Champion Lacrosse providing pro training in literal sense
These days, some former players are helping to maintain that tradition, while making it attempting to make it stronger.
A group of highly-experienced coaches, including former Bandits Joe Smith and Frank Resetarits got together about three years ago to start Champion Lacrosse, which provides instruction and high-level competition for a collection of local high school lacrosse players.
“We got together and we saw a need for some quality coaching of guys that have played at the highest level,” Smith said. “We put them through basically college practices, and the other aspect is taking them to recruiting tournaments.”
Smith and Resetarits, a Hamburg native, enlisted the assistance of former Johns Hopkins University standout Jordan Jayson to get Champions Lacrosse started.
Smith played with the Bandits as well as the Rochester Knighthawks and Rochester Rattlers, winning the Rattlers 2007 Unsung Hero Award. He was also an assistant coach for Team Italy at the World Games. Before all of that, he helped Towson University to three CAA championships and a Final Four appearance in 2001.
Resetarits, the 10th leading scorer in NCAA history with 240 career points while at the University of Albany, also played for the Bandits, in addition to playing in the Major Lacrosse League outdoors for the Long Island Lizards and San Jose Stealth. Jayson led Johns Hopkins to a pair of Final Four appearances.
Also on the coaching staff is Brian Lalley, a former Ohio State University standout.
All have been through a lot on the lacrosse field and now they’re sharing that knowledge with the area’s future stars.
“We push them pretty good in practice,” Smith said. “We try to call it a college prep team. We try to give them a taste of what a college practice is like at Division I, II, and III levels. So when they do go to college, their eyes aren’t all wide open.”
With dozens of lacrosse players representing Western New York at the collegiate level and more on the way, the sport continues to emerge.
“More kids are playing and there are more opportunities for kids to play after high school,” Smith said. “Especially at the Division III level, a lot more schools are popping up with lacrosse. It’s really growing and growing in this area and it’s great for our coaches and our program to be a part of that direction.”
This year, Champion Lacrosse also started girls travel teams. They were led by Hamburg High School coach and former University of Connecticut standout Katy Ryan, Amherst High School coach and University at Albany alum Jodi Battaglia and Frontier assistant coach and Canisius College graduate Megan Portka.
“That’s our mission — to give them the best coaching we could find, and we have three of them that played at Division I level,” Smith said. “It’s an extension of the ideas of what we did with the boys. The girls game is growing just as fast as the boys game, if not faster.”
The travel teams enjoyed a plethora of success this summer.
Champion Lacrosse swept their play in going unbeaten at UPLax in Annapolis and Division 1 Experience at Rutgers University in New Jersey during a busy stretch of three days from June 30 to July 1.
The Select team, which consists primarily 2013 high school graduates, won the Elite Division Championship at Rutgers Division 1 Experience Lacrosse Tournament, while the younger Prep team, consisting mostly of 2014 graduates, went undefeated as well but there was no playoff at that level. Champion Select and Prep teams combined for a 6-0 record at the one day UPLax tournament in Maryland.
Champion Lacrosse has a lot more to offer, as well. Smith said private and group lessons can easily be accommodated by Champion Lacrosse. For more information, visit www.joesmithlacrosse.com.