By Sean Fosse
As is the case with all sports, thousands of high school hopefuls around the country play lacrosse with the dream of one day playing at the next level. The sad truth is that only a small percentage of those players are recruited to fill the increasingly limited spots on college rosters. As someone who made it to the college level by the skin of his teeth, and who has the experience of currently aiding my two younger brothers through the same recruiting process, I’d like to share my five tips to hopefully give young(er) players the extra edge to stand out from the countless others striving for the same goal.
Know Yourself and Your Skill-set
While coaches are always looking for talented players that can do it all, these unicorns are few and far between. However, everyone else has one or two skills at which they excel. Use these skills to your advantage. Showcase them. If you happen to be six feet and four inches tall, and shoot the ball at the speed of sound, first, good for you, and second, let it rip. Show coaches, fans, and other players that you’re the one who will score goals and the one who is not afraid to take shots. If, on the other hand, you like to grind and fight for ground balls, but perhaps are not the most gifted shooter, don’t shoot every chance you get while recruiters are watching. Instead put your nose down, lay body, fight, and scrap for the ball. Show coaches who you are. You may excel at the exact skill-set a coach is searching for, a skill-set that said coach is currently lacking on their roster.
With that said, don’t forget to hone your other skills, or better yet don’t be afraid to attain completely new ones. As much as players are pigeonholed, there are plenty of college coaches that turn one type of lacrosse player into a completely different animal. I played offense my entire life, ever since I was nine years old. After my freshman year of college, I played defense for the rest of my career. Perhaps, I wasn’t as good of a dodger as I thought. It might have helped to have a left hand. Who knows? Either way, in order to continue playing I had to change my game. Staying ahead of this curve, and knowing how to play both sides of the ball, offense and defense, LSM and close D, X attack-man and north/south dodging midfielder, even face offs, will make you that much deeper of a player, grant you more time on the field, and during recruitment, make you that much more attractive to college coaches. So know your skill-set, but don’t lock yourself in a niche. Leave that to the coach after you already have a spot on his team.
It is a fact that college coaches will notice you if you actively show interest in their program. At the very least they will write down your name. At that point you’ve already won the first half of the battle. You’ve stood apart from the others. Actively showing interest can be demonstrated in a few ways. Personally calling coaches and sending them emails are two great ways to open lines of communication and showcase your interest.
When communicating with coaches simply, be yourself. Make sure to put your best foot forward and classify yourself not only as someone interested in the program but as a quality human being. Remember, you are going to be representing the coach’s program for four years. A coach will be more inclined to consider you seriously if he/she believes that you will contribute positively to the program’s reputation, both on and off the field. Speaking from experience, lacrosse teams in particular carry a negative connotation on a lot of college campuses. Some, including administrative officials, think of us as a large, loud, even arrogant, entitled group of jocks. I can’t speak for every player of every team, but for the most part, these claims are exaggerated. So, if a prospective college coach sees a player who is not only talented, but an embodiment of a positive stereotype, instead of the aforementioned negative stereotypes, the coach would be mistaken to pass on a sincere consideration.
Put Yourself on the Map
I mean this figuratively and literally. While communicating with coaches is very helpful it does not demonstrate your abilities as a lacrosse player, which I believe to a lacrosse coach is pretty important. Obviously playing throughout the high school season is an amazing experience, but the exposure is limited, particularly at schools without a national Top 50 ranking. The solution; play summer ball and go to recruiting showcases. Find a local summer team, or a well-known not so local team and try out. If you don’t make the first team, try out for another one. There are endless teams looking for good players and college coaches come to see these teams play. Some of the teams I can think of off the top of my head are Long Island Express, Baltimore Crabs, NESLL Black U19, Top Gun Lax, Madlax Super Select, CT Bulldogs, Duke’s LC, West Coast Stars, and the list goes on and on. There is no shortage of teams all around the nation and therefore no shortage of opportunities to be seen.
However, where exposure is concerned, your best bet is to sign up for recruiting showcases. There are dozens of showcases around the country. New England Top 150, Texas Top 99, Philly Showcase, Maverick Showtime National Recruiting Spotlight, Elite 180, Nike Blue Chip, are only a handful of the camps that college coaches attend each summer. These camps are designed to put you in front of hundreds of coaches.
Now, once you have signed up for these camps, call (or email) the coaches of programs that interest you and let them know exactly where and when you will be playing. Put yourself on their map and give coaches an opportunity to see live, you playing the game you love.
The Ever Infamous Recruit-Me-Video
Sending coaches a well-made, concise video highlighting your abilities on the lacrosse field can be an extremely useful tool in the search for recruitment…when done correctly. It’s an opportunity to give coaches a sense of what you are made of, coaches that might not have been able to catch you at a live recruiting camp. A great highlight tape is a simple highlight tape. It’s a one to two minute long compilation of your best moments ON the field. Put your best clips first; don’t save the best for last. There’s no guarantee that coaches will watch the entire video. In fact they rarely do. So again, I stress the length your video. Coaches will be more inclined to dismiss your video if it’s a thirteen-minute Tarantino wannabe, dedicated to your swim move and sick celebrations.
This brings me to my next point. It should be a clean video. Spotlights, slow motion, your statistics from 7th grade, are all unnecessary fluff. Hire a professional service to construct your clean, fluff-less highlight tape. Coaches will appreciate the simplicity.
And music. Some argue that no music is good music, but I’m a firm believer in the fact that a quality music choice will make the video… just better. We could debate what is considered good music for days. I only beg you to use some adult like judgment in your choice and also choose something without copious curse words. Other than that, go nuts. Use the music to showcase just another part of who you are.
Do Your Homework and Be Smart
Do your research. Remember, while a professional career is a viable option via sports like baseball, basketball, football, and others, it is less of an option in the sport of lacrosse. The sport still has room to grow. So, target programs where the school can support your desired career path. Your parents might tell you that a great career is the entire reason you’re even going to college. They’re not wrong, but the research continues. Find schools that you think you will simply enjoy, institutions of learning where you will have a ton of fun. Of course, every school has its pros and cons, but if you don’t like the snow, don’t go to school in upstate New York.
When tackling this process with my younger brother, I found that a school’s reputation already had an immense influence despite the fact that he had never even visited the school. When we visited Dartmouth, our first stop, the head coach told him something that certainly resonated. He told him to pay his dues and not to commit to any program or place without seeing what other options are available. He was right. Too many kids commit to the first program that offers them a spot. It might not be a place you end up liking or have even been before. Considering every school is different, it pays to visit these places and discover for yourself exactly how the lacrosse program will coincide with the rest of your curriculum and how you respond to the other players currently on the team. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be willing to bet that any program you decide to become a part of, those players will end up being your best friends in the entire world, but sometimes we’d fit better in a different place and there’s no way to know if you don’t see those other places. All of this is part of doing your homework and knowing your options.
However, doing one’s homework goes both ways. Coaches will do their homework on you. Hopefully you already know this but a great way to get scratched from a coach’s list is to have pictures of you chugging beers with your high school friends all over Facebook. While I never drank in high school because underage drinking is illegal (cough), I’m not trying to stop anyone from having fun, but I am warning you about what you post in public places. It says a lot about your caliber. So, if you’re serious about playing college lacrosse, just be careful what you post. Coaches don’t kid around when it comes to social media.
While not the most concise list of tips, I truly hope that these points can provide some guidance to anyone who is starting their recruitment process for college lacrosse. It’s a game I still play and still love, and hope that it continues to grow every day.
When doing research in the recruiting process for my daughter I came across the LRT Sports website. I was immediately intrigued as this was another dimension of the recruiting process that many people don't even consider. My daughter and I could "short list" schools based on the education she was looking for, as well as the opportunity to play her sport. LRT Sports not only gave us pertinent information into the recruiting process with different interviews of coaches and players, it also gave us insight into current and/or former players' opinions on the coach of that school in her sport. We could use this information to re-prioritize my daughters list of schools based on this feedback. I have many friends that are, or will be, going through this process shortly and I highly recommend using LRT Sports as part of anyone's recruiting process.
The college process presents a myriad of challenges. Factor in athletics and it becomes even more daunting. Now, add the fact that you have zero experience with sports. What is a the mother of a college bound student-athlete to do? LRT Sports has truly lived up to its promise. It has kept "the college recruiting process honest and easy by providing first hand information about coaches, schools and the recruiting process." Their interviews with current students, coaches, and professional athletes have provided realistic guidance. I am much more informed because of LRT Sports! The coach ratings are the most helpful. LRT Sports interviews allow us to hear from students as to how the adults are impacting not only their athletic experience but also how they are helping to shape their adult self.
The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
If you have something that’s going to spell [the recruiting process] out for you… it’s so valuable. I think what everyone at LRT Sports is doing to spread the word and help advocate and educate athletes on the recruitment process is incredible.
Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.