SARASOTA — Reagan Griffith didn’t know what to expect.
It was an experience unlike any other.
The Cardinal Mooney High junior had never been a part of a tryout of this magnitude, but he knew the experience could benefit him in the long run.
In May, Griffith, along with teammate Alex Stoffel, tried out for the West Florida regional team in the hopes of landing a spot to compete for one of 25 spots to represent Florida in the 2014 Brine National Lacrosse Classic July 1 through July 3, in Maryland.
The two Cougars teammates competed against the top players from across the state for the opportunity to participate in the prestigious national tournament. After making the regional team and competing in a two-day tryout among the other three regional teams, Griffith and Stoffel learned in late May via email they had made the Florida team.
“I was excited because I wasn’t really expecting to make the team,” Griffith says. “I felt proud. It was my first year trying it, and I didn’t know what to expect. There was a lot of good competition there.
“I heard all about (the tournament), and I heard the Brine National Lacrosse Classic was a really good recruiting tournament. I (figured) I had a good chance to get recruited if I made the team.”
“I was ecstatic,” Stoffel says. “I was going against the best kids in Florida and knew this opportunity would be another great chance to get in front of a lot of college coaches for them to see me play.”
Griffith and Stoffel arrived June 30 in Maryland for their first and only practice with the Florida team. It was the players’ first chance to meet their teammates and see firsthand how each player performs and his strengths on the field.
“The toughest part is making sure we click early with our teammates from around the state,” Stoffel says. “Most people do not know each other at the beginning and we have to adjust to everyone’s style of play, different coaches and learning everyone’s name.”
Following their practice, the players began preparing for tournament play. Twenty teams from across the nation, including Maryland, New Jersey and New York, were divided into four groups for a series of pool play games. The top two teams in each group advanced to bracket play, which included quarterfinal, semifinal and championship rounds.
Griffith, who scored 83 goals this spring and was named Cardinal Mooney’s MVP, was hoping to showcase his offensive talents. Griffith started out as a midfielder when he started playing lacrosse eight years ago, but shortly thereafter his coaches switched him to attack, where he has been comfortable ever since.
“I feel like I’m a lot better at attack,” Griffith says. “I felt like this was my position. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
Meanwhile, Stoffel was hoping to have a strong defensive performance for the Florida National Team. Ultimately the two teammates planned to use the Brine National Lacrosse Classic as a way to get in front of college coaches and help put Florida on the map in terms of a rising lacrosse power.
“I’m looking forward to coaches watching me and trying to get recruited,” Griffith says. “I’m also hoping to show the people up here that Florida kids can play lacrosse. I’m hoping to win the tournament and show everyone that.”
“It means a lot to be able to showcase the state of Florida as a rising hotbed for lacrosse against typical hotbeds such as Long Island, Maryland and upstate New York,” Stoffel says. “I’m looking forward to playing in front of (college) coaches, as well as playing against the top players from around the country.”
Following the National Brine Lacrosse Classic, Griffith will compete in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Tournament July 11 to July 13, in Maryland, before returning home to spend the remainder of the summer competing with West Florida. Stoffel, who recently won a championship at the University of Delaware before heading to the Brine National Lacrosse Classic, will return home to compete with Crossfire Lacrosse.
About the Brine National Lacrosse Classic
In its seventh year, the 2014 Brine National Lacrosse Classic brings together the top players from around the nation.
The event features intense competition and exposure for those hoping to play lacrosse at the next level.
Participants are chosen based on their performance during regional team tryouts, which include individual position drills and scrimmages.
Those players chosen for the tournament then have the opportunity to participate in games, seminars and activities with the chance to win a national championship and showcase their talents in front of NCAA coaches.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].