Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interview with Coach Paul Wehrum Part 4

Here is an interview I did with my former coach Paul Wehrum on how the changes in the college recruiting culture has impacted prospective players. 

How would I fair today if I were a Herkimer player now in that Division 1 lacrosse recruiting/scholarship process as changed so drastically since 1983?

“Your chances would not be that good. The Division 1 programs are signing their kids earlier, you still have the schools that are saving spots for special situations—a need for a faceoff kid, a finisher, lefty attackman etc. You’ve have plenty of chances with second tier division 1 schools, but when it came to the [top ten schools] it would be highly unlikely that you would be one of their top recruits. But that being said, OCC has a bunch of kids playing at Syracuse. OCCC has become the Herkimer that was before I left. So even with the changing in recruiting, with a player of your ability, a two time All American, they would know who you are [because] you stood out you have to remember that. But if you don’t not make the nationals that would affect [your scholarship chances].”

I want to reiterate the point coach Wehrum is making here about recruiting today. A player’s opportunity to earn a scholarship at a top tier program (and those are the schools who have the full allotment of scholarship to grant out) are "seriously dimensioned," he says, if their team doesn’t make it to the final four of their state’s (or an travel team in an elite national tournament) championship "because it’s at the final four that the coaches from the top programs come to find players to fill the holes in their recruiting classes." Coach Wehrum goes on to say, “Our goal was to win the regionals to get to the nationals where the coaches would be waiting with scholarship offers to give to players who they thought could help their programs win,” he remembers. “They came to all of our games when we made to the nationals and that’s why so many of our kids got scholarship offers to great four year schools that played competitive college lacrosse.”

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Interview with Coach Paul Wehrum Part 3

Coach Wehrum encourages his players. Herk vs ArmyB team, at West Point circa1982. 

I an interview with my Junior College (Herkimer County Community College) Coach Paul Wehrum. A native of Roosevelt, New York, his resume includes All American honors as a attackman at Cortland State and as a coach, US Team Assistant Coach in 1998, National Hall of Fame, three undefeated seasons, 15 consecutive regional championships, and 7 National Championships. I asked about his reflections on my career and how would fair if I were a prospective player today.

Thinking about young players that read my blog, for example my son who is ten loves lacrosse, and wants to get better. How do you account for the success I've had in lacrosse as one of your former players?

You came to Herkimer with a passion for Lacrosse and you had great stick skills. I think you were a very very talented young man and you worked very very hard at your stick skills.”

Did you predict my success or did it surprise you?

I did not predict you success because early on you had allot of physical limitations, you were pigeon toed, [and had foot and knee surgery] and you shocked me with what you did after Herkimer at Syracuse as a player like what happened in that Hopkins game at Brown. You found a real joy in playing. You did not feel restricted by me or by Coach Simmons. But if you had gone to different kind of program that did not give you that freedom, you could have had a very different playing career.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Interview with Coach Paul Wehrum Part 2

Part 2 of my interview with Coach Wehrum who I played for at Herkimer County Community College before transferring to Syracuse. Coach played on some great Cortland teams on attack. He played attack with a long stick.

When and how did the program at Herkimer turn the corner and begin to dominate your regional championship and Junior College Lacrosse?

“We turned the program in 1984 when we won our first regional championship against Cobleskill. That same spring you played in [the first of two national televised] National Championship games at Syracuse; that helped a great deal with attracting great players to come to Herkimer. Other players went on to other schools and the program kept building and getting better thereafter. Then we started winning one National Junior College Championship after another and the program just starting attracting better players year after year and those players went on to star at four year schools at the Division 1 and III levels”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Interview with Coach Paul Wehrum Part 1

Coach Wehrum diagramming Xs and Os at a Herk vs Army B team, West Point circa 1982, click the image to enlarge it.

An interview I did with my Junior College (Herkimer County Community College) Coach, Hall of Famer Paul Wehrum. He is the only Junior College Coach in the National Hall of Fame and he served as US Team Coach in 1998. After three undefeated seasons, 15 consecutive regional championships, and 7 National Championships, coach retired as a Full Professor of Physical Education from the State of New York. He's now the head coach at Union College. 

Coach what were the keys to developing your successful career at Herk?

“The primary things were having an emphasis on the academics [by doing things like] only two hour practices. Using you as an example, I concentrated on your academics but also pushed you hard lacrosse wise and did the same with my other players. I made sure kids enjoyed both athletic and academic success and I would not let them give up because a teacher graded your paper and failed you. I encouraged them not to give up; most of our kids did not have great success in the classroom in high school. Then when players went on to good schools, their success naturally brought more players to Herkimer through word of mouth [and kind of a chain migration with repeat players from the same communities coming to Herkimer] from Croton, Baldwin, Yorktown, West Genesee, Irondequoit, and Homer.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Be a Steve Mabus To Some Young Player

Freshmen Game at Croton Point Park in 1978,  Fred Opie and Hank Vanassalt in the black shirts with white sleeves. 
I am looking at my lacrosse career through Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. It argues that success is a combination of opportunities, timing, and people in one's life.So how did I  explain my rise in the lacrosse world despite starting the game late and not coming from a  perennial powerhouse program in the sport?  The summer before I entered 9th or 10th Steve Mabus’ family moved to my neighborhood. Steve played college lacrosse for Kutz Town State and he had a lacrosse goal in his back yard.  Steve was like having a private coach and he worked with me all summer long before Steve returned to college. Over the years I have reflected on the significance of Steve on my skill development and toughness. I often end lacrosse speeches with the statement: Be a Steve Mabus to some young player in your circle of influence. 

My Series on Outliers:

Excerpts from Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, The Story of Success:

Interview with Malcom Gladwell on Outliers: [Listen Now 4 min 31 sec]

Croton and Yorktown Lacrosse: