The recruiting process can be one of the most exciting yet confusing experiences a student-athlete and their family can go through. It will be an emoitional roller coaster and it can quickly become very expensive. In the details below we have aimed to provide parents and players with informational resources to help them understand and navigate the recruiting process.
One of the most important steps in the recruiting process is asking yourself if you are ready and willing to take on the commitment of playing college lacrosse. Parents: have the conversation with your son to make sure he is interested in playing college lacrosse. It is a very large commitment and reaches far beyond just the social aspect. If lacrosse is more of a social thing and not a full time commitment, save your time and money as it is very unlikely that your son will continue playing through 4 years of college. If your son is incredibly passionate about the sport and is the type of player that never wants to put his stick down, playing college lacrosse can be a very rewarding experience that is worth your time and energy.
After you decide that you are ready to pursue college lacrosse, it is important to develop a list of 50-100 schools that you may be interested in. The larger your list of schools, the more likely it is that you will be able to find a place where you can excel academically, athletically and socially. Ask your coaches about what is a realistic level for you to play at so that you can be smarter in your search. As you will see in the information below, it is very difficult to play at one of the top 15 programs in the country. Most athletes go on to play at the Division 2 or 3 level, which can be just as rewarding and at times is a much more enjoyable experience, so make sure to include these schools in your search. It is also very important that you consider schools that you would be happy at if lacrosse was no longer an option due to an injury or coaching change.
After identifying the schools you may be interested in, collect all the information you can on the school including coaches contact information and any information they may have about camps/prospect days they host. You should also do your homework on the each schools admissions process. If you have a 2.0 GPA and the average acceptance GPA at the school is a 3.5, you may not want to include it on your list. As you prepare, do not assume that a school can make an exception on your academics because you play lacrosse. Younger players: if you are reading this to get a head start, know that grades will really help or hurt you. Take your academics seriously to give yourself the best chance of going to the school of your choice.
Develop your own database, usually an excel sheet, of schools you are interested in and any correspondence you have had with the school. In late April/early May for the summer recruiting period and throughout the fall for the fall recruiting period, you should begin sending coaches a personal email with your athletic and academic resume, a schedule of where they can see you play over the next few months and a highlight tape or film from one of your games, if possible. If you are making a highlight tape, please follw our tips: http://www.team247lax.com/content/recruiting/highlight-tapes
Keep coaches informed. If you sent an email to them before your spring season, follow up in the middle of your season and again at the end of your season. Reach out to them at the beginning of the summer, in the middle of the summer and at the end of the summer. You should be reaching out to coaches before any camps or tournaments you attend to let them know you will be there. Be proactive and don’t just wait for coaches to find you.
Always remember that YOU OWN YOUR OWN RECRUITING PROCESS. It is no one else’s job to get you recruited. It is your job to research schools, camps, academic requirements (SAT/ACT testing dates and core class requirements), etc. It is also your job to reach out to schools expressing your interest and keeping them up to date on your school schedule, tournament schedule or camps you are attending. Your high school and club coaches are valuable resources but have a number of players they are trying to coach and assist. It is not their job to get you recruited. It is your process and something you are responsible for.
Understanding your options
There are a number of options when it comes to playing college lacrosse. Most athletes and fans are familiar with the top division 1 teams like Johns Hopkins, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Notre Dame, etc. However, the reality is that very few players go on to play at those schools. In general, if you are not the most dominant lacrosse player and athlete on the field every time you play, you are not going to play at one of the top 10-15 division 1 programs. Very few players go on to play at these schools and you can usually tell who these players are as soon as you see them on the field.
One of the biggest mistakes that young student-athletes make is saying, “I only want to compete for a high-profile NCAA Division 1 team or I’m not playing.” First, this is not the attitude that any of the kids that will go on to play at that level have. Second, if a high-profile division 1 team doesn’t recruit you, there are still a TON of options for you that may allow you to attain a degree that you may not have been able to get without lacrosse. If you are one of the better players on your school or club team and have good grades, you will likely be able to find a mid-level to low-level division 1 school, a division 2 or a division 3 school. Beyond the programs that have lacrosse at the division 1, 2 or 3 level, there are a number of schools that have programs that compete in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA).
The Recruiting Time Line
In April 2017, the NCAA passed new legislation that prevents college coaches from contacting recruits in any way before September 1st of their junior year. The rule also states that college coaches cannot circumvent these rules by communicating with a club or high school coach. Any communication between an NCAA coach and a club or high school coach about a prospective student athlete could be considered an NCAA recruiting violation. The new rule also states that college coaches cannot accept a phone call or set up an unofficial visit before September 1st of their junior year. College coaches will begin watching prospective student athlete's in the summer leading up to September 1st of their junior year so they are prepared to recruit when the time arrives but they cannot communicate with anyone before September 1st of the players junior year. The new rules have changed the recruiting time table and recruiting by D1, D2 and D3 schools will take place during an athletes junior and senior year.
Should you repeat a grade or consider a post-graduate year?
This is a very personal decision. Will your son have an athletic advantage if he repeats a grade or take a post-graduate year? Yes. Of course. He is a year older and more developed than most of the kids he will now be competing with. However, there are a number of social and financial factors to consider. You also need to consider that repeating a grade or taking a post-graduate year may not drastically change where your son ultimately ends up in the recruiting process.
Suggested Recruiting Camps
Attending individual recruiting camps is another important part of the recruiting process and may help a student-athlete draw attention or interest from schools that may not have seen them play with a club team at a tournament. If a student-athlete is interested in attending a camp that conflicts with a tournament, this should be cleared with their coaching staff. While we would never restrict an athlete from attending an event that may help them, it is best to discuss any conflicts with your coach. Below are a number of recruiting camps we would recommend for interested athletes:
Prospect days are becoming more and more popular in the lacrosse world. A prospect day is usually a 1-2 day camp held on a schools campus. There are many pros and cons to these events. If you are interested in a school, these are a great opportunity to get on campus and play in front of a coaching staff. However, there are a lot of schools that host prospect days and you can waste a lot of money and time by trying to attend every one you are invited to. Here are a few general rules when attending or considering prospect days:
Try not to go to the same school more than once. An entire day or weekend on campus and playing in front of the coaching staff should be enough for them to decide if you are a player they would like to recruit. Remember that if they are “slightly interested” after the prospect day, they will have other opportunities to see you play at camps and tournaments.
Look at prospect days in tiers. If you go to the prospect day for a “top 10 program” and they aren’t even slightly interested, the other 9, “top 10 programs” are not likely to be interested. If a school in the 30-50 range isn’t interested at all, the schools in the top 10 aren’t likely to be interested.
Remember the timeline. Schools are recruiting juniors and seniors. You do not need to attend these prospect days as a freshman unless you are doing it as a learning experience and to get on a coaches radar.
If you are interested in a school and attending their prospect day, email the coaching staff and ask for an invitation or for them to send information. Due to NCAA rules, though these camps can sell out, they cannot be invitation only exclusive events.
Just because you are invited to a schools prospect day by a coach, that does not mean that they are actually interested in recruiting you. They are trying to fill a camp just like any other camp director. Be smart with the camps you are attending and go to those that are realistic and make sense for your goals as a player.
The NCAA strictly limits the number of scholarships that each school can distribute. Each Division 1 lacrosse program has 12.6 scholarships for men and 12 for women. In Division 2 there are 10.8 scholarships for men and 9.9 for women. Unlike football, lacrosse is a NCAA equivalency sport, which means the scholarships can be spread among many players. A fully funded Division 1 lacrosse program has 12.6 scholarships to spread across as roster of about 45 players. Typically, a coach divides the scholarship allotment into several partial scholarships as opposed to giving only a few athletes full scholarships.
It is very difficult and rare for a coach to offer many “full rides.” What also may happen is that an upperclassman may have his or her scholarship amount increased in an effort to retain that player or reward that player for his contributions to the program. A quarter scholarship may be improved to a half scholarship. Which means the “extra” scholarship money has to come from another athlete. Additionally, scholarship money is generally offered to an offensive quarterback, a FO specialist or goalie before midfielders and defenseman.
As a result, thousands of outstanding high school athletes are never offered even partial scholarships. Keep in mind that scholarship awards are on a year-to-year basis. While a coach cannot guarantee you will receive the same award in future years, it is normal practice that it will be renewed at the same level.
Even if you are fortunate enough to get all or some of your tuition paid by an athletic scholarship, you may still have other significant costs like room and board, books, entertainment, and transportation to and from school. Though other forms of financial aid are available, D-III and D-I Ivy League schools do not offer any athletic scholarships. Military academies like Air Force, West Point, Navy, and the Coast Guard are tuition free; however admission requires a congressional recommendation and service requirements.
Useful NCAA Links:
"This site is dedicated to helping you understand the balance between academics and sports required of every student-athlete for a successful life in school and out." http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes