Junior Black Wolves Capture Pee-Wee Crown at 2019 Junior NLL Tournament
TORONTO — The Jr. Black Wolves, a youth box program powered by 3d Lacrosse and the New England Black Wolves, captured the Pee-Wee championship at the 2019 Junior NLL Tournament, one of the most competitive youth tournaments in the sport.
One of two 3d-led teams to travel to the annual tournament held at the Toronto Rock Athletic Facility, the Jr Black Wolves Pee-Wee squad rolled to a 6-0 record en route to capturing the Pee-Wee bracket championship with a 16-3 win over the Jr. Knighthawks in the division finale on Sunday, August 25.
Following the championship, Jr. Black Wolves forward Cody Rudderham of St. Catherines, Ont., was named the Tucker Williams MVP of the Pee-Wee division.
“What an experience for these players and their families,” said Seth Jacoby, the Director of 3d New England South, the 3d Lacrosse division that manages the Jr. Black Wolves teams.
“It’s just a completely different culture of lacrosse and a level of play that you have to experience to understand, and that’s going to serve as a tremendous value for both of these teams moving forward.”
Jacoby was joined by Bob Hamley, a longtime professional box coach and 3d’s National Director of Box Lacrosse as well as the Director of Atlanta-based 3d Georgia, and Craig Lepiane, a scholastic coach in the Rochester area and Manager of 3d Upstate. Reilly O’Connor, a graduate of and former standout lacrosse player at The Hill Academy and Georgetown University, rounded out the Jr. Black Wolves Pee-Wee staff.
Made up of a mix of Canadian and American players, including those from four different 3d Lacrosse regions, the Jr. Black Wolves Pee-Wee and Bantam teams got to work before the Jr NLL Tournament even started.
The teams trained for two hours on the Wednesday night prior to the tournament, and then another two hours the next morning, before the team shed the pads for an afternoon of bonding and team building.
The Pee-Wee squad would go on to score more than 10 goals in every game, winning each by a substantial margin. While the Bantam team finished 1-3, the group’s weekend included close losses to some of the strongest teams in the bracket.
“I think our coaches really learned a lot,” Hamley said. “Seth (Jacoby) did a great job with organizing everything and he was great with the families. I think our coaching and planning was a key to this weekend.”
Hamley, who led the Black Wolves bench, brings 20 years of experience coaching the box game after a lengthy and decorated professional indoor playing career. Now in his sixth year with 3d Lacrosse, Hamley pointed to the 3d Methodology – 3d Lacrosse’s proprietary teaching paradigm – as a big factor in bringing the Jr. Black Wolves together as a cohesive group for the weekend.
“I think the training and what were able to accomplish in those training sessions was a huge part of it,” said Hamley, who praised the athleticism of the American players and the skill of the Canadian players on the Jr Black Wolves roster.
“Some of these kids didn’t know each other and we were able to bring them together, teach them and have them operating as a team. We really just ran two offensive sets. We used the two-man game, and we used off-ball motion, which is what we teach all the time at 3d – playing without the ball.
“We did a good job of that and defensively our concept of ‘the hub’ was a big deal. Our understanding of how to play with the shot clock was a big deal. The boys knew they had to play fast all the time and that’s what we’re teaching all the time at 3d. It felt like second nature for our coaches to focus on these things.”
Hamley believes players with predominantly field lacrosse backgrounds can learn much from the Jr. NLL Tournament setting, what he said is a natural fit for experienced 3d coaches.
“The experience for young players can be transformational,” Hamley said.
“As a coach, it really does force you to think more sharply and take action faster and it tests your knowledge not only of coaching players on individual skill and tactics, but just overall game management, flow and situational awareness.”
Lepiane, who got a taste of box lacrosse in Upstate New York growing up before playing at Ithaca College, said he’ll benefit from the coaching experience in Ontario, and he credited Hamley for leading the way.
“You learn a lot in just a few days’ time,” Lepiane said.
“It’s exciting and fast paced, and it was great to work with the other coaches and bring our different approaches together. Hammer (Hamley) is great because he challenges the players, but you can see they respond and respect him.”
Lepiane hopes more American players can benefit from the opportunity afforded by the Jr. NLL Tournament and the associated Jr NLL programs.
“The overall experience was awesome, and I’d love for us to be able to get more of our 3d players involved,” said Lepiane.
“Some of the Canadian players running with us are interested in eventually coming to play field lacrosse in the states, so it’s a nice way for them to meet our guys and get to know people on this side of the border. It was fun to see the kids become friends over the five days.”
Jacoby applauded not only the Black Wolves coaches, but the New England organization as a whole for their support, including coaching provided by the likes of O’Connor and Black Wolves transition standout Colton Watkinson.
“Between our coaches and the Black Wolves staff, we have great support and that helped make for a great five days together,” said Jacoby, who additionally serves as 3d’s National Director of Division III Recruiting.
This summer represents the fourth year of the Jr. Black Wolves through 3d’s relationship with the New England franchise. Jacoby plans to continue using the 3d Lacrosse network to offer the opportunity to players who want to experience Jr. Black Wolves training and take the floor at events like the Jr. NLL Tournament, and to coaches who want to coach the box game in an intense and competitive setting.
“3d Lacrosse also provides us with a great framework for coaching and bringing the teams together for a valuable learning experience in a competitive team setting and an authentic box environment,” he said.
“We want to make sure people know about this opportunity and how much these kids are getting out of it, because it really is a game-changer.”
For more information on the Jr. Black Wolves upcoming winter 2019-2020 program, visit https://3dlacrosse.com/jr-blackwolves-winter-2019-box-select.
About 3d Lacrosse
3d Lacrosse is the nation’s fastest-growing lacrosse services company, offering innovative training, premier events, select travel teams, showcases and leagues for boys and girls ages six through 18 at all levels of organized competition. Founded in 2009, the Company trains more than 35,000 athletes annually using its proprietary Box-Field Hybrid™ Development System that combines the tight stick-handling and ball control of box lacrosse with the team-based field strategies used in Division I college programs. In addition to lacrosse-specific training, professional coaches help players develop lifelong skills, including dedication, teamwork and critical thinking under pressure. Based in Denver, 3d Lacrosse also has offices in Annapolis, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Hartford, Houston, New York, Portland, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa and Westfield, N.J. Learn more at 3dLacrosse.com.
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