We at SoundLacrosse sincerely hope all Washington lacrosse fans are fortunate enough to make it to this weekend’s Seatown Classic on Saturday. You and your players have never had an opportunity to see this many or this quality of lacrosse players in our state. With NCAA runners-up Notre Dame facing the US National team, we thought it would be fun to learn more about the Fighting Irish team. We caught up with ND’s Head Coach, Kevin Corrigan, at the Elite 80 Lacrosse Camp, Kris Snider’s excellent camp for NW high school players. Coach Corrigan is entering his 27th season at Notre Dame, but has also been coming to Seattle and the Elite 80 Camp for many summers.
Soundlacrosse: Welcome Coach Corrigan, this is your fifth year at the Elite 80 camp, what keeps bringing you back?
Kevin Corrigan: Well Kris Snider and his team always put on a top notch event and I’ve had great experiences in Seattle when I’m here for this camp. It’s unique in that I actually get to coach a team here. And I get to coach them against teams run by other great NCAA coaches. It’s a unique and wonderful format. I’ll coach more there in these three days than I will anywhere else this summer.
SL: What’s your opinion on the state of Washington lacrosse, based on your experiences?
KC: There’s no doubt there are lots of good athletes and plenty of good players. The question here, and in any non-hotbed area is can these players compete at a high level all the time. Hotbed players often face a good team every week, they practice everyday with 2nd and 3rd stringers who are also top players and recruits. That’s what Washington is lacking right now. So when we recruit out of a non-hotbed area, we have to feel comfortable that they can compete 100% of the time.
SL: What are three things players should work on if they want to play after high school?
KC: We judge every recruit on four things:
- Lacrosse Skills
- Lacrosse IQ
Here’s the thing, while the first three are important, we know we can make you better in all of the them with our coaching. But character is the most important attribute that we look for. Are you tough, tenacious, a good citizen, a good teammate and a good student? Because when you get to Notre Dame, those are things you have to bring with you. We can’t coach character, yet it’s the most important attribute in a recruit.
Look at it this way, if we recruit you in spite of a weak offhand, we can help you get better at that when you show up. But maybe you never get better and you end up a third string middie who can only throw righty. Okay, then perhaps we made a mistake recruiting you, but it doesn’t really hurt our program. But if we make a mistake on your character and you show up to Notre Dame as a jerk, that hurts everyone in the program. If you make bad decisions you can bring the whole program down. Plus our players are not only family, they spend a lot of time with my actual family. I can’t have jerks hanging out with my family. That’s why character is so important to us.
And here’s the problem, this most important attribute, the one we can’t coach you better at, the one that could jeopardize the whole team, is the one attribute that isn’t formed yet in high school freshmen and sophomores. This is the real problem with early recruiting. We can’t accurately evaluate you on the thing that is most important to us.
SL: Since you brought it up, let’s talk about early recruiting. Are there any advantages to it that you’ve found?
KC: Well, it’s easier for the coaches, for sure. But I still hate it. But it’s easier to find kids. Being Notre Dame and enjoying the recent success that we have, most of the top recruits come to us wanting to join our team. I used to have to recruit 50 kids to get one player. Now it’s closer to 2 for 1.
SL: You seem to recruit a lot out of Post Graduate schools, the so-called 5th year programs, is that a conscious decisions?
KC: We’re big fans of kids who take a PG year. First off, Notre Dame academics being what they are, that fifth year can really help a kid get his study habits together, to learn how to prioritize while living on his own. We like players to choose academically focused PG programs vs. athletic ones, because that’s where the big adjustment to Notre Dame comes. We’ve found that to be a great experience for players, it makes the transition to college a lot easier. Let me put it this way, we’ve never had a parent or a player say to us “That PG year, that was a bad idea.”
SL: What are you most proud of about Notre Dame lacrosse?
KC: We try to provide the best student athletic experience in the NCAA. We’re fortunate with the support we get from the University and from our great alumni network. I want these players to enjoy all the benefits of a Notre Dame education and I want them to see and meet successful alumni. We have lots of dinners with alumni where they speak to the team. Every year we have a Wall Street Alumni dinner, we’re proud there are currently over 50 Notre Dame lacrosse alumni working on Wall Street. We want our kids to talk with them and learn from them. We had another dinner in Denver with alumni who are big in the Denver professional community. We’re teaching our players that a Notre Dame education is a very special thing, it puts you in a special group. Additionally, every four years, the NCAA lets you take your team on an international tour, and we’re fortunate enough to have the funds to do that. This year, right after the NCAA championship game, we all got on a plane for a playing tour in Italy. Every Notre Dame player will have that experience once in their career.
SL: Let’s talk about the 2014 Seatown Classic versus the U.S. National team. What is your team trying to get out of that game?
KC: Well, first off, I want them to experience Seattle. We use fall ball as a way to give our kids a great experience. We will fly into town and will do some sort of “add-on” activity, something not lacrosse-related. We’ll also be doing some community service work, that’s a given with our program. We teach that as a mandatory thing, we all give back to the community.
SL: Lacrosse-wise, what should a fan be watching for in this game?
KC: Well, in fall ball we’re trying to teach our players our way of doing things. The young ones will get to see the field but we’ll all just be working on fundamentals. We’ll maybe use just a single scheme but use lots of nuances out of that. Our philosophy is that you can do lots of things poorly, maybe five things good, but only one thing great.
SL: Well congrats on your 2014 successes, ACC Champions and NCAA runners-up. It must still feel great.
KC: Thank you. One of the challenges is we’ve had no time to relax since all that happened. It still feels like yesterday. We had a summer of camps and recruiting, the players showed up to school in August, and now we’re into fall ball. We’ll finally get to slow down a little after this game. But we’re really looking forward to the Seatown Classic and can’t wait to get on the field and show Washington what Notre Dame lacrosse is all about.
Get your tickets to Saturday’s game and register for the clinics at www.seatownclassic.org. Don’t miss it, you won’t soon see this quality of play back in our area.