Weekly Feature

2011-07-13 / Sports

HotShots Girls, Fastbreak camps focus on instruction


If you’re a parent and are looking for your child to learn about the sport of lacrosse, there are two excellent camps running this month at Amherst High School where this can be achieved.

The 14th annual HotShots Girls Lax Day Camp will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, July 18, through Thursday, July 21, followed by the 13th annual Fastbreak Lacrosse Camp, a primarily boys camp, from Monday, July 25, to Thursday, July 28.

Both camps will be held at the athletic fields adjacent to Amherst High School’s turf facility off Westmoreland Road.

What makes both camps stand out is their emphasis on teaching more than coaching.

“Our camps offer the necessary teaching,” HotShots Director Janet Battaglia said. “We are teaching young bodies that, if they learn properly, will perform well when in competition. It is the young player who gets shortchanged, because at this age, he or she is not confident enough or fast or strong enough to compete, but then lacks the necessary skills when they are physically ready to compete. That is the value of an instructional camp and the teachers that we provide.”

“FBL is a teaching camp, staffed by coaches and teachers,” Fastbreak

Lacrosse Director Stefan Henn added. “Teaching and coaching are not one and the same. They differ dramatically. I feel this is a tremendous strength of the camp.”

HotShots Girls Lax Day Camp

Originally called Niagara Lacrosse Camp and Patterson Lacrosse Camp, the camp was run by Carol and John Wesley Patterson (National Lacrosse Hall of Fame) at Niagara University. When Battaglia took over as Amherst head varsity girls lacrosse coach in 1999, she moved the camp from Niagara to Amherst and in the process, increased enrollment from 10 to 102.

When the camp first opened, Battaglia said many coaches were Canadian or U.S. World Cup players. as well as collegiate players and coaches. Battaglia said with the growth of the sport and their own interests in lacrosse, these coaches dwindled from their ranks.

Soon, Carol Patterson retired. and Battaglia took over the directorship in 2005 and became camp owner in 2008, renaming it Hot- Shots Lacrosse Camp.

Connections created in the early days led to many international teams coming to the Amherst fields and taking part in some of the days of camp. The camp has hosted teams from England and Australia. In 2007, the U.S. U19 National Team practiced on Amherst’s fields before heading to Peterborough, Ont. for the World Cup Games.

Battaglia said there are many more opportunities for girls to involve themselves in lacrosse. but she is fortunate that enrollment for HotShots is kept at about 90 campers. She is hoping enrollment increases to more than 100 this year.

The camp, open to girls ages 8 to 18 regardless of ability or experience, also offers a strong coaching staff of college coaches and players and area high school coaches who are committed to helping players take their game to the next level. There is a maximum 10-to-1 camper-to-coach ratio.

The cost is $220. Sibling and team discounts are also available.

“We just want to get lacrosse sticks in area girls’ hands and continue to see the growth of the sport,” Battaglia said. “Our registration fee has stayed the same for the past three years’ hoping to keep the cost affordable to local players and parents.”

The first 25 campers who register and pay in full each year get a free stick. Approximately 15 more free sticks and other equipment will be raffled off during the course of the camp. Blue Bison Sports on Main and Transit supplies the camp with merchandise and equipment for raffles and also provides a camp store on the last day.

For an additional $10 per day, interested campers can also take part in after-camp activities from 2 to 3:30 p.m. for smaller group and more intensive activities.

The younger girls who register for after-camp will be involved in a “World Cup” event. Campers will be broken down into smaller groups and represent various countries for this fun lacrosse competition each day. The older girls who register for after-camp will have the chance to train at the top and will receive a simulated collegiate practice and scrimmage session daily from college coaches and players.

The training at the top session will also be open to interested players who did not register for the day camp for an additional fee.

Lunchtime chats with coaches regarding playing opportunities, the importance of being a quality student and person, and what coaches look for in a player are also slated.

The coaching staff has also been enhanced with Battaglia’s daughter, Jodi and Nikki Branchini, both graduates this past spring from the University at Albany, and Canisius College 2011 graduate Allison Daley.

For more information, visit www.hotshotslaxcamp.com.

Fastbreak Lacrosse Camp

Henn, who founded Amherst’s varsity boys lacrosse team in 1994, and Jeremy Murphy started Fastbreak Lacrosse Camp, now in its 13th year, because they felt Western New York lacked a teaching-based lacrosse camp.

“It had several leagues, but none that provided what we felt at that time were intensely focused in on instruction of the required skills and concepts to play the game,” Henn said. “Our first year, we had 205 campers, largely due to the support for the camp’s success from all of the Western New York coaches that not only pushed camp in its early stages, but have also made it what is now a household name.”

The first three years, the camp was held at Amherst High School with players and coaches from all around the world. By the fourth year, the camp had outgrown its facility and moved to Sweet Home, where it stayed for the next eight years before coming back to Amherst.

When it was at Sweet Home, Murphy linked up with Ed Greenway and Rick Hopkins and took two teams to the United Kingdom, where they played and traveled with host families. The next year, more than 35 U.K. players enrolled in Fastbreak Lacrosse and had more than 250 kids that year.

This year’s camp is scheduled to have more than 100 campers and is broken down into two camps, a youth camp from 9 to 11 a.m. for both boys and girls and a boys-only camp for ages 8 to 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both camps have a 7-to-1 athlete-to-coach ratio.

The youth camp is for young Western New York lacrosse players who will have fun learning the game from the region’s best certified teachers and coaches. The goal is to make sure each youngster has fun while learning the basic skills of the game. A stick, mouth guard and goggles are required.

All youth campers will receive a lacrosse ball and a Fastbreak Lacrosse Camp T-shirt and have the option to purchase a stick for a reasonable price.

Raffles and free giveaways for helmets, sticks, lacrosse heads, shafts, pockets, T-shirts, hats and stickers will be held daily.

Special activities (balloon toss, fastest shot contest, most accurate goal contest) are also slated.

My Tomato Pie will supply food for the concession stand. Players Sports will provide players with the most up-to-date and affordable products.

The boys-only camp requires proper gear. Campers are organized by age and ability for position work and by teams for competition. Every athlete, regardless of skill level, receives top-notch instruction and individual attention from the staff.

The core of the program is based on daily scrimmages and games, intense position work and detailed attention to the team phases of the game (defense, riding, clearing, offense, shooting, faceoff).

The staff, which is composed of Division I, II and II collegiate coaches, as well as outstanding secondary school and junior college coaches, provides each athlete with a written evaluation designed to assist the athlete in his on-going effort to improve his play. College players also serve as demonstrators and counselors.

Campers will walk away with several authentic Fastbreak items, such as a reversible game jersey, T-shirt, posters, lanyards, giveaways and raffles items as well.

All athletes will receive an individual feedback sheet from team coaches, have the opportunity to win a number of lacrosse products via camp raffle, have off-field sessions (leadership qualities, study skills, being a good citizen) and special activities (fastest shot contest, new product demos, goalies individually videotaped throughout the week).

Fastbreak is one of the last remaining four-day lacrosse camps in the country and is Western New York’s most affordable camp. The total price for the boys camp is $225. The total price for the youth camp (ages 4 to 7) is $115.

Fastbreak has become nationally recognized not only for its commitment to the “lacrosse player” but also for stressing academic success and becoming a well-rounded citizen.

Fastbreak is also a sponsor of the Western New York Lacrosse for Kids Foundation, helping to support lacrosse families in need. Campers are organized by age and ability for position work and in teams for competition.

To register or to find more information about either camp, visit www.fastbreakwny.com, email fblcamp@hotmail.com or call 636-1152.

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