I’m writing to thank you all for your hard work, care and commitment and share my observations and experiences we’ve had since being accepted and joining the Alcatraz Outlaws Lacrosse Club. When selecting a travel club for our son (and in our case, switching from one club to another) there’s the doubt that you are “doing the right thing or making the right choice”. There are so many Lacrosse Travel Club options available now, from existing national and regional clubs to emerging travel clubs, all competing for our players and our dollars. The decision for our family and son came down to selecting an environment where we felt his talents could be developed and utilized to maximize his potential as a lacrosse player and as a young man while at the same time, enjoying himself ! Among our concerns in making the decision were,”would the organization and coaches do what they say they will with the development of my child ?”.
The main consideration for us in selecting a club came down to four main areas 1) Coaching 2) Development 3) Organization and 4) Value. I’ve outlined my thoughts in each area and how we feel the Alcatraz Outlaws program fared.
The depth, experience and commitment of the Outlaws coaching staff is incredible. We couldn’t imagine a better group of coaches aligned together for a lacrosse club, they are some of the most well known, respected, enthusiastic and brightest minds in the sport. The coaches create a very motivational and positive teaching environment that augments my sons strengths and recognize his unique differences as an individual within the team framework. The coaches care about my son and his experience and are constantly asking him “Are you having fun? Are you learning ? Do you feel you are improving ?”. Additionally, we’ve relied on them for advice on camps and most certainly will lean on their expertise as far as other resources including their key connections in the college lacrosse community.
Equally important was the presence of the team of Outlaw coaches at all practices and tournaments. Other local club experiences we’ve seen in our region have one or two high profile coaches as figure heads but they aren’t the ones actually involved in coaching and are often not present at the tournaments. The national travel club utilized parent coaches for the teams (much like most local non travel club teams) many with very little or non-existent lacrosse playing experience and little coaching experience as well. Additionally, most, if not all of the coaches and had their own children on the teams. We appreciate the unbiased, professional coaching and advice our son has received from the Outlaws program.
With our focus being on development, we are pleased that he has such a great group of coaches teaching him how to play the game. The Alcatraz Outlaws didn’t just focus on any one system or scheme but on concepts and making my son a better player for whatever system he may play now or in the future. It’s refreshing to see coaches that realize the coaching isn’t necessarily administered during the game and during it’s critical moments but in small groups on the sideline, after the games and in the practices leading up to the events.
Development and training program:
The development and training programs have been clearly laid out. Practices have not been overly focused on systems and schemes unlike the national club we were with previously. Emphasis is clearly on fundamentals, movement, stick skills, communication and effort. The details are closely scrutinized – an example is a minor arm position correction in my son’s shooting motion which was made by the coaches after noticing on film how an improvement in accuracy could be achieved.
Prior to each practice, an outline is emailed so my son would be prepared as to “what” would be covered during that practice session. My son and the other boys in our carpool would review the plan on the way to practice and talk about how excited they were (or weren’t, depending on the amount of conditioning noted ) for specific drills. During the practice sessions, a dedicated strength and conditioning coach was present and involved with the boys. A unique element of the Outlaws training program was the amount of time spent on stretching, isometrics and sprinting. The conditioning elements were introduced at the beginning, during and at the end of each practice.
The amount of practice sessions we’ve had with the Outlaws more than doubled what we had experienced with our former travel club. The strength and conditioning component was also not incorporated into any training with our former travel club. In addition to field practices, there was indoor box training over an eight week period which was fantastic and this was also unique to our experience with the Outlaws. Another element offered within the Outlaw program were private sessions provided almost daily by one of the coaches. These sessions are confined to groups of six boys and with a unique focus for each session, such as shooting. These training sessions are continuously offered, even though we are between tournaments and in our local club season. The amount of attention and attention to detail during the training program is unrivaled.
After participation in tournaments, the coaching staff provides a written evaluation for each player based on their role and performance within each game of the tournament. The post game written detailed evaluations focused on strengths, weaknesses and areas of focus for continued improvement. The Outlaw development program was truly focused on making my son a better player – not focused on tournament wins and losses.
Organization and administration:
Club communications have been clear and forthright. Expectations for parents, players and the club have been clearly stated. A travel and tournament coordinator assisted us with logistics for each tournament as respects travel, team lodging and team meals. The coaches were always on time and present for practices, dinners and team building events. I’ve heard from many parents how disorganized and chaotic other club experiences have been for them – from having substitute coaches show up at games and not knowing the players to every man for themselves as far as travel and logistics.
Tournament selection has been appropriate for the level of play with attention to competition level and location and a concern for family travel budgets. The Outlaws were concerned about unnecessary travel to remote locations when we could achieve high level tournament play in more localized venues while still maximizing exposure and competitiveness.
Importantly, we have direct communications with the organization and coaches and I feel, as does my son, that he can approach them and ask questions or have a discussion and get meaningful feedback.
“What do I get for the money ?” The Alcatraz Outlaws program has been a great value. In comparison to other clubs with similar fee structures we feel that we’ve received a far superior product and experience for our son and our family. Clearly, the Club resources are used to secure the most talented and enthusiastic professional coaches in the country. In looking at the coaching, the development and training program and the organization and administration, I don’t believe there is a better value offered on the West Coast, especially for such a complete travel lacrosse club experience. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we proudly wear our Outlaws gear- our son has been provided high quality game and practice apparel including an oversized travel/gear bag…that actually fits all of his lacrosse gear.
Our entire family can unequivocally say, the Outlaws program has by far, exceeded our expectations in every criteria area we considered 1) Coaching 2) Development 3) Organization and 4) Value and is one of the best sports experiences we have had in any sports venue or club. My son has definitely improved as a player and his love for the game has increased. Confirming our decision is the fact that our son can’t wait to suit up for practice or games when it’s time for The Outlaws. In fact, we’re in our regular club season now and my son has asked at least three times “when is the next Outlaws practice ?” My son is proud to be an Outlaw and we’re fortunate to have been accepted by such a quality club.