"Off the Field" with Marc Riccio, CEO at USA Lacrosse
Relating to Marc
Relatable is an understatement when it comes to meeting Marc Riccio. He’s a western New York kid from a small town in the Finger Lakes region, who didn't come from money, who looks up to his mom for her work ethic and resilience, and enjoys snowboarding with his daughter. He’s the guy that says his wife is his secret weapon because he got to experience her professional prowess and leadership while they were working from home in 2020. He may call himself "just a dad,” but we know that he’s much more.
I think the most important lesson Triad Athletes learned was that Marc Riccio knows what’s happening in the industry at large, youth sports and he’s a thought-provoking leader who is a “product of the mission.”Why Lacrosse
Our initial question, because we believe it to be the most important, was “Why lacrosse?"
Marc could have continued his career with KlarisIP or focused on his many other growth opportunities in other sports or markets. For him, lacrosse was a combination of everything he had done that came to that point. In a very unbelievable way, Marc considers himself a "product of the mission of USA Lacrosse". Marc said, "Cliche or not, lacrosse gave me opportunities to go to school and potentially opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise had."
For example, he played at Hofstra, and since they are the home of the New York Jets training facility, he was able to get a job at the Jets that lasted over 17 years. His world would not have been the same and was formed because of lacrosse.
“My world changed because of the game.”
Because he was generally passionate about youth sports, Marc was getting to the point of his career where he could afford to look at opportunities that fulfill and focus on 3 things:
"Heart, Head, Wallet.”
Heart: You want to be emotionally invested.
Head: You want to be intellectually stimulated.
Wallet: Your financial goals need to be met.
The USA Lacrosse position opened and it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. And we understand! Plus, it matched with the skill sets that Marc has gained over the course of his career: Philanthropy, Commercial Sponsorship, Advertising, Professional Sports, Olympic Sports, Leading Organization, Fundraising, Youth Sports, and Legal experience.
Women's Lacrosse: Style and Quality of Play is Tremendous
The first time Marc saw a women’s lacrosse game was in college. Now his high school (Canandaigua Academy in New York) is a highly merited Section V team, but in the early 90's, they didn't even have women's lacrosse.
The name may have been the same, but the game was so different than mens. But no matter the time, we agree that "the games' style-of-play and quality is tremendous to watch."
What makes a good team
Marc was able to watch coaches like Bill Parcels at the New York Jets bring in veteran players that would bring a culture of accountability into the locker room, and he knew that was more essential than another star player on the team.
What that means, as a coach, and as a leader, is you don’t build a team by bringing in all the same types of people or players. Everyone brings something new to the table: “Diverse mindset in how you build a team, matters.” All of those culture and personality traits matter because, “chemistry beats strategy every time.”
What advice would you give an athlete to reduce stress and feel they need to do and be everywhere to make an impact?
Triad Athletes asked Marc Riccio to explain how to deal with the stress of being everywhere all the time, while also wanting to play other sports and having other interests outside of lacrosse.
"It’s a youth sports problem. It’s actually an adult problem. The proverbial FOMO get us every time."
Living through his high school daughter who is a competitive dancer, and being the parent of a college baseball player, and now in his role as CEO of USA Lacrosse, his advice is:
“You do not need to be everywhere.”
There are few elements of the recruiting process that Marc notes are important: Develop relationship with the University and the coaches of the schools that you are most interested in.
Marc isn’t saying don’t go to these events if you enjoy the competition, are having fun, love the camaraderie and your family has the means to attend. But, if parents and athletes could take away anything, it's that attending every event will not get the attention of the coaches when there are hundreds of athletes trying to differentiate themselves. "The better thing to do is to establish a relationship with those coaches."
“No college lacrosse player got their scholarship when they were 12 years old.
Student Athletes have a great story
Student athletes have a unique perspective when it comes to their priorities in college and afterwards. Many athletes may think, “Can I play post college?” “What can I do with my sport after college?” All great aspirations, but for those athletes that don’t know what’s next, they need to start thinking about how they got into college in the first place. Relationships. You have to establish relationships with coaches, athletes, parents and community leaders to get into college, so that same mindset can relate to the post-collegiate experience.
It’s more important when you come out of college to use those relationships. Once you make those connections: Maintain and Keep them. Marc rightfully highlights, “Student athletes have a great story.” You have managed the commitments of being a student athlete, work with teams, prioritize, compete, win, lose and most employers welcome those skills. Connecting what you learn as a student athlete to the potential employer or job.
Marc notes, "Connect your story to why that has value to the job you’re going after. More times than not, you can make those connections authentically and tell a compelling story."
Be an Expert at something
Have focus. That matters no matter where or what you’re doing in your career. Don’t tell employers you can do anything, just like you wouldn’t tell your coach you want to play every position. You need focus and expertise.
Obviously being an expert is all relative to age and experience.
Thank You, Marc!
About USA Lacrosse
USA Lacrosse unites the community of players, coaches, officials, parents, and program leaders. Working together, we inspire participation, enrich the athlete experience, and support the growth of the sport.