Empower Parent Meeting 2015

What Will Change and What Will Stay the Same

On 11/8/15, Empower held a meeting for current and future Empower parents. Below is most of the information, with color added so it will be understandable to the website reader. Please pass this post along to anyone who might be interested, including your daughters. The full power point presentation from the meeting, which is in outline form, is at the end of this post.

EMPOWER: The People

  • 45 girls played with Empower this fall, representing 13 different towns. Goalies were free, and at one point, we had 7 goalies practicing.
  • 13 different coaches worked with the Empower players this fall, including 3 current Dartmouth players, 4 former Dartmouth coaches, 5 former college players (UVA, Middlebury, Dartmouth, Tufts and Brown), 1 former US Team player and 2 current Hanover High School players.
  • Marianne Bocock Doyle is now the Program Director.
  • Sarah Martin is the Director of Lacrosse and Coaching.
  • Reese Brown is now the Website Administrator.

Empower Is Great For…

  • 4th-8th graders who are excited for 7v7 and/or full-field lacrosse opportunities, our whole-player focus, a dose of lacrosse that balances well with other sports, local practices and skill development.
  • High school players who want more, local playing time and excellent coaching. These players might consider a larger, out-of-town club eventually, but for now want an option that is closer to home.
  • Players considering out-of-town club involvement and who are interested in case-by-case support toward that end.

Philosophy: What’s Staying The Same

  • Empower supports multi-sport athletes and continues to promote sport diversity. (US Lacrosse’s position is to encourage multi-sport participation through puberty. This position is supported by excellent and current research. Please find more information at http://empowerlacrosseclub.com/playing-multi-sports/.)
  • Empower focuses on long-term development of players.
  • Empower will continue with the whole-player approach to coaching. In 2015, highlights were as follows:
    • Leadership and Team-building: Cindy Pierce
    • Leadership and Communication: Brook Rainey (KUA)
    • Food/Health as a Female Athlete: Dr. Nancy Turkington
    • Avoiding Common Injuries: Dr. Rebecca Nash
    • Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, Stick Skill Challenge and Booklet, and setting broader personal goals.

Philosophy: Changes

  • We will evolve to skill-based groupings in each age group.
  • To that end, Empower will conduct evaluations to create Blue and White teams.
  • Tournament teams will likely come from the more skilled group.       This is a work-in-progress, and it is unclear at this point whether we will have try-outs for the summer 2016 full-field tournaments teams.
  • Practices for Blue and White teams will be held at the same time and place.
  • Blue and White teams will also play both separately and together during practice.
  • This allows Empower to have a system to encourage newer players to participate, but also to coach players with more skill or experience.

Offerings 2016

  • Winter: Seven practices at KUA for high school players and dedicated, strong middle school players who can safely play with high-school-age players.       Please e-mail Sarah Martin sarah-martin@comcast.net if you are unsure whether this is the right fit for your middle school player.
  • Spring: Memorial Day Clinic for 3rd-12th graders
  • Summer:
  • One or two multi-day practices/camps that will precede participation in one or two summer tournaments.
  • Look for tournament and practice/camp dates in Jan. or Feb.
  • The deadlines for registration are critical. If we do not have a team by the given date, we will not be able to register for the tournament. No longer are we able to register for tournaments a month or two in advance.
  • Fall:
  • 4th- through 8th Blue and white skill-based groupings.
  • 7v7 Tournament play.
  • High school offering for players who do not want to travel to a larger, out-of-town club, but want to play lacrosse.
  • 7v7 tournament play for high school if the numbers bear that out.

 How to Support Your Daughter

Parents have asked for information regarding player support and appropriate communication with coaches. This is just a start.

  • After playing, give your daughter a snack, water and say something like “I loved watching you play.”
  • As a parent, focus only on your daughter – not how she compares to other players, or who has attended what practice, or who seems to have a good or bad attitude, etc.
  • Player development is never linear or at consistent, predictable rates; it is always highly individual. Some players can apply some skills immediately; some skills take months – even years – to absorb and then put into action in a game situation. With complex skills, like team defense or moving off-ball on attack, often the players actually look worse as they practice a complicated concept.       They have to think when learning, and this slows them down. Some players grow early, dominate the field, and then have to focus later on skill acquisition to continuing being successful. As coaches, we have to make sure these players don’t get frustrated as the rest of the group catches up to their level of play.       Those who develop their strength, height and/or speed a little later are forced to focus on skill development early if they want to be successful; when they grow, they often catch up to, even surpass, those that have developed strength and speed earlier. Development comes in fits and starts; our job as coaches and parents is to articulate a growth mindset. As a player, this might sound like, “I’m having trouble with getting low on ground balls so far. What will help?” This does not sound like, “I am terrible at ground balls – always have been.       Just can’t do them.”
  • Coaches are focused on the long-term development of players, not on making it to the 10-minute “Championship Game” at one of the 7v7 tournaments.
  • The goal is balanced game time, but this may not be equal game time.
  • The safety of the players always comes first. This is especially true with age groups that play full checking and/or against a taller, older team.
  • Trust the coaches. It is impossible for a spectator or a parent to know the whole puzzle.

When Your Daughter Is Frustrated…

  • Take time to allow cooler heads to prevail.
  • Middle school is the appropriate time for your daughter to learn how to advocate for herself. Help your daughter think of a way to ask the coach about her play broadly. This is an important skill to learn and is consistent with the messages they are hearing at school.
  • Example: “I feel frustrated about my play. I feel completely out of it. Can you help me? What can I do to improve?”
  • Sometime a HEADS-UP e-mail from a parent is helpful to a coach.
  • A HEADS-UP e-mail saying that “Susan” has been thinking a lot about her play and is frustrated. She is going to try to chat with you before or after practice this week.
  • A HEADS-UP e-mail saying “Susan” is struggling in school/with medication/with family/with friends/with a bully/etc… Just want to give you a heads-up. Is there a time we can talk?”
  • And as we tell our children, the internet is potentially a bulletin board. Save sensitive conversations for the phone or in person.

“The DIII Question”

Although it is important to stay focused on enabling girls to be the best middle and high school players they can be, it is also helpful to understand the college-recruiting climate.

We have been asked to address the following question, and it is a good one: “If my daughter is interested in keeping the door open to play DII or DIII lacrosse in college, when do we, as a family, need to begin that process?” We call this, “The DIII Question.”

  • Take a deep breath – you have time.
  • This is a very individual process.
  • DIII and DII: Verbal “commitments” are offered to players in their junior and senior years of high school, generally.   (For reference, DI “commits” are offered between 8th and 10th grade. If your child has aspirations to play DI lacrosse, she needs to play with a larger club that has a national, versus regional, tournament schedule by middle school or ninth grade, at the very latest.
  • To avoid being blind-sided, you may set up an individual meeting with Sarah anytime. There will be a fee, as Empower does not want every player to bear the burden of this cost. Empower plans on hosting a recruiting information session in the spring.
  • There are excellent resources on-line and through US Lacrosse.       There are old-fashioned booklets, “webinars,” and dedicated websites. Please go to http://www.uslacrosse.org/participants/parents/recruiting.aspx for more information.
  • NINTH GRADE: If you begin conversations in ninth grade, there is still enough time for the DII and DIII recruiting schedule.

Going Forward: How You Can Help Empower?

  • Help Empower become a non-profit organization.
  • Offer ideas for speakers.
  • Volunteer to be a Parent Advisors.

Parent Advisors 2015/16

  • Jen Chambers                                    Elkins/New London  HS
  • Lynne Naughton                   Hanover                     7/8
  • Kara Toms                             Plainfield                    7/8
  • Lisa Lambert                         Cannan                       7/8
  • Lauren Girard Adams           Norwich                     5/6
  • Vickie McCorkle                     Hanover                     5/6

Role of Parent Advisors

  • Pass on communication, especially around registration time.
  • Read the website, with a parent lens, to make sure it is clear and complete.
  • Act as an Advisory Board when asked. This is over e-mail.
  • Provide occasional tournament support.

Upcoming Clinics

  • US National Team Clinic in Bedford, NH, on Saturday, December 19.
  • Look for winter clinics at UVM, UNH, Middlebury, Amherst and Williams and/or any school of interest.

The PowerPoint presentation may be found here.

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