pick away at established not for profit clubs and leagues with the promise of the best coaching in the world and a path to a Division I scholarship at a marquis college lacrosse program.

Having played along side incredible talent from my home state of New Jersey, having come from a high school program that has yielded a lot of Division I talent and to date has seen 6 players have success in the professional Major League Lacrosse, I have a unique perspective and insight into the world of Division I lacrosse.  The truth is, Division I scholarships are very rare.  Even top talent coming out of lacrosse hot beds like New Jersey, New York and Maryland often feel very fortunate to earn a no scholarship roster spot or receive partial scholarships at best.

Thus, while players should all strive to be the best lacrosse athletes they can possibly be, a coach who understands sports and is being honest will tell you that as much great coaching as a player gets, it is ultimately up to the player to perform.  Many factors that cannot be taught, such as innate speed, physical size, strength, and demeanor, go into the entire player package.  Does good coaching help facilitate that?  Of course it does, but it will only take a player so far.

What’s more, just because a coach may charge parents a fortune to play for his team does not make him necessarily a better option.  Case in point, in the not for profit youth lacrosse club I preside over, we have 6 boys coaches with college playing experience (3 from Division I programs) and three girls coaches with Division I and Division II playing experience.  Double that number are US Lacrosse Level II and III Certified.  Just because we choose to volunteer our time for the kids and love of the game does not diminish what we bring to them in their lacrosse development.

I will tell you clearly what we are NOT doing, filling families with delusions of grandeur that their only path to a Division I scholarship is through us.  That kind of propaganda as as unethical as it is untrue.  Unfortunately, there are parents out there that drink the Kool-Aid and break out their check books so that little Johnny will be assured that roster spot at Johns Hopkins one day.

In the end, it is generally not the parents of the best players who fall for the draw of the for profit rhetoric, but more commonly it is the parents of the average or slightly above average player.  As parents, we naturally have pride in our children and want them to succeed.  However, this pride sometimes leads parents having an unrealistic outlook of their child’s innate talent.  If he or she is not getting the playing time that the parent expects or their performance leaves them far short of being stars of the team, it cannot be that their child’s talent has limits, it must be because of the coaching.

For profit entities in the sport also cause animosity and discord in communities that are otherwise tight nit.  Because their livelihood depends on it, they often do not stop at puffing our their chests and touting their lacrosse resumes and credentials, but they belittle the selfless and tireless efforts of volunteers that have given their their precious time, hearts, and souls to the community, the sport, and the kids.  Sadly, their belittling takes root with some parents and we have occasionally seen once appreciative members of our club join the for profits in denigrating our efforts.

For longstanding volunteers, this can be at times hard to swallow and  simply shrug off.  At times, I will be honest, it feels like a punch in the gut.  But just like in my playing days, when I was knocked down and it made me more motivated to work harder to make certain that next time I was in that same position, the tables would be turned; my fellow volunteers and I are ready to push back against the influence of for profit groups in our lacrosse community.

Many other lacrosse friends I have all over the country share my motivation curtail the influence of profit driven organizations in the sport of lacrosse in their respective corners of the world.  If/when the day comes that you are faced with the decision to jump on board with the bells and whistles of a for profit team or stay with the not for profit club that provided your child the opportunity to play lacrosse in the first place, always remember this quote by the great James Doolittle:

“There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”

That is as true in the sport of lacrosse as it is in anything else.

Dr. Roger Welton was a 4 year starter for Montclair State University and was selected as a First Team All Knickerbocker Conference Midfielder in 1995, 1996. He is the founder of the Viera-Suntree Lacrosse Club and Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club in Brevard County, Florida.