HOW TO GET RECRUITED FOR COLLEGE LACROSSE FINDING THE “RIGHT FIT”
Making the decision to pursue your lacrosse career in college is something almost every high school player ponders. Some decide early on that playing in college is a goal and they develop a plan to make this dream a reality. Other players may blossom late in their high school career and decide last minute to make the jump to the next level. Regardless of when the decision is made, it’s essential that if you decide you want to be recruited for college lacrosse, you must plan for the process accordingly.
A LENGTHY PROCESS
The lacrosse recruiting process can be long, frustrating, and expensive. To maximize your opportunity to play lacrosse in college you need to establish a game plan with your parents, coaches, and possibly your school’s academic advisors to find the ‘right fit’ for you.
Remember this important fact; lacrosse can be a great vehicle to help get you into college. However, it’s only a sport. The ultimate goal for any student-athlete is to graduate with a degree and launch a career in a field of their choosing. The beauty of lacrosse is that it teaches college athletes some invaluable life lessons they can carry with them into their professional lives, but it’s not the sole reason why high schoolers should attend college. Commitment, teamwork, and sacrifice are just a few of the values they will take into their adult lives.
Also, remember it is never too late to be recruited by the school of your choice. Things constantly change as early recruits may reverse their commitment decisions from schools, players transfer to other schools that open up roster slots, high school seniors fail to meet academic requirements which send coaches scrambling to fill those slots, and some players are just late bloomers.
Therefore, no matter what your situation is, it all starts with developing a plan and sticking to it. The following is an outline of the things you need to consider and actions to take to maximize your recruiting experience and play lacrosse at the next level.
ESTABLISH A REALISTIC PLAN FOR PLAYING LACROSSE IN COLLEGE
No matter who you are, or how great of a player you’ve been in your youth and high school career, you will need to be honest and realistic about finding your ideal fit in a college.
Set your expectations early. By establishing your criteria for the ‘right fit’ you can save yourself a lot of time and energy (and maybe even $$) by carefully establishing a framework for playing in college.
Lacrosse can be a vehicle that helps you get into a school that you normally may not have been admitted to. While that’s okay, it can become very difficult to balance your time on the field with your time studying for classes.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR BEING RECRUITED?
Are you looking for a university that allows you to compete and play as a freshman?
Have you considered options from some of the prestigious Division III schools where the quality of lacrosse is outstanding and the schools are renowned for their academic reputation? Maybe you would like to play in college but have determined you desire a more balanced college experience, so playing MCLA Club Lacrosse is an option too.
Remember: Playing at the D1 level is great but the overall experience matters even more!
Finally, can I (or my family) afford to attend the college I choose or will I need to consider student loans? The financial ramifications are a serious element of your college choice.
The good news is, there are hundreds of colleges and universities that present options for players to continue their lacrosse career. Finding a good collegiate environment can be a rewarding experience that will develop life skills and build friendships that last forever. Furthermore, when you do find your ideal school, it is important to be proactive and go after what you want!
FINDING “YOUR RIGHT FIT” IN A COLLEGE LACROSSE PROGRAM
Establishing a framework for finding the right collegiate lacrosse team takes time and a realistic assessment of your desired experience. You will need input from a variety of sources and be prepared to do some research in order to find all of the requirements needed for your school of choice.
ACADEMICS VS LACROSSE
What are your career aspirations? Do you know what you would like to do after college? Most high school students are not 100% sure. Of course, there are kids who believe they know exactly what they want to do when they grow up. That’s great for them and helps narrow the focus on colleges to those that offer the majors and career paths that they want.
For others, once they are exposed to the buffet of opportunities offered by college, they quickly change their mind. Pivoting majors isn’t just a reality, it’s an inevitability. The best way to prepare is by not focusing on going to a school that has a laser-specific focus. Instead, go to one where you truly enjoy the overall environment.
The point is – the first piece of your recruiting framework is making smart decisions about what you are looking for in your academic experience in college.
This will force you to answer questions like:
What is the degree or major you would like to pursue?
Do you have the grades and test scores for this school?
Can I balance playing with pursuing this major or will it be too much at top university?
Education is the main reason to go to college, not just to play the sport, so if I am injured or decide not to play, is this a school I still want to attend and graduate from?
Lacrosse is unlike other sports where college represents a path to a Professional career. Sure, there are options for professional lacrosse, but only the best-of-the-best make it. And most Professional lacrosse players still have day time jobs. If this is not a possibility for me, what is?
How will my university assist me in my career placement? How active and connected is the alumni, especially creating professional connections with alumni lacrosse players?
So sit down with your family, coaches, and academic advisors to make a list of schools that meet your academic and financial goals. Narrowing your focus on schools that meet these initial criteria will help streamline the process for you so you can invest your time and energy on schools you can honestly attend – and play lacrosse.
Another big decision in your recruiting framework is determining where you want to attend college. On the surface, this seems like an easy decision but there are multiple factors to consider.
What part of the country do you want to spend your four years at college? If you’ve grown up on the west coast are you prepared to go to the east coast; especially as it pertains to weather, cost, culture?
There are four actual seasons compared to the west coast where it is nice all year round. Are you prepared to play in weather that’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced?
Consider how far you would want to be from your home and family. If you’re back east and consumed with school and lacrosse you really can’t just jump in your car (if you have one) and get home for a weekend to have a good meal, see your family, and get your clothes washed!
Also, the opposite plays out, too. I’m guessing your family has been to most if not all your games. If you are away at college, they won’t be there in the stands cheering you on. Are you ready, willing and able to be on your own?
College is the time period when you really start learning how to care for yourself, but there’s an adjustment period. If you’ve moved too far away from home, it can be a struggle.
What setting works best for you in college? Are you interesting in being in or near a big city? Or maybe you might like your school to be in a smaller town or even a rural town?
Understanding what you want is key. These decisions will have a big impact on your college experience.
SIZE OF YOUR COLLEGE
Are you interested in a big university with a major college football program? Saturdays at these universities are amazing. Is this part of the college experience you’re looking for?
Or are you interested in a smaller school with several thousand students as opposed to tens of thousands of students? There’s no right or wrong answer. It is really just a question of what you want to experience in college.
Size also matters in the class sizes you will attend. They can vary from large lecture halls with hundreds of students in a class to small settings with just a dozen kids in class. For some students larger class sizes can be a very difficult learning environment.
Whereas smaller schools have smaller classes and the professors are able to create a more one-on-one learning environment which may be more appealing to some student-athletes.
This is an important consideration for you to think about during the lacrosse recruiting process.
OVERALL COLLEGE EXPERIENCE
College is more than just lacrosse and classes. Aside from academics and lacrosse, you need to consider other elements of the overall college experience. College is a great time to explore new experiences and broaden your personal horizons.
Does joining a fraternity sound like something that you really want to do? Fraternities play a major role in the social fabric of many universities. The Greek System, as it’s known, can be a wonderful way to meet friends and establish lifelong relationships. However, it may be very difficult to be in a fraternity and balance the demands of Division 1 lacrosse.
The time demand of lacrosse, academics, and a fraternity could prove to be too much for a student-athlete. You should talk to the head coach to see if he would even allow one of his players being in a fraternity and play lacrosse.
College football, whether at a big university or even a small school, can be a big part of the school culture. It can range from having ESPN Gameday on your campus to a regional rivalry that is over 100 years old in small New England towns.
Either way, this can be a big part of the social fabric of your school. Students and alumni really enjoy tailgating at these games, and it’s an anticipatory weekly ritual. You need to consider how important this is to you and whether you want this part of your college experience.
In the final analysis, you need to ask yourself, ‘is this a school I really want to attend?’ A very tough question to ask yourself is ‘if I got hurt and couldn’t play lacrosse, would I still want to be at this school? Ask yourself this question and you may find out how important this school is to you.
WHERE CAN I REALISTICALLY PLAY?
This can be a very sobering question. We all like to think we are the best and can play at the top levels in college lacrosse. Honestly, you really need to have a candid conversation with your coaches about what level of college lacrosse you can realistically play at.
The best way to find out what level of lacrosse you can play is by talking to your coaches. They will help you in the whole recruitment process to get you to the best possible fit for you. See how your club and high school teams compare to others in your area and nationally as well. Ask yourself, do I stand out on my team as a top player?
You need to understand that Division 1 is a full-time job on top of your academic requirements. Are you able to play at this level and balance the academic demands? If this is this something you really want, it could mean missing school activities and other social events that are integral parts of the college experience. Are you ready for that sacrifice?
FRAMEWORK FOR SUCCESS
So when you build a framework for schools to consider for college lacrosse you need to think about a variety of issues in order to balance the academic demands, social life experience, finally the quality of lacrosse you can play.
So make a plan that focuses on schools by thinking about the following criteria:
Separate schools by top choices (3), middle choices (5), and contingencies (5) based on your ability to play and meet the academic requirements.
Do research on team, roster, opponents, facilities, and region of the country.
Begin reaching out to each and every coach of those teams
Look for other players on the team that are from your area and reach out to them as well
Attend prospect camps for specific schools of interest
Make a highlight tape to send to college coaches
Let coaches know where you will be playing in upcoming events so they can watch you play in person
Make a plan. You need to consider how can to use your lacrosse abilities to gain admission into the highest-level college or university that otherwise is out of reach to you based on academics alone. We understand that this can be a lot of work, but the next four years (and possibly the rest of your life) could be affected by it! Be diligent and deliberate.
You must take the initiative and you must own the process. It is not your parents “job” to get you into college –if it is not important to you where you go, then why should they do the work on your behalf?
Be responsible and accountable for your recruiting experience. You need to be proactive and market your skills for college recruiters.
It all starts with academics – get it done in the classroom. Academic success is the greatest contributor to recruiting and greatly improves your chances of being attending a school of your choice.
Playing lacrosse in college can be an amazing experience. The lessons learned and friendships developed can last a lifetime.