Ask Chris Goldberg why Philadelphia-area boys’ lacrosse has reached the same level as that played in Baltimore and Long Island, N.Y., and get ready for a thorough explanation.
What do you expect? The guy has his Ph.D. in education and is a teacher in the Interboro School District. He loves to instruct. Goldberg is also the publisher of PhillyLacrosse.com and TopLaxRecruits.com, the authorities on the sport in the region. “It’s impossible to deny that the Philadelphia area is as good as those others,” Goldberg says
Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case. Philly players were good but not good enough. That’s changed. Here’s why:
Coaching. A strong collection of mentors has been augmented by the arrivals from other areas on the prep, club and youth levels. For instance, Gary Martin—a Long Island native who played at Penn State and for the Philadelphia Wings—is helping the Radnor youth program thrive.
Growth. For decades, lacrosse was the province of the Main Line and a few select outposts in the five-county area. Today, practically every public school offers the sport, and more opportunities have brought more athletes to lax. “There are club and youth programs all over,” Goldberg says.
Facilities. With so many high schools boasting turf fields, the ability for year-round practice and games is huge. Independent sites have also sprouted, like United Sports in Downingtown and Maplezone Sports Institute in Garnet Valley. “There are a lot of places to play now,” says Goldberg.
Events. As recently as 10 years ago, top players who wanted to get noticed by college coaches were forced to travel. Now, the area’s “seven or eight” top club programs host showcases and tournaments every weekend of the recruiting season, which occurs from mid-June until the end of July and during November.