Former University of North Carolina standout Jason Sanders, the man behind the very successful East Coast group learnlax.com, is bringing his unique coaching and teaching abilities to Orange County this summer. MaxLaxOC.com sat down with Sanders to talk about his plans and his coaching style.
Sanders has had enormous success with his teams and launched a number of players into the highest level of lacrosse across Divisions I, II, and III. This year, Rage Beyond will have a HS-Varsity Select Team that he will be grooming for the same type of success the East Coast teams have seen. Rage Beyond will begin by participating in two tournaments this summer and will be adding more going forward. Practices for the Select Team will be in Irvine, at a location to be determined. Interested players should email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rage Beyond and LearnLax train players ages 7-22 in every position and offer advanced training sessions multiple times per year.
We had a chance to catch up with Jason earlier this week:
You are an East Coast guy that played at one of the top high school programs and then one of the top college programs in the country. What attracts you to to Orange County lacrosse?
Initially coming out to OC back in December 2013, I quickly came to realize the potential of the athletes and lack of training available in certain areas. I know lacrosse has been growing rapidly here for a few years, but it is still slightly behind the national scene and I feel Learn Lax/Rage Beyond can help close that gap more quickly. There are already a few great guys in the area making that happen and I am excited to join them to eventually make this a hotbed.
What are your top three goals for your Rage Beyond players this season?
My top three goals are to effectively train the players in all facets of the game, be as competitive as possible and help them with recruiting opportunities
How would you describe your coaching style?
I am a very open-minded coach and try to play a “run and gun” style. You need to be well conditioned and have strong skills to play that style. I allow players to make mistakes as long as they learn from them. My mantra is “make up for the mistake on the next play”. I don’t want players to ever play timid or reserved. They need to know their coaching staff supports them so they play with the most confidence they can.
California high school teams typically do not show up in the Top 25 national rankings. East Coast bias or reality?
I think right now it may be a combination of both. I know there are very good teams in California, yet to earn a spot in the Nat’l Top 25 you need to compete against the very best week in and week out. It will happen very soon.
What do you think distinguishes west coast lacrosse from east coast lacrosse?
I have found that West Coast lacrosse is a little more laid back in comparison to the East Coast. This may not be the case at every school. And, it’s only a matter of time until that laid back mentality changes. The more players who get recruited to play at good colleges, the more competitive teams will become.
What advice do you have for the young player looking forward to playing in high school?
Start by learning the basics. Proper form is key. I think wall ball is a great way to improve hand-eye coordination, become accurate and solidify your throwing/shooting form.
What advice do you have for the high school player who wants to play in college?
Train hard every day. It takes a steadfast commitment to play at any level in college. You need to have strong footwork, stick skills and lacrosse IQ.
Your favorite lacrosse memory as a player?
I’ve been fortunate to play on many great teams. Winning the State Championship my senior year of HS, with all of my childhood friends, is still very special.
Your favorite lacrosse memory as a coach?
My first year coaching HS was 1997 at Chapel Hill HS and we won the NC Public State Championship. It was really fun working with those players.
Who is going to win the NCAA Division 1 championship this year?
North Carolina Tar Heels, of course. (interview prior to the Tar Heels 3rd consecutive playoff defeat by Denver this weekend, sorry Jason)
Thanks Jason and good luck this summer!