Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/18/15
From Press Release
NXT Lacrosse Club is hosting open tryouts for its NXT 2019 and NXT Youth teams on Sept. 12-13 and 19-20 at Episcopal Academy. Players and their families have agreed to weigh in on what has made their NXT LC experience special and what has helped differentiate it from any other club that they’ve played for.
Click here to sign up for NXT 2019 tryouts and click here to sign up for NXTYouth tryouts. The first of many stories in this series comes from Matt Henderson, father of NXT 2019 faceoff specialist Jack Henderson. Jack played up with NXT 2018 last year and is considered to be one of the nation’s elite 2019 faceoff specialists.
We were looking for training and development as a priority over winning games. We hoped to find specialized position training and repetition in a specialist role. We were looking for coaches that knew how to coach and develop players. We also thought that being able to have an experience with other like-minded player would be important. We wanted Jack to play with players outside of his comfort zone and who would challenge his play and IQ. We were looking for a club that generally had an emphasis on building over time.
We also had a connection with (NXT LC faceoff coach) Coach (John) Bodnar. I inquired if we could be a part of the Philly Face-Off League and he met us on a cold April Saturday at Episcopal Academy. Soon after that, was really no other club that Jack could consider, even though his friends were playing on other teams in all the usual places.
In my opinion, everything begins and ends with practice. As a parent, the value proposition for me is the practice and incremental gains that an athlete gets via practice. The NXT practice is simply a college-level practice.The practice curriculum is more advanced and, by proxy, the kids must rise to that level. The coaches are role models in practice. There are no distracted coaches, and in turn, they have the right to expect a similar return in intensity from the kids. It’s fast and furious but it is not filled with hits and check. There’s definitely more of an emphasis on skill and speed. When coaches put on equipment and play with the kids, it demonstrates the right way and instills credibility because they are the best players out there and it gives players something to shoot for. Kids go home after practice and hit the wall. Sometimes, when you see someone way better than you, it motivates you because you’ve seen what’s possible.
Mechanically, it’s year-round. The fall program practices were the best I’ve seen. Main Line Sports Center on Thursdays and the Philly Face-Off League combined to increase the trajectory of growth and was very apparent when we re-engaged with our local team and our son was way ahead. The way I would describe it is in a basic business axiom: NXT enables the motivated player to jump the performance gap. The intangible value was as a multi sport athlete, the increased level of competition and cross-training in season truly helped his football play at the same time. He was able to give more to the football team by adding NXT winter work outs and looked stronger as the season went on.
Schematically, the coaches are all coaching the same values. The same offensive and defensive mindsets and techniques. It creates a calm synergy across the organization, which allows for zero conflict among coaches Teams need position-specific coaches. Frustration exists in the local lacrosse market because teams seem to be bent towards a certain experience the coach has. They practice in a pile: other teams don’t seem to staff up enough coaches, so you can’t break out by position, get reps and then bring it together at the end of practice to implement. The younger kids are stretched to keep up and they are not babied. Culture is all about stepping up, which drives practice at home so you don’t get viewed by the group as a drill killer.
Lacrosse is a skill sport and as such, if you want to improve, you need reps. NXT’s method creates maximum reps with expert coaching with small enough groups that feedback is custom to the player. The kids can’t see it because it seems normal now, but the coaches at NXT are more akin to fellowship trained: their pedigree and experience across all the coaches is higher level. They are coaching because they want to and they’ve also achieved great success in lacrosse. What comes across is that they don’t have something to prove. Rather, they are there to guide and have the confidence to put it back on the player to deliver and that is the players’ choice. What you see is the coach is pulling, not pushing.
If you want to get better and have fun, play NXT. My child is waiting in the car to go to practice and smiles all the way home. If you want accountability and a specific development plan, play NXT. The NXT teams practice together- all three high school teams are mixed together in drills- and there is simply no better way for you to develop than to be in the deep end of the pool with the bigger fish. There is also no where to hide. If you can get to the point where that feels normal, then you have improved because you have acclimated to a higher level. The end-of-practice scrimmage is the most underrated value as 18 v 16 and 18 v 17 creates a culture of performance that everyone can see. NXT is a meritocracy.
The organizational culture matches up with my family’s values. It is a meritocracy. The kids are a team. They know the older kids and those kids engage with the younger kids. The coaches are proud of each player for different reasons. The NXT organization supports and communicates good things about other players and teams, not just NXT. The agnostic approach to building up the kids across the sport makes it feel like more is being delivered. It trickles to the kids who begin to give credit where credit is due to another player from another team.
That sportsmanship value helps the player appreciate and respect the game. NXT selected strong leaders for coaches. NXT identified strong leaders as players. Some of the kids’ abilities to have the courage to hold each other accountable is impressive as a core characteristic of the NXT teams. You have pride in NXT because you know the mission is different. The kids are proud to wear the NXT brand because it says, “I have a purpose. I’m serious about getting better.”
NXT has remained true to its purpose with little variation as it has added to its mass.
It’s been significant. It’s raised the bar on what’s possible. It’s given my son the belief that some pretty lofty goals are attainable. NXT is willing to be there through the heavy lifting and supports the work ethic. My wife has expressed a wish for a girls NXT. Now, it’s happening, and this is high praise and a call for more.