MADISON, NJ—With cleats laced, jerseys on and lacrosse sticks in hand, two dozen teams took the field June 14 at Madison High School for the fifth annual STEPS Jersey Strong Showcase.
At least 130 coaches showed up this year in the blazing heat to see how the freshman, sophomore and junior players fared in each of at least three games scheduled for their respective teams throughout the day, said Shoulberg, who co-directed this year’s event with Matt Kovachik, president of the STEPS New Jersey chapter of U.S. lacrosse.
“We’re fortunate in year five that we’ve had more college coaches on site every single year,” Shoulberg said.
The event “has developed a nice reputation in the college coaching community,” he said. “This is a ‘can’t-miss’ stop on the summer circuit.”
Madison High School’s players participated in the June 14 event, battling it out in three 44-minute games against Ridge High School, Hunterdon Central High School and the Pingry School.
Ian Waresk, who will begin his senior year at Madison in September, seemed to be the standout player against Ridge, scoring the most goals out of any of his teammates.
The Jersey Strong Showcase is a collegiate recruiting showcase held by STEPS Lacrosse, LLC, and is designed to give many of the best high school teams in New Jersey & regional out-of-state teams exposure to college coaches, according to STEPS CEO and event founder Charlie Shoulberg.
The invitation-only event has gained quite a bit of popularity over the past five years.
“We always have 24 teams, but we turn away just about as many” each year, he said.
This year was the first year an out-of-state team was invited, Shoulberg said of the Pennsylvania-based Malvern Preparatory School.
Shoulberg said he hopes other out-of-state teams in the region will be invited in future years, but plans to keep the cap at 24 teams.
Recruiters are on the lookout for great players, Shoulberg said, but skill is not all these players need to be seriously considered for college teams.
“They’re looking for kids with athleticism and work ethic, but first and foremost is grades,” he said. “You have be a good student to be a good student athlete.”
Each recruiter received a binder with players’ information, which included their GPA, upon arrival.
STEPS chose Madison High School as its annual location because the campus has a number of “centrally located” turf and grass fields and draws quite the crowd, according to Shoulberg.
“Everything about the facility is great,” he said. “It’s top-notch. People love coming here.”
STEPS Lacrosse, LLC is a sports management company that specializes in elite travel teams, tournaments, showcases, summer camps and training programs.