Questions & Answers
Q: Who are the Tidewater Patriots?
A: The Tidewater Patriots are the longest-running boys travel lacrosse program in the region. Established in 2010 as the Peninsula Patriots, the program has continuously conducted summer and fall seasons since its founding.
Q: Why was the name changed?
A: As the program grew in its success and began to attract boys from as far north as Fredericksburg and as far south as the Outer Banks, it was clear that the 'Peninsula' label was not reflective of the true make-up of Patriots teams. The term 'Tidewater' replaced 'Peninsula' in 2019.
Q: Who runs the Patriots?
A: The Patriots were founded, and have always been run by Chris Swanenburg, a former All-Ivy goalie and 1990 graduate of Yale. Prior to establishing the Patriots, Swanenburg coached at the NCAA level for 20 years, which includes 15 years of head coaching experience at both the Division I and III levels. He and his wife, a public school teacher, moved to Hampton Roads in 2005 and raised two children (both now in college) in Newport News.
Q: What makes the Patriots different from most other travel teams?
A: For starters, it's rare to find a travel program led by an individual with so many years of experience -- as a player, as a college coach (with decades of connections) and as a youth coach. Swanenburg handles all day-to-day operations of the program, knows every boy in the Patriots and is 100% accessible to all players' families. Running the Patriots is his primary job.
Q: What else is different?
A: Because the Patriots are NOT owned by a parent organization in another state and are NOT affiliated in any way (directly or indirectly) with any schools or other organizations, decisions are made with the best interest of the Patriots and its teams. Fees can be kept low and there are no 'favorites' in the Patriots.
Q: If you are truly independent, who are your coaches?
A: Patriots teams are led by qualified adults (with some help from college players) who have extensive playing and coaching experience. Most Patriots coaches no longer coach in any of the area programs and NONE are 'Daddy Coaches'. You will NEVER see a father coaching his son and his son's friends in the Patriots.
Q: Is there anything else that makes the Patriots different?
A: The coaching structure. As boys get older, the coaches do NOT move with them. The Patriots believe that part of the learning experience is being exposed to different instructors -- who are given the freedom to put their own touches on their teams.
Q: Does that mean my son may be taught conflicting things from year-to-year?
A: Absolutely NOT. The Patriots are run like a major league baseball franchise. ALL teams are taught the same principles and with the same terminology. Coaches may have their favorite drills or points of emphasis and run slightly different schemes, but they all follow the same methods of teaching fundamental, sound lacrosse.
Q: How is this ensured?
A: When a new coach joins the Patriots, he starts as an assistant, working alongside returning coaches. Coach Swanenburg is also present at almost every practice, helping coach both the youngest teams up through the most elite high school squad. Coach Swanenburg writes every team's practice plans, individually tailoring them for optimal success.
Q: Practice plans? Tell me more about practices.
A: Every practice has a prepared, detailed to the minute, written plan. Practices start on time and never end early. There are more balls than you can count, coaches have whistles and things are organized. Practices are typically fast-paced, very drill-oriented (don't expect to see much scrimmaging) and focused on development.
Q: How often, when and where do Patriots teams practice?
A: Summer season practices for all teams begin in March. Practices are initially held on Sundays only. Once the recreational and high school seasons start to wind down, Saturday practices are added. Youth teams typically practice 12 times, with each session lasting two hours. High school teams typically practice 8 times, with each session lasting two and a half hours. Practices occur in the morning and are held on artificial turf fields at Norfolk Collegiate.
Q: What tournaments do the Patriots attend?
A: The summer season usually involves attending two tournaments during mid to late June. One is usually local. The other typically involves traveling out of the area. Tournaments are selected based off of the level of competition of each team. The goal is to put the boys in a position where they will continue to learn and develop.
Q: What about exposure? My child is very talented and needs to be put in front of college coaches.
A: If you are the parent of a youth player and it is important for your child to go to the 'right' tournaments, the Patriots are NOT for you. No college coach is looking at youth players and none care how good their teams are, or where they go to tournaments. At the high school level, tournament selection becomes more important and events are chosen based off of factors that include potential exposure and the inclusion of game film. That being said, if your son is a good player, he WILL be discovered. Most college coaches are very competitive individuals, paid to win games. If your son is talented enough to play at the college level and has access to some film and the internet, he can get recruited.
Q: I've been told that there are better teams outside of the region and that if I want my son to have the best opportunity to play in college, he needs to play in a different area with different players and/or in a program with access to regional and national teams.
A: That is a myth. Every parent wants the best for their children and has a tendency to see them in an unrealistic light. Some travel programs seize upon that. It is said that the youth travel sports industry is recession-proof because parents are willing to spend money chasing their kids' often unrealistic dreams. By and large, college coaches don't care where they get their players from or what travel teams they play for.
Q: So, where does that leave the Patriots, and what should I ultimately expect for my child?
A: The Tidewater Patriots provide unmatched, college-level instruction in a learning, inclusive environment that does not play favorites. It's a low-cost, drama-free club (toxic families are asked to leave) that doesn't care about 'swag' or winning social media battles. The primary focus is on development, helping boys become the best players they can possibly be -- and that often results in Patriots players being recruited to play in college. Finally, the Patriots are led by an available, knowledgeable, hands-on director who will always provide honest and candid advice and feedback, working to do what's in your son's best interest.
Q: What if I have additional questions?
A: Please feel free to contact Coach Swanenburg at (443) 690-7683 or at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions.
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