Learning at camp rates high

being seen rates even higher

Girls show lacrosse skills as college coaches watch

July 15, 2002|By Mary Beth Kozak | Mary Beth Kozak,SUN STAFF

As the rain subsided and the summer heat began to sizzle yesterday on the last day of the Elite 300 lacrosse camp, girls were scrimmaging, shooting at goals, but mostly hoping to score the eye of a college coach.

With every ground ball, save and shot, each athlete envisioned herself one step closer to a college scholarship.

As the girls raised their sticks in celebrations after scrimmage victories, college coaches were making mental notes on the incoming high school juniors and seniors, searching for recruits for their teams.

The three-day camp, held at Loyola College, attracted 399 top high school players from around the nation.

The Elite 300 is a blend of teaching, competition and recruitment. In addition to putting together top talent, the camp introduces the athletes to NCAA rules on recruitment.

The camp, founded by Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker and Loyola coach Diane Aikens five years ago, is partially staffed by about 75 college coaches.

"In order for it not to be an NCAA violation, we invite college coaches from across the country to either coach it or officiate it," Aikens said. "They also get to stay at camp while they're coaching and get to look at the players."

NCAA rules prohibit the coaches from initiating contact that could be construed as recruiting during the camp, but rising seniors were allowed to approach coaches once the camp ended.

"It's very organized, and the information they give us makes it easier to find a kid that will work best at our school," said Brian Bruce, coach of C.W. Post, the 2001 Division II champions.

"You have kids from California and Colorado. Being from a D-2 school, I would never have the money to go out and see them on a recruiting basis, but with them being here, it opens up for them to see schools that they have not gotten to see before."

And the players get to see how they measure up against the best from all over.

"The big places on the East Coast for lax are Maryland and upstate New York, so we figured we'd come down to Maryland for the competition; see what the competition is like down here," said Ron Moore, who traveled 5 1/2 hours from Syracuse, N.Y., with his wife, Terry, to enable daughter Lindsey to participate in the camp. "I am very impressed with the competition."

"I love it [the competition]," said Kelyn Laws, a rising senior at Mount Hebron who was one of 40 athletes named to the Elite 300 All-Star team.

"Everyone can catch and throw; everyone has the basic skills down and it's playing with new girls. You don't get a chance to do that very often.

"I know personally, I want to go to college next year and play lacrosse, so it's just to get exposure and get your name out there."

The camp is designed to enhance those opportunities.

"Everyone gets the same playing time," said Hopkins' Tucker. "It is an equal playing field."

That field has expanded greatly. In the past 20 years, more than 100 colleges have added women's lacrosse as a varsity sport.

"I think there is an opportunity for everyone out there, whether it's Division I, II or III," said North Carolina coach Jenny Slingluff-Levy. "There's a fit for every athlete who wants to compete at the college level in women's lacrosse."

"We can't guarantee that all these kids will get scholarships, because Division III [schools] do not give scholarships, Ivy schools do not give scholarships per se, but ... there are kids here who will get scholarships, not just because of this camp, [but] because they're good," Aikens said. "But they will have an opportunity to get better and be seen by coaches by the nature of the way the camp is set up."

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