Ian MacKay and Brad McCulley of the Buffalo Bandits recently pitched in during a practice session featuring some of the top high school talents in Western New York at Performax Lacrosse.
Performax started their lacrosse division in Buffalo in 2012 and has been critical in growing field and box lacrosse in the region.
The program emphasizes the importance of rigorous training, fundamental skills, and knowledge of the game to gain a competitive edge over the competition. Performax prides itself in bringing out the best skill sets of its players through specific drills and techniques used at the collegiate and professional levels.
The Performax PREP organization trains over 250 players from the ages 12 to 18 each year. Due to their state-of-the-art facilities, many college and professional players will also train with Performax throughout the offseason.
Coach Mike Albert explained how Performax also assists their high school players throughout the college recruiting process.
“Each year, we handle the recruiting for over 25 players in Buffalo and beyond,” he said. “Once the Class of 2023 is committed to their schools, we will have over 250 Performax PREP players committed to play college lacrosse.”
This year’s graduating class included six Performax alumni – all from Buffalo – who will join notable lacrosse programs in the fall. Billy Paladino, Nick Yemma, and Will Dunn committed to John Carroll. Andrew Bigelow is attending Johns Hopkins, Walker Popko will be going to Stony Brook University and Ryan Spiesz is headed to Mercyhurst.
“We train and showcase these athletes with the end goal of advancing to the perfect college for them and their families,” Albert said. “As an organization, we try to attract players with high academics, strong work ethic, and commitment to our PX family.”
Not only is Performax dedicated to their players playing at the next level, but they have also paved an avenue to introduce box lacrosse to the program.
The interest level has peaked for Performax PREP athletes over the last few years to aspire to become professional box players, which has grown due to the Bandits’ success this season.
“I think the players found it really motivating to hear from Ian and Brad about their path to playing in the NLL,” Albert said. “The route they took was much different to get to the college and pro ranks was important for them to hear and to understand the amount of work it takes to get to their level of success.”
McCulley and MacKay ran a series of drills that would further develop the IQ of the PREP players on what they need to do offensively and defensively with the ball. These youth practice visits, which are taking place throughout Western New York, are supported by Intense Milk.
Following the end of practice, McCulley was honored to have the opportunity to tell the inspiring players to never give up on their lacrosse dreams.
“It’s just rewarding to be in this position to have the opportunity to go and speak to the next generation of players that have an interest in playing professionally,” McCulley said. “When I was in their position, I remember how exciting it was to have someone you looked up to at your practice, and that’s why it means so much to me because it’s a full-circle moment.”
Albert, who also coaches at Canisius High School, spoke on the importance of continuing to build relationships with the Bandits organization.
“It just always special to have these experiences for our players, and you could tell that they really loved it,” he said.