Her Space: Straight to the Recruiting Source
An informal survey of college coaches on the recruiting cycle
This column originally appears in the May 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription!
College recruiting is the phase many players anticipate as they grow up in the lacrosse circuit. As a high school coach and recruiting mentor, I always strive to inform myself on the latest recruiting trends so that I may appropriately help families navigate that circuit with certainty and purpose.
So I went straight to the source, conducting an informal survey of NCAA Division I women's coaches, asking a series of questions to whose answers would help me mentor players through this integral process. My experience identified that the concerns of most families were the where, what, who and how of the process, wanting to make sure they left no stone unturned without crossing the respectful boundary between coach and player. This survey sought to define that balance.
Of the coaches surveyed, 40 percent stated that their ideal environment for recruiting a player is in the club tournament setting. Another 38 percent identified camps.
While the first is no surprise, the latter is equally important. Camps provide a unique opportunity to cultivate the player-coach relationship. Camps are "extremely important. It's the only opportunity you have to work with the potential recruit," UConn coach Katie Woods wrote in response to the survey. "You tend to know right away if the player is coachable, if they'll fit with your program/coaching style and if they have game sense or leadership qualities."
The intangibles — attitude, coachability, work ethic, and potential — are difficult to measure in the tournament setting. Camps provide the intimate opportunity for a player to be fully assessed by a coach.
What do college coaches look for in a player?
While those surveyed used different descriptions, they all sought a balance of intangible traits and athletic ability. High Point coach Lyndsey Boswell described her ideal recruit as one that "stands out in any environment on any field, with and against any team... the hard working ones that never give up, the ones that share the ball, but also demand the ball."
Furthermore, coaches look for attitude, what kind of teammate you are, and how hard you're willing to work. "I can teach the game," Boston University coach Liz Robertshaw said, "but I can't teach hustle and attitude."
Notably, no coach mentioned statistics, wins and losses or individual accolades.
Who do coaches trust most in seeking outside assessments of recruits?
Thirty-four percent of respondents noted high school and club coaches, and 27 percent said they rely on trusted sources that have proven credible in the past.
In other words, having a coach that can provide an accurate assessment of you as a player and a person is critical. From this source, college coaches can confirm their assessments, while also learning more about your personality, ability to be coached and potential.
Provide college coaches with appropriate references to give them the most complete picture of you.
How should you as a player or parent approach all of this?
When asked for their advice for players entering the recruiting cycle, overwhelmingly college coaches emphasized that every player should address the process with intentionality and purpose.
"Take your time," Princeton coach Chris Sailer said. "It's not a race to commit first. Focus instead on getting to know yourself and figuring out what's important to you in a college, and then take time to really get to know schools, coaches, teams and programs as well as you can before making your decision."
It's hard to push aside the social pressures to go to that school, accept that scholarship or commit that early. But think of your commitment to a school in the same light as the commitment with which one enters into marriage.
Enter with certainty that the school appreciates and wants you as much as you want it.
Enter with an unwavering resolution that this is the school for you, with no fallback of quitting or transferring.
Enter with confidence that this school speaks to all of your needs — athletically, academically and emotionally.
And most importantly, enter into this commitment knowing this school will ultimately make you a stronger woman, more prepared to succeed and thrive.
Kate Hickman is the girls' lacrosse coach at St. Mary's (Md.), director of Bay Area Lacrosse Club and founder of Balance Lacrosse.
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