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Q&A with Josh Porcell of Rogue Lacrosse

Following his graduation from Saratoga High School, Josh Porcell continued developing his skills and passion for lacrosse at the Bridgton Academy, Essex Community College, and University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).  Following his graduation from UMBC, Porcell played for the Boston Cannons, Chicago Machine, and Ohio Machine of Major League Lacrosse (MLL).  He would go on to establish the Rogue Lacrosse club program to share his knowledge and passion for the game with youth and high school players.  In addition to his role as CEO of Rogue Lacrosse, more recently Porcell has also had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer assistant coach with the Siena College men’s lacrosse program.  He recently took the time to answer some questions for Capital District Lax.

You weren’t introduced to the game of lacrosse until high school.  With what many would consider a late start, how did you develop your skills which would allow you to succeed at the Division 1 and MLL levels?

JP: It took a lot of hard work and dedication. I had an internal drive to be the best player I could possibly be. As a young player all I would think about was lacrosse, I always had my stick in my hand trying to make myself better. It was because I started so late that I worked extra hard. All of my friends had been playing for years and I had to work twice as hard to catch up. That drive stuck with me throughout my career. I always worked hard to try and be the best player on the field and took it upon myself to make sure I pushed myself to practice and train myself for the next level.

How did that experience of developing your own skills influence the coaching philosophies and methods you would later implement with Rogue Lacrosse?

JP: I created Rogue because I wish there was a program like it when I was growing up. The tools I used to make my self better are things that we highlight at Rogue. WALL BALL, WALL BALL, WALL BALL, that is how I immediately made myself better. I had a goal in my back yard and the chimney on my parent’s house. I would throw against the chimney and shoot everyday. I also learned that at the end of the day it’s up to you as a player to put in the work to get better. Coaches can only guide and motivate you so far, but as coaches we can’t play the game for you. It’s up to the players to put in the work and effort to become better and the parents to provide the support to their children and encourage their commitment to the game. At the end of the day it is on YOU to make YOURSELF better with the tools that you have been given and your own internal drive. In college at UMBC, I was very fortunate to get to play for some great coaches. Coach Don Zimmerman (UMBC), Kevin Warne (Georgetown) and Rob Cross (Siena). They instilled a strong work ethic in me and that combined with a focus on fundamentals skills is what I encourage at Rogue.

When did you know that you would make a career out of lacrosse?

JP: In 2008 I was drafted to play in the MLL for the Boston Cannons. As a team we had the opportunity to coach several local youth programs in the Boston area throughout the summer, and I fell in love with coaching. Coaching was a new challenge that I found extremely rewarding and difficult because you have no control of the situation the players are in, you can only help guide them to make the right decisions and help them continue to build their skills. Like I said earlier, as coaches we can’t play for you, so to be able to express to players how to do things that you do so naturally is very difficult. I knew from that summer on that I wanted to be a coach and help players reach their maximum potential.  

Tell us about Rogue’s connection to the Siena College lacrosse program.

JP: Rogue’s connection with Siena has been though the relationships I have built with the coaching staff there. I have known Coach Svec and his wife for some time now and when I was at UMBC I played for Coach Cross. It was a natural and easy fit for me to start bringing Rogue to Siena and combine the knowledge and passion of both the Rogue and Siena coaches. Our philosophies and goals are aligned in what we hope to teach and bring to the current game of youth lacrosse.

Working with Siena this past year was a great experience for me to get back to coaching at a high level again. After I graduated from UMBC I coached at the college level for 3 years. I then moved back home to Saratoga Springs where I coached at the High School level for 3 years while also focusing on building the Rogue program. I missed coaching at the collegiate level and I was lucky enough to have Coach Svec bring me in and coach with his program. Coming from UMBC and understanding the system that Coach Cross taught us there, made it very easy for me to come to Siena and help immediately. I knew the system and it made the process almost turn key for me to come in and help.

Tell us about Rogue’s NY coaching staff.

JP: Our staff is what sets us apart from the lacrosse “instructional” companies throughout the country. I pride myself on our staff and the knowledge and experience they bring to the field to share with young players. We are not comprised of a bunch of dads who started up a program because their son was interested in the game nor are we a group of former players who played a few years of High School or even college lacrosse. We are current and former professional players. This sport is what we have chosen as our professions. When it comes to summer camps and clinics, I truly believe there are very few companies out there who teach the game of lacrosse as well as we do at Rogue and that is because of the staff that I bring in to coach the players. Coaches for the 2016 camp at Siena College include, Kyle Hartzell (NY Lizards, Team USA), Tucker Durkin (FL Launch, Team USA), JoJo Marasco (NY Lizards, Team USA), Drew Adams (NY Lizards, Team USA), Terry Kimener (Charlotte Hounds), Greg Gurenlian and the Face Off Academy (NY Lizards, Team USA), as well as the Siena College Coaching Staff, John Svec, Rob Cross and Connor Gill. If you don’t know who these guys are just take a look at YouTube. They are each the best players at their respective positions in the world. It doesn’t get any better then this when it comes to coaching and experience. These coaches are at camp from start to finish, not just for an hour like most camps in the country.  5 Team USA Players, 6 Pro’s, and a full Division 1 coaching staff, plus local varsity coaches from the area. Players from the area no longer need to travel hours away to get tier 1 coaching. It’s right here in our back yard. This is why I started Rogue to bring the best coaching available to young players.

Rogue now also operates summer travel teams and summer camps in Arizona and Louisiana, and a summer camp in Dallas.  Tell us about the growth of the game that you are observing in those areas.  Being able to travel throughout the country and share this great game I love so much is the most humbling thing in the world. The game is growing leaps and bounds throughout the country and it is great to see some kids playing lacrosse that are just flat out incredible athletes. The biggest advantage down south, there’s no SNOW! The kids can play year round with no interference from weather and it’s a massive advantage they have over us in the North. The biggest challenge the South faces right now is the lack of coaching experience and knowledge of the game. This is why Rogue is down there trying to assist in every way we can. Rogue does more coaching clinics down South then anywhere else. The parents and coaches involved are incredible people and it’s an honor to work with them to grow the sport.

How do you select the tournaments that the Rogue travel teams participate in?

JP: When it comes to being a “Club” program we are still very young. I do my best to take kids and families to high quality tournaments that are cost effective, well run and competitive. Most of the families in our program aren’t interested in traveling all over the country like we see with some of the larger national clubs like a 3D, or Team 91. They want to stay local have fun and get better. So I do my best to keep things local and take the parents to one away tournament that they can enjoy as much as the kids do. Parents need to have fun too; I mean they are flipping the bill for these young players. They deserve a weekend vacation here and there; it’s about the families and the experience as a whole.

If you could change one rule in the college game, what would it be?

JP: Easy, I would put in a shot clock like the MLL. As soon as the defending goalie saves the ball the shot clock starts (like basketball), that 1 minute or maybe for NCAA 1:30 shot clock, is the time you have to clear the ball, play offense and get a shot off.

Everyone wants to hate on the MLL’s rules because they’re not “traditional.” I tell those people you should try playing the MLL game before you knock its rules. The game is played at lightning fast speed and is an absolute blast to play. A 2-point line wouldn’t be a bad idea to test out at the NCAA level either; it would make things very interesting.

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Gary Govel
Gary has been involved in lacrosse in the Capital District for over 35 years as a player, youth coach, program administrator, parent, and fan. Gary launched in November 2015 to report on lacrosse news and information of interest to the region, and to share his passion for the game. In addition to operating this site and associated social media, Gary is also a contributor to Inside Lacrosse.