Coach Drew Searl instructing before the next set of drills
The primary hot bed for the sport of lacrosse has always been the East Coast. It’s the home of the sport and entwined in the culture. As a result, access to the sport and to high level coaches is easy for young East Coast athletes compared to other regions of the country, like Utah, which is 2000 miles away from the action. EMW was established in February of 2000 by former Syracuse midfielder Drew Searl to change this. One goal remains in mind: Raise the level of lacrosse in Utah. As Drew sees it, it’s time to create a new hot bed for lacrosse, and that place is Utah.
Achieving this starts with filling the coaching void and providing a platform for local Utah players to learn from the best players and coaches in the game without having to travel to other hot beds like the East Coast where this type of exposure primarily exists. The best way to learn anything is to be mentored by the best so the EMW method is simple: Import the highest-level players and coaches within the sport and provide an unprecedented lacrosse experience through structured hourly clinics to multi day lacrosse camps for the benefit of local Utah communities. The strategy is the name, “East Meets West”.
EMW Camp Pics, 2001 & 2016
Jesse Hubbard, Dave Allen and Drew Searl hosting one of the early EMW winter shooting clinics in 2001 at the University if Utah.
EMW founder Drew Searl picked up his first stick in 6th grade thanks to his best friends John Wilkenson and Mike Spiker. It was 1989 in Wilmington Delaware. Shortly after that, Mike’s mother, Carol Spiker, founded a local team the boys could play on called the Westover Wings and joined the Wilmington Lacrosse League. If it wasn’t for Carol Spiker, Drew and the other 4 players from that team who all went on to play Division I lacrosse may have all continued playing baseball.
By spring 1992 Drew was a freshman starting varsity midfield at Wilmington Friends School. His lacrosse future looked bright but things changed quickly when his father lost his job and by the following year Drew was attending Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. A place where lacrosse was non-existent.
In spring of 1993 while driving by the University of Utah after accepting the fact that he’d probably never play lacrosse again, Drew saw a glorious sight: A lacrosse game. It was Utah vs. University of Wyoming. Eager to play, he lied about his age and said he was a University student. After retrieving his lacrosse gear and a check for the team dues at home, he returned to play the second half tallying 1 goal and 1 assist against Wyoming. As a 16-year-old high school sophomore, Drew was now running midfield for of the University of Utah club team under the assumed identity of a college freshman.
In spring of 1995 the Utah Lacrosse Association had formed and hosted the inaugural season of High School Lacrosse in Utah. Drew was the first in line to play for Judge and Coach Dave Allen, a former National Champion from Cortland State. As Judge’s senior Captain (and while simultaneously playing for the University of Utah) Drew lead the Bulldogs to Utah’s first High School Lacrosse State Championship beating Alta 9-7. After the season Drew was honored as the first ever All-State MVP for high school lacrosse in the State of Utah, an honor he cherishes to this day.
College lacrosse coaches did not recruit in the West but despite it all Drew became the first player from Utah to make a NCAA Division I roster by walking on at Syracuse University in the fall of 1995. Drew played 4 years as a midfielder and faced off for the Orangemen. His team appeared in 4 consecutive National Semi-Final games and a National Championship. Drew remains the only player from Utah to make it to NCAA Division I National Championship. He hopes to help change this.
While playing at Syracuse Drew spent summer and winter breaks in Utah coaching camps and clinics around the Salt Lake and Park City areas to grow the game locally. As he saw more athletes in Utah taking up the sport, he recognized the need for more high-level coaches. This ultimately is what prompted the creation of EMW.
After graduating from Syracuse, Drew moved back to Salt Lake and in the year 2000 began his first season as a high school coach at Judge Memorial alongside his former coach and mentor Dave Allen. As a program Judge has been to more State Championships than any other in Utah and in 8 seasons coaching together he and Dave took Judge to 4 Championship games winning 2.
In Drew’s first season at Judge he began hosting clinics with friends who were current pro players for the advantage of his team. Eventually he opened the clinics up to players from all schools as a benefit to the greater lacrosse community and East Meets West was born. All-Pro and National Lacrosse Hall-of-Famers Michael Watson and Jesse Hubbard along with Princeton 2-Time All-American Taylor Simmers were on the regular circuit to help Coach Drew’s clinics. Afterwards they’d all hit the mountain for some hard-core skiing and snowboarding (Drew requires all his coaches to perform as good on the mountain as they do on the field). Since Mike, Jesse and Taylor were all living on the East Coast and not native to Utah and Lacrosse and skiing in the same day was a new concept, the clinics became known as the “East Meets West” clinics. Hence the name.
The first EMW summer camp was in 2001 at Sunnyside Park next to the University of Utah. There were 60 players. The following year in 2002 more than 100 players showed up. Since then over 4000 local Utah players have come through at least one of the EMW camps, clinics or small group programs hosted by Drew. More importantly from the beginning the goal has never changed: Grow lacrosse in Utah.
We teach Lax and we teach life to a special group of young men. In the end as Drew says, “winning here means winning out there”.
Local phenom Walker Bateman (BYU) and former MLL players Pat Dowling (Bayhawaks), Sean McCarthy (Outlaws) and Adam Borcz (Lizards) with Drew Searl in Logan Utah
Originally Published August 18th, 2009, The Salt Lake Tribune
Under the shade of a tree at Sunnyside Park last Wednesday, about 100 high school lacrosse players sat and listened to the Denver Outlaws' Brendan Mundorf, one of the best attackers in Major League Lacrosse.
The players aren't completely new to the sport. They know as much about the sport as anyone from Utah can know about lacrosse, a sport that has historically been a regional one, based in and around New England, New York and mid-Atlantic states.
Seeing the faces of those 100 kids as they watched Mundorf intently is why Drew Searl started the East meets West lacrosse camp. Searl -- who is originally from Delaware and also lived in Utah, where he coached Judge Memorial at the start of club lacrosse at the high school level -- started the camp in 2001. He has seen the popularity as well as the skill level of the players improve every year he has held the event.
"When I coached at Judge, I saw kids that were interested but there wasn't enough coaches to teach them," Searl said. "With the connections I had through my own playing experience, I knew I was able to bring in coaches local kids won't be exposed to in Utah."
At EMW Lacrosse Academy, our best compliment comes from word of mouth and repeat customers. We believe we offer the best lacrosse experience and Utah, but don’t just take our word for it.
“East Meets West is more than just a lacrosse camp. My sons, Porter and Cole, couldn't stop talking about it. Every morning they were up early ready to go and couldn't stop talking about coach Drew and the other coaches. The coaches do a great motivational talk on the final day of camp with a message that was so compelling I emailed Drew afterwards and asked for a copy. As a parent, I thought it was great for life and we wanted to implement it into our family. It was perfect week for our boys and we are thankful to the good men who take the time to put this together!”
“These guys provide such a great LAX camp. Not only did the staff make it skill oriented, they made it FUN and taught life lessons along the way. Easton had the best time and looks forward to the camp next summer. Thanks again for your hard work Drew, we will be back!”
“If you want an amazing camp with top tier coaches and an incredible learning experience then don’t miss Drew Searl’s East Meets West camp. Not only is it the best camp in Utah, it’s one of the best camps anywhere and we’ve done many. My two boys started doing his camps and clinics when they were young and attended every one until they graduated High School. They learned a lot, had lots of fun and made friends for life. My youngest is now playing college lacrosse and we owe so much of it to Drew and the East Meets West experience.”
Tracy and Jeff Allison
“Let me preface this statement by saying I’ve had the pleasure of coaching many great lacrosse camps over the years for many of my friends and have directed many of my own camps, some even in Utah. But in 2014 Drew invited me to coach 2 of his camps and I can honestly say that East Meets West is the best lacrosse camp I’ve ever coached. Period. The program and format he has put together are amazing and the excitement and passion brought to the field everyday made this not only a great a great experience for the players, but an awesome experience as a coach! They teach Lax, but they also teach LIFE. Needless to say I stole a couple pages from this camp’s book. If I could break away from my new career to coach only 1 lacrosse camp a year, this is the one I’d choose. Thanks for letting me be a part of it, Drew!”
Todd Faiella, Captain of 2011 NCAA National Champion UVA Men’s Lacrosse Team