UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby WestCoastLax » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:33 pm

I have been taking a look at all the rosters for the various travel teams in the under-15 teams this year. I think the National Championship selection commitee did a sensational job picking their team for Florida (bring it home NorCal!!), as well as the players going to Vail. But looking at the raw numbers provided for the Festival teams, there's something which I think needs to be answered.

How is it the Tomahawks, a bottom third level lacrosse team, had six players selected for the Festival teams, while a team like Pleasanton - the second best team in Northern California last year in under-13 (beat the Scoprions twice and soundly beat the Firehawks) and one of the top four teams in Northern California this year in under-15 play, got one player selected. In all, Pleasanton got two players selected to travel teams - Josh Miller to Vail and Connor Veit on the festival team.

Yet the Tomahawks, who play Pleasanton next Sunday, got 6 players on the Festival teams. What's the common denominator here?? The Tomahawks coach was in charge of the Festival selections. You say that had nothing to do with it, I say really? How else would you explain it. They are a very average team, who has not played a very tough schedule, yet have a losing record.

Is there an anti-Pleasanton bias? If so, why? There are 6-7 players on Pleasanton worthy of being on at the very least, the Festival team. [deleted by moderator] are all very good players, as good as any of the Tomahawks players to be sure. Those five along with Veit and Miller all deserve to be on travel teams.

Let's see what happens when the Tomahawks and Pleasanton play next week. If the Tomhawks win, I guess we understand why they have so many players on the Festival teams. If they don't. then what?
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby groundball » Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:46 am

Valid points WestCoast...........

Pleasanton has some very solid players and I was surprised to see the rosters absent some of them. I am not sure how a team ranked 20th in the power rankings had so many players. Also was very surprised to see [deleted by moderator] as an alternate as he is significantly better than [deleted by moderator].

I was also under the impression that representation on the teams would be capped at three players from each club for Festival. At least that is what I had heard prior to the try outs.
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby WestCoastLax » Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:05 am

Great point on [deleted by moderator] -- seen him a number of times and he's a much stronger goalie than the four listed above him. I also heard the same thing about capping the number of players, but maybe it was three per team, not three overall?? Not sure.
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby picknroll » Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:19 am

Hey guys, let's not call out youth players names comparing them. That's not what this forum is about.
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby WestCoastLax » Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:13 pm

Pick -- only called out the names of players who we felt were overlooked, not the kids who were picked....But fair enough -- agree with what you're saying.
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby picknroll » Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:26 pm

Multiple things going on here ... here's my take.

First off these travel teams are considered NCJLA "All Stars". I think the bags even say Nor Call All Star on them if I remember right? IMO, a player does not earn the "All Star" designation from a 2 hour try out. "All Star" is earned through play on the field in NCJLA league games. In most other sports theres a coaches vote or impartial selection to determine "All Stars" based on the seasons resuls. That's how "All Stars" are determined in most any other sports that I've been seen. We don't have that method of selecting NCJLA All Stars, so the travel team members become All Stars by proxy.

Travel team selection becomes disjoint from what we consider "All Stars" through many circumstances:

1. An "All Star" caliber player my choose not to participate in a travel team due to personal conflicts or any other reason. Because such a player chooses not to play on a travel team, that does not mean that he is not an "All Star" (IMO).
2. The objective of travel team selection is to select the best team, not the best players. You might think it's obvious that the best players comprise the best team, but not necessarily. Consider the situation that the 5 best attack players turned out to be lefty. In an All Star selection situation that's not a problem, but when fielding a team you probably want more balance. That's an extreme situation, but I'm sure you get the point. The coach is trying to fill situational needs instead of just purely finding the best players.
3. Any coach is going to select players to fit his own style, so the answer is going to be different (players selected) depending on which coach is picking. One coach my favor a transition game and emphasize speed while another may emphasize motion offense and on and on.
4. The coaches of these teams are usually not paid professional coaches. They are volunteers with a home club. Whether intended or not, there is inherent bias if these coaches are placed in charge of selecting a team. It is only human nature to believe that your own players are good ones. If anything I would fault the NCJLA system that creates the need for these volunteer coaches to select a team.
5. A tryout is imperfect. I've ran many tryouts myself. The outcome is highly variable. It takes a lot to properly evaluate a player. A tryout is not necessarily a true indicator of the talent level of a player. Also the format of the tryout is a big variable.

So what is the solution? Same thing I've been saying for a while - NCJLA needs to exit the travel team business. Private travel clubs can fill their roster any way that they want. Fairness in selection is not an issue there. Team Talon can use a ouija board for selection and it's none of my business. As soon as you tie the NCJLA name to the teams then all these issues arise. Time for the NCJLA to get out and wash their hands of such worries. If the NCJLA is involved there needs to be governance, but there is limited resource in the NCJLA so they don't need to be worrying about this stuff. Leave the travel team business to free enterprise. It's time.

If the NCJLA decided to have U15A All Star selection based on coaches vote I would have no problem with that. Not a travel team, just all star selection. That might be fun and be a more appropriate way to recognize "All Stars". Maybe even an All Star game between two teams. That could be fun too, but "National Champion" teams and such - nah. Enough of that.
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby luvlax » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:14 am

westcoast - Do I taste sour grapes here? You started other forum on u15 tryouts and were complaining on that one also about the high school boys involved. Now, you are turning to the festival teams. All teams have been chosen as fair as possible. There might be one or two boys on the national and festival teams that would be border line. Let it alone and let the coaches do their jobs. Wish all of the boys well and forget about it. Everywhere you go in life (I'm sure you are a big boy now) you come across situations that just are not fair in your opinion. Keep the bright side out. :D :D :D
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby WestCoastLax » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:57 am

LuvLax -- no sour grapes, don't have any boys in Junior lax any longer. Just asking questions instead of burying my head in the sand. You don't think we should ever question anything if it appears fishy? Just choose to not go through life following in line with the rest of the lemmings of the world. Sorry to disappoint you. I think I asked some valid points and am just looking for answers from someone associated with the tryouts. Although I do agree with Pic that travel teams should just go private, then anyone can pick the teams any way they want without the illusion of it being an "open tryout."
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby norcalcoach » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:47 pm

I have more than a little bit to do with this program. We do our best to evaluate kids fairly. We do place limits on the number of kids on each team - there was a guideline of 3 max per team for U15 and U13 this year. Do we make mistakes? Probably. It is not our job in life to attend every game played by every major team so we can create a scientifically accurate rating system. We collect extensive recommendations from coaches, and player statements. But, let me tell you, even with that, it is hard to discern the differences, because every coach uses the same superlatives. When you have three hours to evaluate 140 kids, your head spins. The Top 20% stand out, the bottom 20% stand out, and everyone in between is a challenge to evaluate. So, you do your best. We have no parents in any of the NorCal coaching positions. This - in my mind - eliminates a large number of the inherent biases in the selection of travel teams. Some teams have more than others - I think I added it up and 6 programs have at least 6 kids on the teams.

The common complaint has always been that a small number of teams dominate the NorCal selections. The Scorpions were probably the worst offenders (but I do not blame them, it is normal human behavior to want to do things to benefit your kid or your program). This year again we have 24 different programs with kids participating. We do this (and have two teams per level) so that more kids can participate, from new programs as well as old programs.

And we'll let the results speak for themselves. Last year we took our Festival team to the Palm Springs Tournament, and we beat the Vail team, which was a combination of kids from the Vail team and the National U15 team.

Can someone out there make the case that they know a kid who is better than someone who was put on the team? Sure. They might be right. But, in the end, I measure our success by how we do with the kids we accept. The number of stories of U15 Festival kids who made Varsity as freshman is stunning. The three starting attack last year from the Blue Festival U15 team scored together more than 80 goals as *freshman* on their Varsity programs. And they weren't Scorpions who went to SI or SRV. They were three kids from Palo Alto HS, Mountain View HS, and Davis HS - not exactly powerhouse HS programs yet.

I don't let a less than perfect selection process jade the incredible experience these kids have. We do our best, and then pour our hearts into giving the 88 kids we select an incredible opportunity.
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Re: UNDER-15 TRAVEL TEAMS

Postby Bay Area Lax » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:29 pm

norcalcoach wrote:And we'll let the results speak for themselves. Last year we took our Festival team to the Palm Springs Tournament, and we beat the Vail team, which was a combination of kids from the Vail team and the National U15 team.


Your festival team beat the Vail/National team after they played 2 consecutive games against the top two teams at the tournament, one guy collapsed from dehydration and two of the top players were fighting illness. As I recall the next morning after everyone was fed and rested, the Vail/National team completely ran over both festival teams there. I applaud your team on the first win, but let's put the whole picture up. The Vail/National team went on to the semi's while the Festival teams played the consolation game. There were a few talented players on the Festival teams but it seems they would have been stronger had they not diluted the talent between two teams.

This year I have heard from several parents who have kids on the festival teams, that they wonder about the success of the festival teams this Summer due to the questionable talent selected for the teams. I don't want this to turn into a he said she said about selection, but I am putting it out there that I have heard legitimate concerns from parents who are being asked to shell out a pretty penny and are not convinced that they are getting a return on their investment.

I know for a fact that there were coaches at last year's tryouts who's players did not make either the Vail or National team and those coaches proceeded to email and call the evaluators of the tryouts pleading their case. I am not going to name clubs but there were 2 in particular that wouldn't let it go.

Here's what I do know: sometimes kids just don't have good tryouts, for whatever reason. The kids who made probably had a good tryout and might have had some help from a head coach to make the team, those who didn't probably did not have a good tryout and probably did not have a coach help plead the case that they should be on the team.

Either way, yes it is absolutely taxing to try and evaluate 140 kids in a 3 hour time frame and these volunteer coaches do a spectacular job, but I too agree that it is time for the NCJLA to get out of the travel team business. If the Tomahawks want to do their own Tomahawk travel team they should do it and do it whatever way they want. But if you are putting together some of the top talent in NorCal then it IS your job to be as fair as possible. This is not the first year I have heard about the bias coming from the Festival team tryouts, and I suppose I don't have an answer other than if you are an evaluator and you are showing bias to players from your club, whatever club it may be, you are only hurting your travel team in the end.

It is the player's responsibility to be as prepared as possible for these tryouts, and it is the evaluators responsibility to be as fair as possible to achieve the goal of putting together the most competitive team possible for the tourney they are traveling to. I think after this year you will see a lot more private travel teams pop up and it is time for the NCJLA to step back.
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