By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/3/09
Dean Curtis is leaving with some fanfare.
The Falcons enjoyed one of their best season since becoming a varsity team under Curtis in 2004, placing second in the Suburban One National Conference while winning their first playoff game (15-10 win over Sun Valley in the opening round of the District 1 tourney).
Curtis is also leaving a legacy for the EPSLA. He helped organize the first Showcase, a recruiting extravaganza that will feature the top 88 public and private school sophomores and juniors in All-Star Games June 11 at Haverford College.
The Showcase was developed because the EPSLA was seeking more exposure for the players in Southeastern Pennsylvania in a setting where everyone could participate. This year the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) is sanctioning boys’ lacrosse for the first time, and the popular EPSLA tournament – which included all private and public teams – had to come to an end.
Curtis took over last year when former EPSLA President and Malvern Prep assistant Jimmy Oliver moved to Florida and took a job as a high school head coach while continuing his job for LaxPower.
Curtis noted that the duties of being a head coach and a leading official for the EPSLA was quite taxing. A Senior Systems Engineer for Apple computers, Curtis plans to spend more time with his family.
“It’s difficult to balance your schedule when you work outside of the district,” said Curtis, who will be replaced as President by Episcopal Academy coach Andy Hayes (current VP).
As for the EPSLA, he believes the Showcase event will help stimulate much excitement for Philadelphia players looking to get recruited. Dozens of college coaches will be on hand at Haverford and the teams are being chosen through special 3-hour tryout sessions Sunday at Episcopal Academy.
The 260 players who are trying out at EA had to register online. Local college coaches will chose the teams and the impressive list coaches at the Showcase were chosen by their Philadelphia peers. Admission for the game is $5.
The All-Star teams will each have 22 players. The public and private school sophomores will try out from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and all juniors will try out from 2:30-5:30. The All-Star Games at Haverford will start with the Super Sophomore game at 5 p.m., followed by the Super Junior game at 7:15.
“I think it’s great because it recaptures the doubleheader event with the best talent on the field,” Curtis said. “Not that they don’t have great talent in the PIAA playoffs, but it used to be all-inclusive.
“Our concept is public vs. private and that format really raises the stake a little bit. The reason we chose to do sophomores and juniors and do away with our Senior All-Star Game is because there is a lot more interest in that level of player by college coaches.
“It was nice to honor those senior players, but the last few years it was tough to get the participation, not only by the players, but by the college coaches.”
Curtis is also leaving the Pennsbury program in great shape. The Falcons used a number of young players this year, many of whom had much success on the club scene last summer.
The Falcons began playing lacrosse as a club team in 2002, and Curtis won the team’s first league crown in 2006.
“We had pretty good run, we built the program from the ground up,” Curtis said. “We on our first playoff game this year by beating a pretty good Sun Valley team. The program is in good shape for next year.”
Public Sophomores – Head Coach: Randy McNeil (Abington). Assistant Coaches: Jef Hewlings (Emmaus), Phil Chang (Plymouth Whitemarsh), Josh Hanlon (Neshaminy).
Public Juniors – Head Coach: Brian Samson (Conestoga). Assistant Coaches: Mike Friel (Springfield-Delco), Dave Waldman (Strath Haven), Chet Laubach (Lower Merion)
Private Sophomores – Head Coach: Eric Gregg (St. Joe’s Prep). Assistant Coaches: Pat McDonough (Penn Charter), Ryan Greer (St. Joe’s Prep), Kevin Merlini (La Salle)
Private Juniors – Head Coach: Bill Leahy (La Salle). Assistant Coaches: Tony Resch (La Salle), John McEvoy (Malvern Prep), Andy Hayes (Episcopal Academy).