Ask FLN! – Our First Mailbag Gets Answered!

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Thanks to everyone for sending in your questions and let’s keep this going all year round!

 

From Pete:

As you are aware lacrosse was part of the spring sport district realignment this past year.  In 2016, districts will be re-evaluated for realignment.  Do you think the FHSAA will ever consider separate divisions for public and private schools?

 

I don’t really think so at this point Pete.  If there was going to be an impetus for this I would have expected it to be done already since in the past the private schools had more of an advantage when it came to feeder programs and school support.  But when you look at the Media Top 10  you see how much of a balance there is among private, public and even private religious schools.

LHP, SA, Benjamin, STA, MCC, Pope John Paul II, Columbus Catholic

Vs.

Jupiter, Barron Collier, Ponte Vedra, Boca Raton, Gulf Coast, Lake Mary

(Editor’s Note: thanks to Tom of Ponte Vedra for noting that Maclay and Oak Hall are private, not public.  My fault!)

That’s pretty balanced!

What might happen down the line is that lacrosse gets more influence within the FHSAA (let’s not kid ourselves, Football and Basketball still rule the roost down here) they might be persuaded to look at something like NY, where there are A, B and C divisions based on school size, or the MIAA, where you choose if you are A, B or C and can move up or down.

The biggest impediment right now to making delineations is the size of our state geographically and the school budgets for lacrosse.  Going to more divisions might even worsen the problem of competitiveness if the wealthier schools end up with a bigger advantage.  It’s so hard to travel for some of the top programs, like Ponte Vedra and Barron Collier to play more competitive schedules right now.  The better solution for now is to keep the ‘one size fits all’ and allow the areas taking the sport more seriously to continue to grow their competitiveness to make each area in the state able to support tougher schedules.

That’s at least my wish and thanks for the question!

 

From Mark,

Lee, what are your thoughts on Gulf Coast down in Naples? They have come up here to Tampa and beat Jesuit and Tampa Catholic. I see that they have also beat Cardinal Mooney and a couple of other teams with decent records. In looking at their roster they seem to be predominantly underclassmen.

Thanks, Mark.

 

Mark, thanks for the question!  Right now I think Gulf Coast is THE breakthrough story of the year.  We saw last year how far Barron Collier has come as a program and now they are #2 in my poll, having a fantastic season.  Gulf Coast is now joining them in the same location in Southwest Florida and it’s great to see that region join the party!  Gulf Coast was not taken as seriously earlier in the season because their schedule was considered weak.  Then they went to Tampa Jesuit and won on the road and came back home and beat Vero Beach, which really opened a lot of eyes.

Right now it looks like it will be a BC-GC showdown again in the Final 16, with the winner likely to get the winner of an STA-Columbus Catholic rematch for the right to go to Bradenton for the Final Four.  BC defeated GC 5-4 this week and that also affirmed their ranking right now.

Regardless of whether they get by BC in the playoffs this is really one of the great feel-good stories for the growth of lacrosse in this state.

 

Two From John in Orlando:

1) What is it about Maryland teams that is different from other teams and precludes us from scheduling games with them?

 

John, thanks for the submissions!  While we published an article on this earlier it bears thinking about again, as there is definitely some difference of opinion depending on who you talk to.  The FHSAA basically has ruled that if a conference does not adhere to a nationally recognized organization of high schools then Florida teams should not schedule games against that conference’s teams.

That ruling is why it looks like Florida schools will be precluded from scheduling MIAA teams next season.  They shouldn’t have been scheduled this year but since the ruling was not noted until after the games had been scheduled and the MIAA schools already spent the money for reservations, etc., the FHSAA let this year’s games go ahead.

Where it gets interesting is that the way the FHSAA bylaws are worded there is some wiggle room, according to some sources who are working behind the scenes to get the FHSAA to accommodate the lacrosse world.  As we get more familiar with the battle going on we will update our thoughts in the web site.  As we’ve stated before, having the MIAA schools coming down to Florida to start their seasons off only benefits the game down here, as the MIAA is generally regarded by most lacrosse fans to have the best conference-wide lacrosse in the entire country, and our kids get such valuable experience and exposure from playing those games!

 

2) How many teams will we need before we can have two divisions:  A and B or 1A and 2A or something similar?

 

As I answered above I don’t think it’s a matter of numbers of schools as much as geography and budgets.  Where there are such divisions, like in Maryland or New York, you have much more history and infrastructure of this sport.  We still have a ways to go before Florida thinks about lacrosse the same way.

But one day . . .

 

From Lee in Boca:

Yeah, a little cheesy, but I want to address something that I get asked frequently about my game coverage schedule and how do I pick the games I go to.

When the schedules start to come out I think through a number of permutations to start.  In my area (I live in Boca Raton) we now have not only a lot of great high school programs but also the new Lynn DII team, top MCLA DII programs like Palm Beach Atlantic, club teams like FAU, Miami, etc., and now the new MLL Florida Launch!  It’s almost an embarrassment of riches for me!

So I get out my handy planner – sorry, still Old School in some things like actually WRITING something in paper and ink – and start with the prestige games, at least those I believe to be going into the season for the high schools.  We are after all, more focused on the high school game for now as the college and pro game start to gain.  I then looked at the Lynn schedule and tried to slot some of the home games in too.  The Florida Launch don’t start until April 26th, which is the week of playoff games (Final 16 and Final 8) so there isn’t any conflict there until the Final 4 in Bradenton, when I will miss the second MLL game.

This year I wanted to try to also give some programs that are not necessarily going to be state title contenders a game with full coverage so that we can encourage those coaches and kids who are not bigger names to keep striving to make their programs grow.  Some of the programs I featured this year include teams that are ranked in the bottom 25% of the power rankings but I thought it was important for the long term growth of the sport to make the efforts to introduce the readers to programs they aren’t familiar with.

Geography obviously plays a role in this.  I am a Financial Advisor by profession an d unable to travel too far from Boca during a week day; Melbourne was a special trip on a Wednesday and I felt it the next day.  Of course, if I win Powerball or marry into the Zuckerberg family that will change things but I’m not counting on it.

So we put all that into the blender and come up with a projected schedule.  So far I written up 28 full game reviews and a few feature stories for games I’ve attended.  We are only 7 weeks removed from the Feb 15th opening of the season so it’s easy to do the math.  I expect to do at least a game every day down here during the playoffs that are played and the Final Four weekend.

Throw in showcase events, camps, preseason jamborees and other events and it can get pretty busy during the season!

What happens is that I adjust the games I see based on how the season unfolds and the need to see teams I haven’t seen play out.  I was able to see Top 10 teams like Barron Collier, Ponte Vedra and Lake Mary once each because they traveled to the area.  I did not know Gulf Coast was coming to STA to play Milton (Ga.) or I would have attended that one too.  I saw Jupiter a lot because many of their big games were home games this year.  Boca Raton also appeared on schedule more because of the start they got off to.

As the season went on I kept adjusted and a few schools like Saint Andrew’s did not get too much coverage from me, unlike in previous years.

So, this is the insight I put into how I develop my schedule and how it adjusts.  Hope that the coaches and parents of schools I didn’t see this year understand that with so many schools I can’t get to every school even in my geographical area in a given year but I do want to try to cover each school in my area at least once every four years or so, or as their story evolves!

Thanks to Lee in Boca for that submission!

 

Oh, okay, that was a little cheesy too . . .

 

Keep sending in your lacrosse questions all year long and when we get enough I’ll pull out the mail bag again and give it another go round.