We were fortunate to catch up with Jack Sandler, the Head Coach at Colby College and Director of Texas Top 99, which takes place this weekend at the Greenhill School in Addison, Texas.
Entering its 12th year, Texas Top 99 is the premier boys high school recruiting event in Texas, featuring some of the top players in the State. The event is run by an impressive group, which in addition to Coach Sandler includes Notre Dame Assistant Gerry Byrne and Navy Assistant Ryan Wellner.
Below is our Q & A with Coach Sandler, who discusses T99, the importance of hard work during the recruiting process, and the growth of lacrosse in Texas.
What was the genesis of T99?
Now in its 12th year, Texas Top 99 grew from Gerry Byrne’s experience living in Houston while his wife was in medical school. He had run instructional camps in the area starting in 1994 and as he saw the players develop into players with strong college potential he decided it was important to expose college coaches to what he was seeing. I was a recruiter at the first Texas Top 99 in Houston and took on a director’s role five years ago as the event grew from both the recruiter and player side.
What is the mission of the event?
The mission of the event is to both expose college coaches to the top talent in Texas in their own backyard, while also striving to provide services to the participants while we have this high level group of college coaches in Texas. Two examples are, we run clinic sessions during the first day during which the college coaches provide instruction in their expertise across a wide range of topics and each team will go through a college style film session with Coach Byrne on Sunday, plus many more. In 2014 we’ve added the preeminent lacrosse strength and conditioning expert, Jay Dyer, who will run instructional sessions for all the campers in small groups throughout the weekend.
The ratio of players to coaches is unusually strong. Is this intentional?
Very much so. No different than many other parts of the country, Texas student-athletes have a wide range of preferences when it comes to college academic interests, level of play, size and location of school. We do our best to bring representation from that wide range of schools. This year we have recruiters from Division I semifinalists and both Division III National Championship Finalists to first-year programs and top level MCLA programs…quite a group!
Having coached and played the game for a very long time, how far have you seen Texas lacrosse come?
As a college coach who has been to the previous 11 Texas Top 99 events, the level has continued to rise. As you watch the NCAA tournament this year, Texas was a place numerous players were from!
I’ve been particularly impressed with how far it has spread in the state and how many more high schools are sponsoring lacrosse. There is no doubt that every coach in attendance will find at least a handful of student-athletes that will be good fits for their colleges/programs.
What advice would you have for players looking to play at the next level?
Work hard at everything you do! Coaches want student-athletes who strive to be the best at lacrosse but also in school. Also, coaches want student-athletes who want their schools; make sure to let them know how interested you are in their program AND school.
Thanks so much to Coach Sandler for his time! Attendees can click here information on T99 Game Film.
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