Upon returning home from a lacrosse tournament in the late fall of my sophomore year, my club lacrosse coach gave me a phone number with instructions. The note instructed me to call a particular college coach because he was very interested in me. I scheduled an unofficial visit for the first week in December. Thrilled that my recruiting journey was about to begin, I went through my whole wardrobe to pick out the perfect outfit so that I could make a great first impression.
On Thursday morning, my parents and I loaded up the car and made the four-hour journey. We were excited but didn’t know what to expect. When we arrived, we were greeted by the coaches, and then quickly, we began our tour around the athletic facilities. I was awestruck at the grandeur of the locker rooms, field, the unfathomable amounts of gear, and overall treatment of the athletes. The coach spent time explaining how many sets of helmets and gloves that were given to each player, noting that some recruits are “gear guys,” who got hooked on the school because of the gear they receive. After we had entered the locker room, I noticed some players were smashing their sticks on the ground as if to break them. I was a bit intimidated and astonished at their actions. The players noted that they get a free head when they break theirs, even if they purposely break them. This type of behavior was the first red flag of my recruiting visit. I wondered if every team across the country acted like this and if all coaches accepted this type of practice. It didn’t feel right.
After our tour, we met in the coach’s office. I’m going to preface this with some background on myself. Ever since I was born, my older brothers led me to believe that getting a haircut would be extremely painful. As a result, I ended up with a ponytail until I was eleven years old. I never cut my hair and had long hair during this visit. Given the history that coincides with lacrosse, the coach believed that I was a Native American because of my hair. However, I am not and was taken aback when the coach commented that I was Native American. While it was easy to see the mistake, I felt a bit awkward and embarrassed having to explain the course of events that led to me having a ponytail for the vast majority of my life. While the encounter was awkward, my uneasy visit did not stop there.
After our meeting with the coaches, my family was led out to the field to watch a practice. The drills began, and the ball was flying around the field. Each player seemed to know what they were doing and executed every movement with high precision, and I was most definitely impressed. During the cool-down stretches, two players on the corner of the field decided to settle some dispute by fighting each other. The fight was broken up immediately, and the players put on opposite ends of the field. I could not comprehend what just transpired and patiently waited to see what the coach’s reactions would be. Oddly, the coaches seemed happy that his players dropped their gloves and that they physically went at each other. The team was at odds at how they felt the situation should have been handled. I held my breath because I didn’t believe it was my place to say anything.
Following practice, I was introduced to the guys who I would be staying with for the night. Once my parents were out of earshot, the players referred to me for the rest of the visit simply as “recruit.” They never said my name. I felt completely uncomfortable and did not know how to react, so I just smiled.
Our night consisted of video games and small talk as our futile attempts to minimize the awkwardness that permeated the room. The next day, I was scheduled to go to class with my hosts. I was told the players were required to sit in the first three rows of the class and that the coaches periodically came by to ensure the players were following their rules. However, when we got to the classroom, the three players I was with led me to the back of the class, where one of the players ended up napping for the entire period. Needless to say, the experience was a once in a lifetime experience, but for all the wrong reasons.
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Image courtesy of: NCAA.com
Posted on August 13, 2017 in Recruiting 101
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