|Recruiting Guide I: Introduction & Guiding Principles|
By Bill Allen, LaxPower.com|
LaxPower has been covering college lacrosse recruiting for over 10 years, and each year pundits, parents, and players bemoan the fact that recruiting is becoming more intense and occurring earlier and earlier. One club in New York state actually reported that a player had just made a verbal commitment to a major Division I program ... but you might have to wait for the official announcement, as the player is in the sixth grade.
In the 2000-2001 season, LaxPower listed 514 women's lacrosse recruits. Ten years later, there were 3,183 players listed, a six-fold increase. The only thing that has increased faster is the number of recruiting web sites, services, and consultants. It's not that they lack value, but before you invest in four years of highlight films, LaxPower has researched the best recruiting guidance, free tools, and sites that we have found on the web to give both parents and players perspective and a reasonable starting point for what can be an enjoyable rather than frustrating and stress-filled process.
One other thing we have noticed over the years is that, in many instances, the number of incoming freshmen in the recruit class is cut in half or more by the time they become seniors. This attrition is caused by a number of factors: lack of playing time; coaching changes; athletic, social or academic incompatibility; lack of commitment by either the school or the player; or any of a hundred other reasons. Just know it happens, and hopefully better preparation may mitigate it.
Before we get started, there are a few guiding principles that are applicable to any recruiting situation:
• Players – and their parents! – need to be realistic about their ability to make the team and play competitively at the school(s) of interest. This is the usually the hardest part, as we all tend to overestimate our abilities ... and parents are often worse in this regard. Perhaps using guidance from others, such as a high school or club coach, may eliminate schools where your chances of playing are slim or none.
Do Your Homework!
The information and links below should help. There is a school and a lacrosse program for anyone who wants one. It just takes a little effort on your part to find the right match.
It's important to develop relationships with as many coaches as you can. College coaches belong to a small fraternity, and many are good friends. On occasion, they even share information about top athletes and assist each other with recruiting (assuming they are not rivals in the same conference). Few college coaches can recruit every outstanding athlete they see. If a desirable athlete's grades don't meet the school's requirements or if the athlete plays a specific position and the team is already stocked there, the coach may recommend the athlete to other coaches he or she knows. Coaching contacts may be obtained from the USILA, IWLCA, and other major web sites. You can also use our Links section and find coaches' contact information at most team web sites.
It is important to be honest with both yourself and the coaches. If you are not completely comfortable with a school or a situation, that may be the best indicator that the school is not the right choice for you, so don't get pressured into making a premature decision. By the same token, “no” is the second best response that a coach can get from a recruit. Although they may be disappointed, they now know where you stand and can move on to their next best prospect.
The Bottom Line
The only true test of the decision is if the player can say, “if the coach leaves or if I cannot play lacrosse any longer, is this still the school I want to attend?” You could become injured and unable to play, get cut from the team, or even lose interest because of other priorities in college. Should that happen, would this still be the school you want to attend for four years? If your answer is not a fairly emphatic “yes,” perhaps you should be looking elsewhere.
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