Here is where the rubber meets the road. Your son has gone through his years of youth lacrosse and is about to attend his local or private high school. He has been to every camp, off-season workout and is ready to take on the JV team of every other school they might play. Reality check is that he might not make the team. There are more kids playing the game at a young age and not many high schools adding the sport. Therefore, not enough spots exist for all the kids playing our sport.
Other reality check-he may not play. High school coaches are going to win, no matter what. It is merit-based play. Your son is good enough or he is not. Is there a place for that kid that busts his ass to the ground ball-yes, but it is not on the starting attack line. He should nonetheless practice like he will play the next day. Injuries happen all the time. Grades can slip, eliminating eligibility. Some players get lazy. Some are great tryout players. Be ready.
Simple truths of high school lacrosse that will help with the transition:
1. There are no minimum play rules. Kids may play in "mop up" times, but that is an opportunity to shine. Do what the coach wants. If he wants you to go to the cage, do it. If he wants no shots on goal, don't shoot. I promise there is no faster way to get out of the game than to fail to follow directions.
2. Winning means more in high school. School pride, regional/national ranking, tv interviews are all things that can come with winning. None of these things come with losing or barely winning against a team that is not in the same class. There are kids that simply want to be on a winning team and that is ok. There are others that want to play, win or lose-that is ok, too. Parents-be ok with whatever type of kid you have.
3. No coach wants to cut kids. As I mentioned, there are not enough teams out there. The private schools, in particular, are inundated with kids that want to play. There are typically only 2 teams (JV and Varsity). The issue is that 30 kids on a team is a lot, 35 is a whole lot and 40 is essentially unmanageable. The simple formula is 6 attack, 1 a/m, 12 mids, 6 defenders, 2 lsm and 2 goalies. That is 28 kids. I guarantee that only 17 or 18 play in a game that has meaning, maybe less with injuries. Coaches want to play kids, but they have the priority to win first.
4. Most importantly, don't give up. If your son gets cut from the team as a freshman-go play high school club ball. It can still be competitive and the more they have the stick in their hand the better. Be supportive and go watch the high school play and find your place. If the team has a great X attack, don't look at that position. If they can't win a face-off, that is an opportunity. This goes for the players that made the team as well. There is always someone right behind you ready to take your spot. You earned the position by working hard and perfecting your craft. Keep it up, because the kid that got cut, has more time to practice getting better than you do.