The Pacific Coast Shootout matters.
It matters that two of the nation's most storied programs are heading West to play a game.
We recently sat down with the event's Executive Director G.W. Mix to get the answer to that and a few other questions about California's premier lacrosse showcase.
PCS News: Tell us why the Pacific Coast Shootout matters.
GWM: First and foremost, for several of the top Division I college coaches to agree to play a regular season game in Southern California says an awful lot about the value they put in playing on the West Coast. We have had Denver, Maryland, North Carolina and Notre Dame come here, Maryland and Notre Dame twice. Those teams represent the past two national champions and all of them have been to at least two Final Fours since the Shootout began. Now we have two more marquee programs - Virginia and Cornell making the trip. I think all of these coaches realize that Southern California is a valuable market - for recruiting purposes and brand exposure for their universities.
It also matters because it is unique. Where else can top ten teams provide their student-athletes with such a great experience - a paid trip to California, beach days in March, a visit to the Naval Special Warfare Training Center (think SEALS), and a mid-season crowd of close to 7,000 people watching them play a pivotal game in their season. It matters. It helps with recruiting, and it helps keep their team excited to go to work. It's forty degrees back home for everyone else and the Shootout teams are practicing a mile ot two from the Pacific Ocean in 70 degree weather.
PCS News: How did it come about?
GWM: The event originally started when my son Ryan's college coach Kevin Corrigan agreed to move Notre Dame's 2014 home game against Denver to Orange County. He had many reasons why it made sense. He saw it as an opportunity for Ryan and many of his West Coast teammates to play in their home state. They travel all over the East Coast during the regular season, but the West Coast kids never get to play in front of family, friends and former teammates - now they could. Playing here gave his players and coaching staff an "all expenses paid" trip to California during Spring Break - not bad if you live in South Bend, Indiana. It also gave them a great crowd for a very important game - a crowd they knew they would not have if they played Denver oncampus during Spring Break.
Lastly, and perhaps most impactful for our lacrosse community, was that Kevin saw it as a way to give back to the game - it was a chance to show the rapidly developing lacrosse culture in Southern California how the game is played at its highest level and how players and coaches at the sport's summit compete with honor, humility and integrity. Those are important principles at places like Cornell, Denver, Maryland, Notre Dame, UNC and UVA. Kevin and I both believed that was a good thing for our kids, our parents and our community to experience firsthand.
PCS News: I am a high school coach in Southern California. Tell me why should I bring my program to the Shootout?
GWM: First, because it's fun, but also because it is one of the best teaching tools you will ever have. I am a high school coach (Corona del Mar HS in Newport Beach, CA) and one of the biggest challenges we have is getting our kids to visualize what we are trying to teach them. Back East it is easy. There are college games to watch within an hour's drive of just about every high school player, but out here it is impossible to see high level NCAA lacrosse without flying to Denver. The Shootout provides a great opportunity for every coach and player in Southern California to learn what the game demands of you. It's extremely valuable.
The high school and youth teams that have come to the Shootout come back every year, with more people than the year before. They love the experience, the game and the team bonding opportunity it provides. It's a pretty special night.
As a fairly active coach, I find myself at a lot of games and lacrosse events. I constantly hear from players and parents how they "want to play Division I." The reality is that 90% of them don't even know what that means. Two hours at the Shootout clears it up pretty quickly. While the experience might extinguish a few wildfires in some people in attendance, it also ignites a burning desire in others, giving them the motivation to work harder and do whatever it takes to play at a higher level.
And that's why it matters.