By Tom Peace
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/27/15
John Bodnar, the face-off coach for NXT Lacrosse and organizer of the King of the X competitions at the NXT Showcase Lacrosse Philly Showcases, was impressed with the talent level at this year’s 2017 and 2018 event held Saturday at Episcopal Academy.
“The competition here was better than I have ever seen,” he said. “I think just the position in general is getting stronger and stronger every year. It’s not just the usual hotbeds who are producing good face-off guys anymore; there’s guys from all over the country who can compete.”
The King of the X features a championship-style format where face-off specialists square off in one-on-one competition to determine an overall champion. The event is performed just before the Fab 40 All-Star Games and in front of the entire crowd of fans, players and college coaches.
This year’s King of the X champions were Liam Fitzgerald (Hun School, NJ/Laxachusetts, 2017) in the Boys Philly Showcase and Conor Calderone (Smithtown East, NY/Laxachusetts) at the Freshman Showcase, held at United Sports.
Bodnar has coached some impressive FOGOs at Episcopal Academy, including 2016 Christian Feliziani (Ohio State, Team USA Training member), Matt Ernst (Lehigh, ’14), Jon Garino (Maryland, ’12) and EA junior Griffin Ernst (Lafayette). He said the FOGO position is exploding with talent in the Philadelphia area and all over the country.
He said in the past couple years more changes in rules and regulations have made the position even more specialized.
“In Philly we run a lot of clinics prepare our players for these types of events,” said Bodnar, who runs Philly FaceOff League, which trains faceoff specialists and works with the Face-Off Academy in a national tournaments.
“You have to put the time in (at the Face-off position). There is something you have to work at every day in order to be really good face-off guys. And it’s not just taking the draw, you have to become a complete player. You can’t just show up; you have to work out every day just like a shooter.”
Texas shows its stuff
Three players from Texas were named to the 2018 Class in the Fab 40 All-Star Game. One was St. Mark’s midfielder Sam Schroeder, also of C2C. Others making the team were Westlake’s Tate Young (midfielder, Express) and Jacob Stoebner (defenseman, Dallas Select).
“I’m working on my lacrosse I.Q. and working on my right hand,” said Schroeder, noting skills he focused on at the event.
Schroeder is looking closely at Ivy League schools, namely Princeton or Harvard. “It feels good to spread the game, especially, coming from Texas.”
See below links for all the coverage from the Nike Philly Showcases, held at Episcopal Academy and United Sports: