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THE NDP INTERVIEW
with BRIAN REESE
Brian Reese needs little introduction, especially on the field where he makes aquaintances quite readily with anyone holding the ball. Reese has been on E-Lacrosse's radar since his high school days at Loyola-Blakefield School of Baltimore. His tenacious style and superior athleticism made him an instant star on the college fields he dominated. Drafted by Baltimore with their third pick in the initial seeding draft for the MLL, he was the cornerstone of the nastiest defense in the MLL's early days and remains the most physical presence in any game. Audible checks and groaning players laying at his feet are his trademarks.
Brian currently plays for the Bayhawks and the Colorado Mammoth of the NLL and is involved heavily in the National Development Program or NDP. We talked to Brian a few times over the last month and the collective conversation follows here. This is an important interview to read if you are a youth or teen lacrosse player, boy or girl. The NDP concept has changed immensely since the inception of the idea in 2003 and the controversy that you may have followed on E-Lacrosse. The changes are significant and make NDP accessible for any of our readers anywhere in the United States and Canada. We'll be covering a lot of the NDP tournaments on E-Lacrosse and hope to see many of our readers playing on the fields where we are filming. But first, you need to get the lowdown on the NDP concept and how to get involved. Read on, as we ask Brian every question we could come up with about NDP. And if we didn't ask your question, send it to us and we'll ask Gary Gait, who we're interviewing about NDP in our next segment.
E-Lacrosse: First, I heard that you wear the number 34 for a pretty cool reason.
Reese: I have been number 34 since high school. The main reason I wear number 34 is because, growing up, my favorite athlete was Len Bias from Maryland. I was around 9 or 10 when he was playing basketball for Maryland. He was a great athlete and great competitor and it always seemed like he was having so much fun when he played. He would always have some classic battles with Michael Jordan in college. I was devastated when he passed away. So, its kind of a tribute to him.
E-Lacrosse: I like that. I was a big Len Bias fan and was at the University of Maryland when he died. He was a great influence on a lot of athletes that watched him those years at Maryland. It's cool that you wear his number playing pro sports in Maryland 'cause he never got a chance to. OK, Lets jump into correcting some of the misconceptions about NDP and then we'll get into some greater detail about the tournaments and the program. Many of our readers read the articles about NDP last year, but it has changed a bunch since that time. Right?
Reese: Yes. NDP has changed from its original concept. Our focus is to run tournaments around the country that help the players get to the next level. We want to give them every tool necessary to play lacrosse in college. Aside from the games at the tournaments, there will be clinics, seminars that will educate them on the recruiting process and college applications. We will have some of the top college coaches in the game holding clinics for the coaches. Also our website will be a helpful for player to find information on college programs as well as college coaches to find info on players. We don't run tryouts or run any teams. Any existing team can sign up, or individual players can sign up.
E-Lacrosse: Does US Lacrosse have the same stance on NDP as last year?
Reese: No. US Lacrosse has changed their statement because we have made the necessary changes to NDP.
E-Lacrosse: Do I have to be on a team to enter NDP Tournaments?
Reese: No. If you don't play on a travel team, you can sign up to play in NDP tournaments. We will put you on a team that will compete. If any coaches want to bring an entire team, they can do that also.
E-Lacrosse: Some big name coaches have recently signed on to the board of NDP. Is the idea catching on now in the right places?
Reese: When people understand what we are and what we do, they get excited about it. The coaches on our advisory board are some of the top coaches in all of lacrosse. Plus, they come from a variety of levels DI,DII,DIII and MDIA. What we offer is pretty unique and it helps both the players and coaches.
E-Lacrosse: How does the NDP system benefit the E-Lacrosse reader in an area outside of the Maryland - New York Corridor?
Reese: There are plenty of kids outside the so called "hotbeds" of lacrosse who are really good players. Our tournaments offer the chance for these kids and teams, to compete against the best kids from around the country. For college coaches, they have the ability to compare a player from California to a player from Baltimore because they will be playing against each other. The talent of some of the players from outside the Maryland-New York Corridor is pretty good. Our tournaments give those players an opportunity to show off their ability.
E-Lacrosse: Is there still room in the NDP schedule for other sports and even Summer lacrosse camps and tournaments the kids might also want to attend?
Reese: Absolutely. The great thing about our events is that it takes place over a 3 day period. During that 3 days you get lots of playing time, a few clinics and seminars to help educate players for the recruiting process. We want to give the players every tool to have a successful college search. Plus, with our website, players can use that to help them long after the tournament is over.
E-Lacrosse: Does NDP have an official stance of athletes playing more than one sport?
Reese: We encourage it. All we do now is run summer events. Its just like any other camp but with greater benefits for players and coaches. All of us with NDP played multiple sports growing up. We would never tell anyone that they should only play lacrosse. That has been a huge misconception about us. Multiple sports are the way to go. Our events are geared towards those players who may have an interest in playing lacrosse in college. We want to educate them on the process and let them know about all the options out there.
E-Lacrosse: How will exposure to recruiters work within the NDP system?
Reese: The amount of exposure the players get is pretty unique. They will receive exposure before, during and after the tournaments. When a player registers, they can put their player profile up on our website. This will have personal bio, stats and academic information. College coaches can view all the players at any time to help them find what they are looking for. Then, obviously, players will be seen at the events themselves. Then, profiles with updated tournament stats can still be viewed after the tourneys. Plus, we will make DVDs available to coaches who want to see film of players. Even if a college coach cant make it to a particular tournament, they will still have access to the players who sign up for NDP.
E-Lacrosse: How do local coaches get involved if they want to?
Reese: Local coaches can get involved in a number of ways. They can bring their high school team. They can bring a club, travel or All Star team. Either way, it's a great way to help kids get more exposure to college coaches and to get them ready for their college search. Plus, we will be having clinics for the coaches given by some of the top college coaches in the game. We want to help them become better coaches which will obviously help the players
E-Lacrosse: Will there be much travel involved for the players?
Reese: We will be running 5 tournaments throughout the country. We wanted to give players more options and make it easier for them to travel. Instead of a player in Seattle having to fly across the country, they have the option of playing in Denver. The players can play where ever they want and in any number of tournaments they want. They are not restricted by their region at all. Having more options makes it easier for the players to schedule their summers.
E-Lacrosse: What is the ultimate goal of a NDP player? Is it to play in college, US team, pros… ?
Reese: I would think NDP Tournaments are for high school players that want to play lacrosse in college, whether it be DI,II,III or club. We want to make sure kids are aware of all their options. Its important for kids to pick the best school for them. We want to help them with that.
E-Lacrosse: Will personal skills be taught at the NDP level?
Reese: Yes. We will have clinics between the games. These clinics will be given by college coaches, college players, or Pro players. We will have specific position clinics that will help the players with their individual games.
E-Lacrosse: What is the difference between NDP and a camp?
Reese: An NDP Tournament is like a tournament, camp and recruiting service all wrapped up in one. You will have plenty of games and team play. There will be positional clinics throughout the day. Seminars and Coach's clinics will be held in the evenings. We want players who have an interest in playing lacrosse in college to get everything they need at our tournaments. Plus, there will be a lot of fun stuff as well.
E-Lacrosse: Can I be on the same team as my friends?
Reese: Yes. We can arrange that you can be on the same team as your buddies.
E-Lacrosse: Will there be uniforms?
Reese: Yes. If teams do not have uniforms, we can supply them. We want to be sure that college coaches, who are going to our tournaments to recruit, can identify players easily and accurately.
E-Lacrosse: What is the expected cost for a year's participation?
Reese: The cost for a player can be as little as $150! That gets you registration to one of our tournaments, and use of our website. Plus, if you want to play in 2 tournaments, you can do that for just $200. You cant find that anywhere else. There are recruiting services alone would cost you $200. We provide what they do as well as tournaments and clinics. Lodging and travel will be an additional cost. That info will be on our website. We want to help keep that cost to a minimum.
E-Lacrosse: Will I get to play with kids from other areas?
Reese: Yes. Our "At large" teams will consist of individuals from around the country and Canada.
E-Lacrosse: Are there trophies and awards for players (MVP, etc.)?
Reese: Yes. We will be giving out tournament MVPs as well as an All tournament team.
E-Lacrosse: How will NDP integrate or interact with the U-15, U-17 and U-19 programs and state programs like for the bay state games or keystone games?
Reese: We are just another place for those teams to showcase their abilities. We want those teams to compete in our tournaments against other teams from around the country.
E-Lacrosse: Who will be the coaches and or instructors?
Reese: The teams that enter will be bringing their own coaches. The At large teams will be coached by area coaches, professional players or college coaches.
E-Lacrosse: Will USILA (college clubs like Michigan and UCSB) coaches also be invited to participate?
Reese: Definitely. Its important for players to know what those programs have to offer. Plus, with the limited recruiting budget MDIA teams have, they have the opportunity to see a large amount of kids in one area. We also encourage those coaches to put teams together and bring them to compete.
E-Lacrosse: At what age can I apply to play?
Reese: Our tournaments are for kids who will be sophomores and juniors. The reason we don't have rising seniors is so that we don't interfere with other recruiting tournaments college coaches may run.
E-Lacrosse: Do I have to try out to make any team at all or are there different levels?
Reese: NDP does not run any tryouts or teams. If there is a club team in your area that you want to play for, they may have tryouts. Its entirely up to them. For instance, Baltimore Prep club team is participating. That team may have tryouts before NDP tournaments start. Its up to them. Anyone can play in our events.
E-Lacrosse: Who is behind NDP? Is it really Gary Gait?
Reese: Gary is the President of NDP. The whole concept came from his experience as a college coach. He wanted to improve the system that was out there now and make it simpler for both players and college coaches. He has gotten a lot of feedback from coaches at all levels and we think our structure will be extremely helpful to players.
E-Lacrosse: Is there an NDP for girls?
Reese: Yes. There are tournaments for both boys and girls this summer.
E-Lacrosse: Can Canadians participate?
Reese: Yes. We have a couple teams from Canada participating in our tournaments already. If there is a player who doesn't have a team, he can still register and be put on an at large team.
E-Lacrosse: Is there a way for Europeans to get involved in the summer programs (boarding)?
Reese: Sure. European teams can travel over and participate. We can help with lodging and travel for any team that needs it. We might be having at least 1 team form the UK participating this year as well as teams from Canada.
E-Lacrosse: What should I be working on in preparation for NDP?
Reese: Players should be concentrating on their spring season with their high school team. This is still the most important part of a lacrosse player's year. NDP will be an additional opportunity for kids to either play with their team or as individuals in the summer.
E-Lacrosse: What are the age groups?
Reese: The majority of our players will be those who have just finished their freshman and sophomore years of high school.
E-Lacrosse: How do I sign up?
Reese: You can sign up by going to www.ndplacrosse.com. Click on the player section and follow the instructions. If your coach has already registered, you will need the team name and password. If you plan on playing on an at large the website will take you through the registration process.
E-Lacrosse: When does it start?
Reese: The first tournament is June 24-26. Registration will need to be completed 2 weeks prior to that.
E-Lacrosse: Will there be tail gaiting and post game team activities including the parents?
Reese: That's up to them. We will have a "players lounge" type of area so players can hang out there between games. It will have a lot of cool stuff to make it fun for everyone. We will also have plenty of food vendors available. There will be plenty of vendors so you can buy whatever you need while your there.
E-Lacrosse: Do you still need coaches?
Reese: If anyone is interested in coaching an At Large team, they can contact us. The rest of the teams will already have coaches.
E-Lacrosse: What if I play varsity football too?
Reese: Our new structure only has competition in the summer so you can definitely play football.
E-Lacrosse: What if I have to miss an event or a couple weeks in the summer traveling with my family?
Reese: NDP is not a full time commitment. Its not a traveling tournament structure. All you need to do is find one of our tournaments that fit your schedule. You can play in an NDP tournament and still have the ability to go to other camps.
E-Lacrosse: How will a college coach know who I am? Is there a program for games and stuff?
Reese: Coaches will have player info for the tournament. They will have player contact information as well. College Coaches also have access to our website which will have player profiles.
E-Lacrosse: Is it a league?
Reese: NDP is not a league. Its just a summer tournament. We have a couple different dates and locations but players can play in as many as they want.
E-Lacrosse: Can I play more than one position?
Reese: That's up to the coach of your team
E-Lacrosse: Is there special instruction for goalies?
Reese: There will be goalie clinics at each tournament
E-Lacrosse: Who is Kroenke Sports?
Reese: Kroenke Sports owns NDP Lacrosse. They are also the organization that owns the Colorado Avalanche, Mammoth, Rapids and the Denver Nuggets. They are committed to running top notch tournaments. With Kroenke, we have an entire sports organization helping run the tournaments. They will definitely run first class events.
E-Lacrosse: Where is NDP located?
Reese: Our offices are located in Denver, Co
E-Lacrosse: Do I need any special equipment (like helmet color) for NDP?
Reese: No. You can bring your own equipment. We also offer an optional equipment package for teams. Teams can get a helmet, gloves, arm pads, shoulder pads, uniforms and Under Armour shorts, compression shorts, and shirt as well as a 1 year subscription to Inside Lacrosse for just $300.
E-Lacrosse: Can I play between my high school senior year and my college freshman year?
Reese: No. Our age groups are rising sophomores and rising juniors.
E-Lacrosse: Can I still play in the local summer league?
Reese: Yes. The good thing about our tournaments is that they only last 3 days.
E-Lacrosse: Where are the games?
Reese: The games will be held at a single location at each site. Players won't have to hop in their cars and travel to each game. Our tournament locations are Wellington, Fl (Palm beach Polo grounds), Denver, CO (Foothills Park), Syracuse, NY(N Syracuse HS), Baltimore, MD (Genesee Valley) and Malvern, Pa (Line Road Sports Complex)
E-Lacrosse: Does NDP need referees?
Reese: We are in the process of scheduling referees for all of our tournaments. If any referees are interested, they should contact us.
E-Lacrosse: Does NDP train coaches too?
Reese: We will hold seminars and clinics for coaches who bring their teams. We want to help them become the best coaches they can be. The best way to do this is by learning from the best. We will have some big name college coaches holding the coach's clinics.
E-Lacrosse: Can you get cut from NDP?
Reese: No. Much like you can't get cut at a camp.
E-Lacrosse: If my coach isn't involved, can I still play?
Reese: Yes. If you don't have a team to play with, you can still register and play in our tournaments. Individuals will be placed on teams with other players who don't have a team.
E-Lacrosse: Are the on field rules like high school rules?
Reese: Games will be played by NCAA rules.
E-Lacrosse: Is there a box lacrosse season in NDP or is there a box lacrosse NDP?
Reese: No. We only run field lacrosse tournaments in the summer.
E-Lacrosse: Can I work a summer job and still play?
Reese: Yes. Our tournaments will take place over a weekend. You will have plenty of time to work. We cannot be used as an excuse for not getting a Summer job.
E-Lacrosse: Thanks Brian. Say goodbye to the E-Lacrosse readers.
Reese: Bye, Bye. See you at the NDP Tournaments!