By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/24/12
He has often been called the best lacrosse player in the world, but Paul Rabil claims he really was not that good when he first began playing the sport and that he overcame many obstacles before finding success.
That’s the message he related Wednesday to the Pittsburgh men’s lacrosse team during a special shooting clinic sponsored by Red Bull called “Under My Wing.”
Rabil, a former Johns Hopkins standout and two-time Major League Lacrosse MVP (Boston Cannons) who has posted a 111-MPH shot, gave a lengthy motivational speech and led three skill sessions (endurance, speed and accuracy) to 38 players and six coaches in the event.
Rabil said he chose Pitt to give the clinic because the program has made major strides in the MLCA Division I scene, advancing to the championship tournament last year while achieving a national ranking (No. 12). The team has a number of Philly players, led by All-American attackman Tyler Novotny, a Spring-Ford graduate and former All-Phillylacrosse.com Second Team pick who began his college career at St. John’s.
“I think the interest in the MCLA program came from the passion and skill level and eagerness to want to compete at the top level,” said Rabil in a phone interview. “Seeing their tremendous amount of improvement shown in the past few seasons, I decided to meet with Pitt’s team.
“I shared with them a lot of similarities, from my experiences as a lacrosse player, and theirs. I spoke to the guys for about an hour and engaged their passion and interest and I told them my story.
“I passed on some tips and then we opened up a forum of conversation. It went really well; it was a special experience to me to relate to hungry college players. That they were so responsive and excited to hear my story is humbling.”
Rabil stressed that his relentless work ethic is his greatest asset and remains the biggest reason for success. He also discussed some techniques and the importance of a 360-degree shooting approach.
Pitt freshman goalie Travis O’Connor (Abington) said Rabil easily related to the Pitt players and coaches.
“It was awesome; he talked to us for a while,” O’Connor said. “He taught us some things about shooting and said when he was growing up he didn’t start out at a big lacrosse school.
“He said he worked hard and developed his program, and related that to us.”
Freshman Mike Argyros (Seneca Valley) claimed the title of fastest shot with a top speed of 90 mph. Junior Sam Westenberger (Tork) dominated the accuracy section, hitting 3 targets in a span of 15 seconds.
Hustling through the endurance section, junior Alex Powell (Webster Schroeder, N.Y.) won the prize with a top time of 12.7 seconds. The endurance section consisted of cones, ladders, plastic hurdles and a plyo box and required a lot of coordination to get through in a timely and orderly manner.
Top performers of each section won gear from Warrior Lacrosse including a head from the signature Rabil Collection.
After the clinic, Rabil selected sophomore midfielder Matt Wolfe, from Irondequoit high (N.Y.), to keep “Under his Wing” by offering guidance and advice throughout the rest of the year. Contact information has been exchanged and the two will keep in touch for as long as they feel necessary.
“We were extremely honored to host Paul Rabil and Red Bull,” Novotny said. “Rabil shared knowledge of the game and motivated the Pitt Panthers. The pro lacrosse champ chose to take sophomore Matt Wolfe ‘under his wing’ for the duration of the season, but his presence motivated every Panther equally.
“We’re excited not only for the exposure that this lends our program at Pitt, but the MCLA in general. Rabil was impressed with the caliber of players found on an MCLA team, which he refused to refer to as ‘club’ lacrosse.
“He said, ‘I see athletes, and I see a college program. NCAA, MCLA? It doesn’t matter what the letters spell out. This is college lacrosse at its finest.’”