During the spring of 2010, Julie was the head coach at Haverford College when a parent of a local township team put together a small summer tournament team and asked Julie to coach. At the time, Julie was pregnant with her second child (Sydney) and due in early August. At this point, Julie had coached Josie for two seasons at Haverford and knew Josie was an extremely passionate and competitive player who had a great understanding of the game. Knowing that Josie was living on campus for the summer, Julie asked her if she would be interested in coaching the team and Josie agreed. Julie received so much positive feedback at the end of the season about the quality of instruction the team received and how well the girls connected with Josie. When this local summer team dissolved in the fall, Josie and Julie decided to start a competitive club team.
From Julie’s Perspective
Youth and travel lacrosse club teams did not exist when I grew up. My first experience playing lacrosse was in 7th grade at my middle school and my first opportunity to play on a travel team was in 11th grade. Instead, I grew up playing competitive travel soccer where I trained year round. I had an excellent technical and tactical club soccer coach. It was this experience where I believe I truly developed as an athlete. I was challenged to improve my skill level, to raise my soccer IQ knowledge and to become mentally tougher as I was being pushed outside my comfort zone. Thus, one of my reasons to begin Blast was to replicate the experience I had growing up.
From Josie’s Perspective
I didn’t grow up with lacrosse because there weren’t any local township or clubs in my immediate area. I tried out for the high school team in 9th grade and absolutely loved it from the first practice. Unfortunately my high school program was not strong, so I decided to play for a summer club based in my region to develop my skills. I had both positive and negative experiences with my two summers at the club. My coach was incredible and taught me everything I knew before playing in college. I also built relationships with my teammates and formed friendships that lasted through college and have still continued on to now. Conversely, I felt disconnected from the other coaches and players in the club, even ones who were my age but on different teams. I also felt nervous at practice because I felt behind in my development and the coaches didn’t take the time to break down concepts in an understandable way for me. I was nervous to ask questions in that environment and as a result, played within my comfort zone. Looking back, I was completely uneducated about the recruiting process and was simply lucky to have ended up at school like Haverford and to have been coached by Julie.
These experiences with lacrosse greatly shaped what I want for Blast and our players: I want players to join our club who are physically and mentally tough, but understand that it takes more than athleticism to be a well-rounded lacrosse player; I want our players to not only develop relationships with their teammates and coaches, but also with players and coaches from other teams; I want our coaches to take the time to explain technical and strategic concepts thoroughly so that every player understands the how and why of what we’re teaching; I want our players to be able to ask questions and feel comfortable taking risks; and I want Blast players to be fully educated on the recruiting process and understand what it will take to play at the next level.
Together, we’re excited that we now have the opportunity to replicate and also improve upon the experiences we have both had with club sports. Philly Blast’s mission, goals and future direction reflect the qualities of a club program we believe will develop our players to reach their full potential.
Philly Blast’s Growth
Year 1 – Summer 2011
- Julie & Josie coached one team of 15 players (5th-7th grade)
- Julie moved from Haverford College to become the first full-time head coach at Villanova University
Year 2 – Fall 2011 & Summer 2012
- 100 players attend fall tryouts
- 4 teams compete over the summer
Year 3 – Fall 2012 & Summer 2013
- 200 players attend fall tryouts
- 8 teams compete over the summer
- Josie joins Villanova coaching staff with Julie
Year 4 – Fall 2013 & Summer 2014
- Josie accepts head coaching position at The Episcopal Academy
- 9 teams compete over the summer
- Class of 2016 becomes recruitable
Year 5 – Fall 2014 & Summer 2015
- 13 teams compete, Class of 2016-2022
Since Summer 2015, we have consistently had over 400 players try out annually and have had between 12-13 teams compete every year (1-2 teams per age group, rising 5th through rising 12th grade).