Part One (Sept. 2008) Free Fall? | Peer Review: Shannon
Part Two (Oct. 2008): Passport to Campus | Peer Review: Gordie Wells
Part Three (Nov. 2008): Too Vested in Verbals? | Peer Review: Lily Ricci
Part Four (Dec. 2008): Piece of the Pie | Peer Review: Ilyssa Meyer
Part Five (Feb. 2009): Best Foot Forward
Part Six (March 2009): Camp Stories | Peer Review: What Camp Best Fits Me?
Part Seven (April 2009): Be True to Your School?
Part Eight (May 2009): Transfer of Power | Peer Review: Q&A with an Early Commit
Part Nine (October 2009): Are You the Diamond in the Rough? | Think D-III
Part Ten (November 2009): Me Time | Peer Review: Kayleigh Hynes
Recruiting is a topic on which families, prospects, coaches and others expend considerable resources, time and emotion. Lacrosse Magazine will delve into many of the sub-topics involved in a series of articles, augmented by personal stories from young men and women that have recently completed or are in the midst of the recruiting process.
Part Nine of the series provides tips specific to current high school seniors and juniors who might need to rethink their goals. This article appears in the October issue of LM. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to start your monthly subscription.
Recruiting U: Are You the Diamond in the Rough?
by Brian Delaney | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online
If Sept. 1 of your junior year didn't bring the deluge of calls
or letters from major college coaches you expected or hoped for,
it's time to take a deep breath, regroup and strategize.
If there's one piece of advice all coaches and players seem to suggest, it's you should be relentless in pitching yourself as a prospective recruit. Here are a few tips culled from active players and coaches on how to find the best match for you:
Tips for Seniors
1. Reassess your skills.
It's never easy to admit, but consider the possibility that you aimed too high. Go to an honest source for an evaluation of your game - club coach, varsity coach, opposing coach from your league. If you're a Division I-caliber player, chances are you've been seen, said Providence men's coach Chris Burdick.
"If you're out and you're on a club team going to Top 205 and other camps, you're being seen," he said. "We don't miss many guys as college lacrosse coaches."
2. Develop a plan.
At this stage, you should have a firm grasp on what division you
can expect to play in. If you don't already have a core list of
schools, construct one immediately based on a combination of
academics, tuition and athletics that appear to match your
interests. If you haven't already, be prepared to send a package to
each coaching staff that pitches yourself as a prospective recruit.
A game film and highlight film will help immensely, as will
follow-up phone calls and personal e-mails. Think of yourself at
this stage as an aggressive salesperson.
3. Get moving.
Think back on the last year of the recruiting process. Have you done everything possible to sell yourself to the programs you're interested in? Have you started proactive, stayed proactive, finished proactive? If the answer is not a definitive yes, it's time to kick it up a notch.
"It's all a communication thing," said Matt Wheeler, owner/operator of lacrosserecruits.com. "Have the courage to call the coach, e-mail the coach. You can't show up and hope it happens. (Men's assistant coach) Gerry Byrne at Notre Dame, says it all the time: you have to be relentless."
4. Stay positive.
Whittier's leading scorer last year, Ana Garcia, took a circuitous route to the Poets' program.
Whittier was her top choice out of high school, but she enrolled at Colorado State to play WDIA club ball. It didn't work out, but she didn't lose faith. She transferred to Whittier and couldn't be happier.
"I would say, ‘Don't give up. It's not too late,'" she said. "Coaches are always willing and able to talk to people who have talent. They're willing to watch film. It's never too late. I remember I was completely stressed out. I didn't know what to do and I wanted someone to make the decision for me... You really have to push yourself."
5. Consider all options - including junior college.
There's overwhelming pressure to attend a four-year institution immediately. It doesn't have to be that way. One year spent at a junior college with a lacrosse program can pay major dividends in several ways, from financial to academics to athletics. In the past, it has served as a springboard for many student-athletes who were strapped with difficult decisions during their senior years of high school.
Tips for Juniors
1. Understand the NCAA guidelines.
The NCAA rulebook on recruiting regulations can be found at NCAA.com. Learn them. Understanding the process is critical to understanding where you stand during junior year. Know when the signing periods are, when coaches can contact you, and how you can best utilize official and unofficial visits.
2. Personalize your communications.
When contacting coaching staffs via e-mail, be sure to personalize your message. Coaches will value your inquiry more if they're not one of multiple coaching staffs copied on the e-mail. Individual phone calls are even better.
"The first thing that always catches my eye is an e-mail, but the best thing for me is a phone call," Whittier women's coach Emily Hammer said. "The only difference between an e-mail and a phone call is if I can see if it's a bulk e-mail or if it's a genuine ‘This girl sat down and e-mailed me personally.' I know then there's more of a genuine interest."
3. Explore specific school camps.
Do you have a short list of schools/programs in mind? Then inquire with those coaching staffs about their own summer camps, and try to attend at least one. Several coaches and players say it's the best way to get evaluated, and offered. Apart from your skill set being seen, you'll get an idea of how things are run at that particular school. Not to mention the team's current players typically serve as camp counselors, so you'll meet potential future teammates.
4. Consider a recruiting site.
There's no avoiding it. Getting seen is going to cost money, be it through club teams, summer camps or perhaps even hiring someone for the vital component of filming your games. Recruiting sites like lacrosserecruits.com and berecruited.com can provide the structure you may lack to get seen.
5. Don't underestimate Division III.
There's a belief that the gap between Division III and lower Division I lacrosse is narrower than most NCAA sports. Division III coaches remind parents and players all the time - our talent level is high. And they're not lying. Many D-I caliber players end up at D-III schools for a better balance of student versus athlete. From a straight numbers standpoint, there are also many more programs to choose from.
"I can tell you that the level of play at Division III is extremely good," Washington & Lee men's coach Gene McCabe said. "It's exciting, it's athletic, it's very competitive. I wouldn't know how to compare it to the lower half of Division I. We play VMI every year and we've been good enough to beat them most years."
6. Know what coaches want to see.
Don't just send out a highlight tape of your best plays to coaches. That's only part of what they want. Add a full, unedited game film or two to your package so coaches can see how you handle adverse situations throughout the course of the game. For instance, after making a turnover, do you hustle back downfield to play defense? These are the little things coaches have great eyes for, and can make a big difference in your recruitment.
7. Let coaches know where you'll be.
As you're communicating with the schools you're interested in, inform the coaching staffs of your travel plans. If you plan on attending a fall camp or tournament, let them know as far in advance as possible. Stay aggressive.
8. Don't let your grades slip.
Junior year is critical to the college application process, as courses get harder and surrounding pressures increase. Being able to offer a coach, at any level, an attractive profile of academics and athletics will help your cause greatly. Several coaches could not emphasize this point enough.