By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/8/12
Six Philly players competed last weekend in the inaugural Project 9.9 instructional event organized by lacrosse greats Mark Millon and Paul Rabil at St. Paul’s School in Baltimore.
This event, which ran from Friday until Sunday, brought together 50 of the top Division I recruits (mostly committed players) players for top-notch instruction by position.
The Philly players that were chosen to attend were attackmen Trevor Kupecky (Upper Merion, senior committed to Hofstra), Anthony Marini (St. Joseph’s Prep, senior, Notre Dame), and Grant Ament (Haverford School, sophomore, Penn State), midfielders Jeff Cimbalista (La Salle, senior, Yale) and Ian Strain (Episcopal Academy, senior, Lehigh), and defenseman Nate Gorman (St. Augustine Prep, Villanova).
Besides Millon (attackmen) – the former Philadelphia Wing – and Rabil (midfielders), other coaches were Scott Rodgers (goalies), Kyle Hartzell (defenseman), Pat McCabe (defensemen), Jay Dyer (midfielders) and Buddy Holmes (attackmen).
Ament – trained by Millon and Holmes – was the only sophomore in the group. He said his youth and diminutive build made it a greater challenge.
“It was like nothing else,” Ament said. “The competition level was outstanding. That only made it harder but it kind of made you have to push yourself and focus on the moves being taught.
“Obviously, knowing who is teaching you this, it made ti so you didn’t question it. This will help us get to the next level. But we have to apply the skills. It’s the only way to get better.
“They kind of mixed it up as time went on. We would do some instruction and then some 1-on-1’s and plug in more. Even if it was uncomfortable, you’d try different moves and different tweaks to what we learned.”
Ament said he was thankful for the opportunity.
“I was the only sophomore there, but actually I loved it!” he said. “I feel like when I am going against kids my age, it’s a different feeling. They are all my size and athleticism.
“These defenders I was going against were gi-normous and so athletic, and it made it that much harder to get around them. This helped me so much. I see a bigger picture of what the next level will be like and what I have to overcome to get to that level.”
Marini said Millon and Rabil related exceptionally well to the players.
“I think it’s one of those opportunities that you can’t pass up,” he said. “You don’t know when something like that will come again.
“Coach Millon and coach Rabil, for the entire weekend, were very down to earth and colloquial. It was like they were our peers, in film breakdowns, individual meetings and all the little things on the field they showed us.
“It was unreal the amount I learned in 3 days. It was more than I learned in a while.”
Marini said the players were filmed and critiqued, but the whole focus was on skill building.
“They would bring us to the field by positions,” he said. “We had 12 of us; and Mark went over all the things that made him successful.
“He had an I-Pad, and was filming all of us. It was like ‘Monday Night Football’ highlights on video. Then they would bring the film to individual meetings. At night they went over with us 1-on-1; that was the best part of the camp.”
Marini said the experience can only help his game heading into his senior year for The Prep.
“I think this helps me a lot,” he said. “The thing they pointed out is that we are all at points in our careers where we’ve learned a lot. I have been blessed with great coaches St. Joe’s and Tri-State (N.J.) and if this makes us a tiny bit better, then we’ll do a better job for our high school or college.
“They did not make drastic changes, but they were little things I can work on on my own. They can make a big difference.”