By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/3/14
Haverford School coach John Nostrant will probably enter the 2014 season with a team ranked among the top few spots in every national poll.
But Nostrant is not satisfied. He wants all the lacrosse players at his school to get the chance to compete. That’s why he is starting a “club” program and is willing to help create a club league and help other schools get started.
“I have decided to try to start a club program at Haverford this spring because our numbers are up, as is the level of talent across the board in the 9th thru 12th grade,” said Nostrant, whose varsity was the 2011 national champion and 2013 squad won the Inter-Ac Invitational. “We have had third teams in the past or JV B and I like the idea of club better.”
Nostrant said his “club” team will be comprised of high school players from all classes that either cannot make the varsity/JV programs or wish to play at a slightly less competitive level. He noted that many players will seek to play at the club level in college and that a high school “club” program is suitable for many players.
“We will have coaches, but I would really like the boys to own it,” he said. “I want them to be the pioneers of some sort. Kids just want to play, and I have never cut anyone in 22 years.”
Another reason Nostrant believes a “club” league would be worthwhile is due to the increasing pressures being placed on student-athletes through early recruiting. He said some players lose interest or others seek another avenue besides varsity lacrosse and NCAA lacrosse. Also, with the amazing growth of lacrosse, there are less and less Division I, II and even III spots for players everywhere.
“I have a lot of former players that are not enjoying the college experience and I think a lot of these kids could go on to play (college) club lacrosse,” he said. “This would be a great thing for them.
“I would love to discuss starting a club league with other coaches who may have big rosters and have kids that want to play. The upside is these boys may not practice every day.”
Nostrant, a member of the Eastern PA Chapter of the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame, is loaded this year with Division I recruits at Haverford School. He knows he’ll have some talented players fighting to see any time on the varsity, or even the JV team. He feels that many players can benefit from the “club” experience and learn that they can continue to play at the club level at large universities, many of which also have club programs.
“They would have their spring break, and they may enjoy other school activities because of the freedom the club would give them,” Nostrant said. “I think as a group of coaches we need to try to provide different opportunities for kids as both High School Sports as well as collegiate athletics have become ‘professionalized.’
“This could be the ideal place to start. If I did not feel that there was room for growth I would not do it, but the number of colleges that offer both club and college lacrosse continues to grow. If you are a decent student-athlete and want to go to a big school, to be a part of big-time football or basketball you are limited as a (Division I) lacrosse player to be in the top 1 percent at your position.”
Nostrant says coaches need to be responsible to promoting opportunity for all players, regardless of whether they are headed to Division I programs or just want to play in an organized level.
“If you want that opportunity and want to have a life in college, what’s wrong with Georgia Tech, University of South Carolina, Auburn, ETC?” he said. “So why not start that process in high school as well?”