HARRISON, N.J. – Paul Houck woke up Sunday morning expecting a typical weekend day.
Play a little lacrosse. Lunch. More lacrosse. Dinner. Homework. TV. Sleep.
Same old, same old, right?
Not so fast.
The sophomore from Saucon Valley (Hellertown, Pa.) got his Sunday plans switched around after being the final high school lacrosse player selected to attend professional lacrosse player Paul Rabil’s unique shooting clinic called “Under My Wing.”
Instead of destination home, it was destination Red Bull Arena on Sunday night where Houck and nine other rising prospects joined Rabil in a three-hour teaching clinic.
When the night was over, Rabil selected one of the participants to be under his wing to mentor through phone, text and email conversations the rest of the school year.
On Monday afternoon, Houck found out he was the winner.
“Wow, what an amazing last 24 hours,” he said. “I didn’t expect any of this when I woke up (Sunday). It is pretty awesome. I can’t ask for a better mentor.”
Face of lacrosse
For those who don’t know, Rabil is lacrosse’s biggest star. He is the LeBron James of the sport and has a resume that stacks up to some of the best athletes in the world.
Check the trophy case.
While at John Hopkins University he was a four-time USILA All-American and a two-time NCAA Division-1 champion. At the pro level, he plays for the Boston Cannons of the MLL and the Washington Stealth of the NLL. On his mantle are two MLL MVP awards and a championship title in both the NLL and the MLL.
“He is obviously one of the best in the world,” said Cold Spring Harbor senior and Warrior 40 alum Daniel Simonetti. “So getting to learn from him is pretty special.”
Rabil said he didn’t hesitate to headline this event when the idea first came to fruition.
In fact, he wishes he could’ve participated in a similar clinic when he was a prep player.
“I watched a ton of film when I was their age,” Rabil said. “For these guys, I get to come out and I get to walk these guys through what I do. That’s what makes it so unique.”
Eight of the tri-state area’s best high school lacrosse players were pre-selected to join the event, and the last two spots were earned at the weekend’s F4 Combine by the upper classman and underclassman that had the fastest clocked shot.
Senior Vail Urso at 101 mph and Houck at 96 mph won the competitions, respectively.
“It’s awesome to come out here and not only learn from a guy like Paul, but also get to see some of the best players our age,” Houck said. “Some of these guys are committed (to college) so it’s great to get to see them and learn from them.”
Rabil was the guest of honor, but the student athletes who attended the event were the VIP guests.
“To have Red Bull Arena all to ourselves is pretty special, pretty unique,” Rabil said. “I could tell from the start that they were very excited and very enthusiastic. They were very respectful and humble to be out here.”
Once the clinic began, it was clear from the get-go that it was Rabil’s show. Once he picked up a stick all eyes and ears were on him.
They first worked on passing and stick skills. Because there were on odd number of students, one player was paired with Rabil.
Urso was the lucky one.
“It was a little intimidating at first,” he said. “But once we got going it went better and better. I was pretty lucky to get be paired with him because I feel like I learned more.”
For the next 45 minutes they worked on shooting skills in drills called the Static Shot and the Running Shot.
One-by-one they whipped the ball towards the net as Rabil shouted out encouragement and direction.
“I thought it was awesome to be on the field with him,” Manhasset (Manhasset, N.Y.) junior Bobby Young said. “Paul was great, and I got a ton of insight from him. He had so much knowledge.”
After the clinic, Rabil didn’t stop teaching. They each got a chance to watch film and analyze their shots with the use of Oakley’s Red Camera – the world’s most precise digital camera made to look like film.
“It was so precise,” Houck said. “You could see the stick bend and even see my facial expressions in slow motion. It was cool because (Rabil) could see exactly what I was doing wrong and right.”
A big reason why Rabil chose Houck to be under his wing is he wants to help him though his recruiting process.
“He has a few years to go before the heavy recruiting process,” Rabil said. “I would like to be a guide for him through that process.”
Houck, who hasn’t seriously looked into college choices yet, gladly will accept any help.
He plans on picking Rabil’s brain as much as possible.
“I’m going to take advantage of every workout and every drill he teaches me,” Houck said. “I get a year. I have to get the most out of.”
Rabil knows he and Houck will make a good team.
“I have coached him at camps before and I think he is a good guy to have in my pipeline,” he said. “I want to have a positive effect for him.”
In a quick 24 hours, Rabil already has.
“Awesome,” Houck said. “Just a really awesome last day.”
Participants in the event
Daniel Simonetti, Cold Spring Harbor (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.), Senior
John Longordo, Bridgewater-Raritan (Bridgewater, N.J.), Senior
Daniel O'Connell, Chaminade, (Mineola, N.Y.), Senior
Vail Urso, Garnet Valley (Glen Mills, Pa.), Senior
Lucas Clay, Garden City, (Garden City, N.Y.), Junior
Bobby Young, Manhasset (Manhasset, N.Y.), Junior
Liam Young, Manhasset (Manhasset, N.Y.), Junior
Austin Williams, Delbarton (Morristown, N.J.), Junior
Tanner Barbieri, St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.), Sophomore
Paul Houck, Saucon Valley (Hellertown, Pa.), Sophomore