Roughly three years ago, Stuart Brown began what today is a well known company called Edge Lacrosse. The Edge program was designed to give Ontario lacrosse players the ability to showcase their talents in front of U.S. and Canadian Universities and Colleges. This is in the hopes that the athletes can gain a partial or full scholarship to play, while getting a high level education at the same time.
I was asked by Stuart to join the Junior Elite Team over the weekend of October 3-5 / 2008 on their three day trip to Rhode Island. The team was to play in Providence against the Friars on Friday night, at Bryant University in Smithfield on Saturday (vs. the Bulldogs), and at Brown University back in Providence on Sunday (vs. the Bears).
This group from various parts of Ontario are comprised of young men 15-18 years of age. In travelling to Rhode Island, they would be facing teams that had players up to 23 years of age.
We started our trip from Oakville, Ontario at 6:30 am (it was 5:00am for me leaving Whitby), and made the trek to Providence arriving just after 4:00 pm. The boys had a chance to get into their rooms and rest up for only an hour or so, before heading over to Providence University.
The team had the opportunity to do a walkthrough and had a brief presentation while touring the athletic complex. Providence is in the midst of some major expansion of their athletics programs. A new turf field is being built that Lacrosse will share with Soccer. We were also informed that the building we were in was recently built, which included a state of the art training center.
In addition, the team saw firsthand all of the enhanced facilities available to the sports players at Providence should they require any medical assistance or support for many types of injury. From there the players went back to their change room and proceeded to get ready to enter the field.
After roughly 9 hours on a bus it took the Edge squad until almost half time to show that they could play with Providence. Although the final score ended quite lopsided for the Friars, the Edge team actually won the second half of the game. Unfortunately, Providence was a strong team and they outlasted the Edge boys.
I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak after the game with Providence Head Coach Chris Burdick, who was very complimentary of the Edge team. That interview is below:
After a much needed nights rest for all of the players, Coaches, and parents we were back up and at it early on Saturday morning. It was an absolutely beautiful day out, and there was a real electricity in the air. Many of the players on the Edge team know Zack Greer and were quite excited that they would playing against him in their game on this day. Greer is from Ontario and is the All-Time Division 1 leading scorer in lacrosse. In addition, many knew that Bryant Head Coach Mike Pressler, was recently named Head Coach of the US National Men’s Field Lacrosse team for 2010, so this was a great opportunity to make an impression.
The Edge team came out looking much more alert and ready to play, scoring the first goal of the game, and playing well in the first half of the first quarter. But similar to Friday nights game, age and experience took over, and the Bryant team went on to win the game handily. The Edge players learned about consistency and turnovers in the game being very important to the teams success.
After the game was over I took the opportunity to speak to Bryant Coach Mike Pressler who was highly receptive to the Team and liked what he saw from the Canadian boys. That interview is below:
I also spoke to Greer about his thoughts on the Edge program, having helped them this past summer. Zack also was complimentary of his fellow Canadians and very supportive of their game on the day:
The players and parents then had the chance to have some lunch and were given a guided tour around the Bryant campus. Shortly after, the team along with their parents met back in a lecture theatre where Coach Pressler addressed the group. In one word….wow!
I have to say that for me personally and I think many in attendance this was the highlight of our weekend. Coach Pressler went into great detail of the entire recruitment process, step by step. He stated what the players needed to do academically, the averages they needed to maintain just to even be considered for entry at Bryant. The fact that we were getting such valuable detailed information from the Head Coach himself was such a statement for the school.
The passion with which Coach Pressler spoke was remarkable. Much of his discussion was about loyalty, and commitment to his players, to their families, and to the School at Bryant. I know that there was not a person in that lecture room that doubted his dedication and passion for one moment. This man is real and he cares. The Coach made it easy for the kids and parents to understand by using Zack Greer as an example of what needed to be done. For me, I know Zack and his family, so I had heard all of these great things about Mike Pressler long ago. But when I met Mike and spoke with him, and listened to him, I was amazed at his charisma and his genuine way of dealing with people.
Many of us have only read what Coach Pressler and his family went through in 2006 while at Duke University. To see the school at Bryant give him the chance to Coach again when no others were stepping up to, shows a sign of dedication and commitment from the school that I also believe I would want my child to be a part of. In the Coaches own words, “Bryant gave me and my family our lives back.” I cannot even begin to try to understand what this man has been through. But I will say that he is now back, and he is taking steps to make the lacrosse program at Bryant a force. To further stress his point about loyalty and commitment to those in attendance, the Coach summed up by informing us that the doubters who thought he would leave Bryant when a better offer came along, were silenced when he signed an agreement that will keep him at Bryant until at least 2015.
On Day three, the gang finished their road trip with a ride back to Providence, this time visiting Brown University, home of the Bears. It was a rainy, cool day, but that didn’t stop everyone from taking a tour of the housing in and around the University covering about a 5-6 block radius around the school. It was really great to see the fabulous heritage that this school holds having been founded in 1764, with all of the older buildings, and the downtown area filled with shops, restaurants and such.
The group was also treated to a video of the lacrosse team at Brown that was ranked 13th in the Nation in 2007.
With not a lot of time, of course needing to be on the road for the long trek home, the families did not get a lot of time to tour the actual school. It was right to the field and right into the game. Brown showed very early why they are such a highly ranked team scoring often and playing the entire game with an extremely high level of energy. The weather did not seem to affect their spirit and these players were ready to go.
To Team Edge’s defense, playing their third game in three days, with a few little nagging injuries, and playing against players a few years older than they were, they showed a lot of character. There were a number of turnovers and errors throughout for Edge, but that is understandable given the circumstances.
After the game the boys had a chance to shower up and board the bus for the long trip home. Unfortunately, given the time restraints, I did not get the chance to speak with Brown Head Coach Lars Tiffany on his thoughts of the game and Team Edge.
As an aside, our bus, shortly after crossing back into Canada broke down, causing a delay of roughly an hour (waiting for another to come pick us up). But in the end, it was a great trip and one that I know will lead to some very positive results for some young men.
My Thoughts On Edge
When I first started LITG in 2006 I had a great number of people compliment me on what I was doing, how it was great for the game. But I also had a few detractors, that for some reason or another were critical of a number of things I did.
I see that happening to Edge as well.
This is a program that is allowing our Canadian Youth an opportunity to be showcased in front of US Colleges and Universities. It is an opportunity that may also lead to partial or full coverage of $40,000 per year or more of schooling as well.
So I would ask you; if your child was athletically and academically able to take this chance to do this would you do it for them? Well a great number have, and I believe more will follow.
You see, Edge is not only a chance to go and compete and be seen. They have player profiles of every player in their system on their Web Site (www.edgelacrosse.com) so that Coaches can access and see the players before and after seeing them on a field. Just as if not more importantly, they also give the families the information necessary on grade requirements, access to SAT exams, and more information than any other program that is currently out there.
Are there others out there? Yes. Are they as thorough as what Edge is doing? Not that I know of.
I spoke with a number of parents of the young men that were in Rhode Island. Make no bones about it, many of them said, it is not inexpensive. But if you compare the costs now to the savings if / when your child attends a College or University and the potential savings, it is money well spent. And for almost all of these young men, they have made the decision that Hockey is not going to be in the cards for them. One parent said they love the fact that this was actually cheaper than what they paid for Hockey with the chance of possibly a much better ending.
I`m sure there will be more of these services going forward, but for now, Edge has the market covered and a very loyal following that is growing all the time. They treat their players and their families like family of their own. While I do not know all of the Edge Coaches, I will say that I know most, and it is an impressive line-up. Coach Rick Webster (Brampton) of this Junior Elite team has a real passion and knowledge of lacrosse. But more importantly, he has the respect and admiration of his players and their families.
By their web site statistics no less than 33 lacrosse players have attained scholarships of varying amounts through the Edge program.
Edge has also recently launched a Girls program and I am sure it will be as successful as the boys program is.
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