The sweat, suntan lotion and sweet smell of victory as your child’s club team wins the tournament while 20 or 30 top college coaches watch and then line up after with athletic scholarships ready to hand out. Your star student and super athlete should have no problem securing a top D1 scholarship, right? Well, not exactly. So if you your child is not the star of a top team, or an A student, does that mean there is nothing available? No. There is more than one path to college sports, summer recruiting doesn’t have to be stressful.
The reality is if you want to play college lacrosse, there are many options at many different levels. It’s about finding the right fit for your child. Recruiting and finding a college fit can be so overwhelming on many levels. It’s not easy to decide your future at the age of 16 or younger. Some players know right off the bat(or stick), “Yes, I want to play college lacrosse”. Others that aren’t as sure might find the process even more overwhelming. If you wish to continue your lacrosse career after high school and club, somewhere there is a program that will fit your needs.
As you’re going through the process, here are some things to keep in mind:
- DI vs DII vs DIII – Visit schools at all levels, consider which schools you like the best, and find out if they have lacrosse programs. Identify of list of 10 or so schools to pursue.
- Play in summer club leagues – One of the best ways to get recruited is to play on a club team in the summer tournaments. Some club teams will even pick up extra players for the season. Many college coaches attend these tournaments and you may have the chance to speak to a coach from one of the schools on your list or meet a coach from a school that wasn’t even on your radar.
- Talk to your coaches – Coaching is a community in itself and your coaches can help you network to schools that interest you. Many coaches also have valuable advice that will make the process easier.
- When to contact coaches – NCAA rules state that college coaches may not officially contact you prior to November 15th of your junior year, but contact often begins before then with the potential recruit calling the coach. You may request the coach’s cell number and touch base. Be sure to know what you are going to say…
- What you should say to them – Coaches don’t have a lot of time. Tell them a short sentence or two about you, your position, your school, grades, quick lacrosse background and most of all, tell them about your desire to play for them.
- Make a highlight video – There are services to help you but you can do it yourself too. Check out some great free software editing tools. Coaches need to see you play and they can tell quickly if your skills are a good fit for their team.
- Schedule visits – Visit schools when they are in session. Go anywhere you can. Even if you think it isn’t a school you are interested in, it will give you something to compare to your favorite schools.
- Decide your best fit based on the school not just the program – Keep in mind things can change and you may end up not playing. No one expects anything to go wrong, but there’s always a risk of getting hurt, or changing your mind, so be sure you pick a school you will like even if you don’t play lacrosse.
- What are the pros and cons of playing a college sport – Playing a sport in college means going to bed early so you can get up for practice when your roommates can go out and have fun, it means having good time management skills so you can get your homework finished, it means planning your whole day around practice and lifting and all the extra events. At the end of the day, it also means having a group of friends who have your back, and you part of something special that teaches countless lessons and prepares you for the future. Many college students don’t have the opportunity to experience athletics, and it is a quality that employers often seek. College athletes are hard-working and dedicated, two qualities that can set you apart from other candidates in the eye of potential employers.
- Talking numbers – When you finally do get an offer, you can only make a verbal commit until November 15th or your senior year. The offer or offers you get can be negotiated between the school and the coach if your financial situation doesn’t quite match the offer. You can change your mind at any point, but whether it is during the verbal or formal commit period you should call the coach to discuss. If you have already signed and then change your mind the process is a bit more complex but your first step should always be to contact the coach your are currently committed to. Be professional, polite and gracious.
Remember, there is no perfect path. Find your path and enjoy your journey through college lacrosse.