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header_cliWhen moving to Northern California in 2004 from the traditional hot bed of lacrosse we call Baltimore, I certainly did not anticipate being in an area where in a matter of 5 years lacrosse would be pushing to the forefront of the college and high school scene. I am happy to share with the world that lacrosse has not only hit the west coast with force, it is here to stay.

The following blog entries will not only be my perspective on the game, but also highlight the individuals, the events, and the happenings that are growing the game we love and bringing it to new unprecedented levels on the west coast. From Phoenix Arizona, to Newport Beach California, to the Bay Area around San Francisco, to Portland Oregon, to the even Puget Sound area in Washington.

Check back in with me as I share this side of the country with you through my daily travels and interactions.
Thanks,

Pat Miller

Bio:
Pat Miller is excited to return as a regular e-lacrosse contributor again after a few year hiatus. Pat has been involved with lacrosse for most of his life. He was a standout multi-sport athlete at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, MD continuing on as a scholarship lacrosse player at Johns Hopkins University. There he would later serve as an assistant coach managing arguably the top face-off trio in the nation of now MLL stars Kyle Harrison, Greg Peyser and Lou Braun. Now in California, Miller is the head lacrosse coach of Cardinal Newman High School, a quickly rising power in the Northern California lacrosse scene, as well as helping with the ASU Men’s lacrosse program in Tempe Az. His company Amplify Your Game provides lacrosse players and coaches with various affordable learning opportunities and networking.

With the game of lacrosse growing at such a rapid pace, it’s tough to keep up with all the teams, gear, moving of professional teams and new faces of stardom.  But hidden beneath all the hype of the top NCAA teams and MLL / NLL all-star games is the growth of the game at the college club level.

The club game has emerged and is flourishing at both huge universities and smaller schools all over the country.  Its growth has gone unnoticed by many following the game.  If you are a lacrosse traditionalist, you would not believe the amount of established teams and leagues that are available to college athletes these days.  And yes, they have sweet jerseys, helmets, gloves, droves of fans coming out to their games and National Championship weekends!

As the women’s game is moving to the NCAA at many schools in Middle America and out West, the men’s teams at most schools do not have the opportunity to move to NCAA status for participation reasons. (Yes, Title IX)   But that is no reason for these teams to lose a competitive edge or even recruit some insane athletes.  It just means that these student athletes have an alternative to play college lacrosse at the ‘club’ level. 

Having personally played with and against many college club players, I found myself amazed at the organization, competitiveness and skill level of some of these teams.  It didn’t even cross my mind to go the college club route when I was choosing where to play ball.  Imagine going to schools such as USC, Arizona or Oklahoma to play lacrosse!?  I didn’t.

While playing in a Hero’s game one summer in Annapolis, MD, I found myself guarding an in shape and talented youngster who had a local area high school helmet on.  I asked him where he was going to school next year and he said, “University of Florida”.  I thought to myself, “Florida…REALLY!?”  It turns out that there was more to lacrosse than what I knew. 

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The largest of the college club leagues is the MCLA (Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association).  According to their website, “The MCLA currently operates in the US and Canada with 213 teams in two divisions, across ten conferences.”   That’s right, 213 teams!!!  With huge schools such as Michigan State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, BYU, UConn, and 200+ others paving the way, the MCLA is filled with great lacrosse and the complete college experience.  

But it doesn’t just stop there.  The NCLL (National College Lacrosse League) has over 100 teams participating as well.  The NCLL contains some schools with varsity programs at all levels but that’s a lot of teams playing the sport of lacrosse.

In 2008, the defending NCAA National Champions, Johns Hopkins University made a trip out to Ann Arbor to scrimmage the highly ranked MCLA University of Michigan team.  This wasn’t only a huge deal for the folks at Michigan, but this was also a big deal to folks who did not know about what the club game had to offer.  Personally, I think it opened the eyes of many high school players who were making their own choices of where to continue their careers.

In due time, some of these teams will be making their way to the NCAA level and it will forever change our sport.  In a positive way!

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