Ruiz Shines at Project 9.9


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131116Ruiz3Fifty two top high school lacrosse players from 16 states and Canada spent Columbus Day weekend learning the art of domination at the lacrosse boot camp that is Project 9.9. Lacrosse greats Mark Millon and Paul Rabil, the founders of Project 9.9, work with recruiting experts to identify the best high school position lacrosse players in North America, and then extend personal invitations to those players who they think have the Right Stuff. Santa Margarita Catholic High School senior Hayden Ruiz was the only player from Orange County to make the event. sat down with the future Boston University Terrier and his father Rudy to learn more about Project 9.9.

Project 9.9 is an intense three day (Saturday, Sunday, Monday) training session designed to make the great high school players elite. The fundamental concept of Project 9.9 seems pretty simple. Spend three days competing against the best, learning from the best, and being pushed by the best. In addition to the on field training, Project 9.9 packs video instruction, chalkboard sessions, one-on-one evaluations, weight room training, and even yoga into the three day session. Attendance is by invitation only. Hayden received his invitation in July and he was told that he was one of only 150 players in the country to receive.

Working the quads with a chair pose after a full day of lacrosse
Working the quads at yoga

Hayden and Rudy say that the high school talent at Project 9.9 was the best and the competition the most intense that they had had ever seen assembled on one field. That’s high praise when you consider that Hayden plays club ball for the West Coast Starz and made the West Coast Under Armour team. They spoke equally highly of the cast of Major League Lacrosse All Stars that gave position-specific coaching all weekend long.

Ruiz unloading the righty rip!
Ruiz unloading the righty rip!

The program is not for the feint of heart or the casual lacrosse player. The Saturday and Sunday sessions went until 11:00 pm. The final session on Monday ended at 2:00 pm. Although there is some scrimmaging, the emphasis is on fast-paced, intense drills in which players are not only pushing themselves to improve but also competing against one another. The coaches are constantly evaluating player performance and effort, and then posting player rankings every day. Players move up and down the rankings over the weekend based on their daily performance.

Player rankings.  Who's that at #3 middie?
Player rankings. Who’s that at #3 middie?

Ok, so the coaching was great and the competition was superb, what about the food, transportations, etc, you ask? Rudy says that the event was first class from beginning to end. The players stayed in a very comfortable hotel with two players per room. The food was great and there was plenty of it. The players were transported to the practice fields at St. Paul’s School and Loyola University in luxury buses. And perhaps best of all the players were treated to new uniforms every day. Check out the pics to see if you like what you see. The cost for the event is not trivial at $1,250 for three days of lacrosse but the man who paid Hayden’s bill says it was “worth every penny”.

Want to learn more about Project 9.9.? Check out their website and the video below.