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September 1, 2021

The School Cut My Sport before I Even Got to Compete

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Who would want to block shots as fast as a speeding car for fun? For someone like Bryce, a lacrosse goalie, it is a passion and opportunity for a college athletic scholarship. However, what if you had already committed to play a spring sport, gone to school for a whole semester, met friends, adjusted to college life, and then, POOF! The school cuts the program, and you are forced to stay and not play or transfer in two months to another program. This is Bryce’s Recruiting Horror Story™. 

During his junior year of high school, Bryce verbally committed to playing DII lacrosse at a school in Georgia. All he had ever wanted was to be able to play and compete at the college level. When the Fall term of his freshman year had started, everything was going smoothly. He was adjusting to academics, lacrosse, and social life. He was established as the starting goalie and got along great with his coaches. 

Tragedy Struck

Then tragedy struck. The head coach and assistant coaching staff that had recruited him were FIRED.

After ‘cleaning the house’ the school hired a whole new coaching staff in the winter. Now, this is typically the season that a spring sport like lacrosse starts to prepare for their season. Coaches schedule exhibition scrimmages and players learn their roles on the team and in different formations. What the team did not know was that the school was embarrassed with the previous culture and image of their lacrosse team, and the new coaches were hired to fix this problem. 

“Players that had been around for a couple of seasons have created some bad habits, and were rebellious, to say the least.”

Related: Athlete’s Recruiting Ended when Coach and Assistant Coach Get Fired

The School Began to Revoke Players’ Scholarships

The new coaches did not tolerate this type of behavior. Players not academically eligible were forced into study halls and tutoring. Those that skipped practice would be benched during scrimmages and asked to not even dress down at times. Players that partied constantly and would show up late had to do extra conditioning. As a result, most of the players decided to strike against the school and coaches by not playing against their top conference rival.   

The school and the coaches did not take this act lightly, so they said that if players did not go to the next practices they would lose their athletic scholarships. Bryce was among 4 others that actually attended. The school began to revoke players’ scholarships. This infuriated the players and some families of the students, so they decided to march on the school president’s house. In retaliation, the school cut the team for the season. 

This all happened around the same time that COVID-19 was building momentum, so Bryce was sent back home. Bryce thought he had finally found a school that suited his needs for the next four years, but was now stuck at home dreading what would actually happen to not only his athletic scholarship but his future playing career. Then in June, he got a call from the school’s athletic director. 

Related: Stanford Field Hockey Program Cut One Month before Season

“Begin Your Transfer Process”

“I’m sorry to inform you of this but we will not be supporting a lacrosse team in the 2020-21 season. We suggest if you are still planning on playing that you look at other schools immediately and begin your transfer process.”

Feelings of shock, disappointment, fear, and anger welled up in Bryce. A recruiting process that had taken him three years to conclude had to be done over in less than two months…

Over the next week, Bryce visited six different colleges and universities around the country searching for another opportunity to play, but COVID-19 made it difficult to visit schools and meet with coaches. He finally found a school that his former coach was now employed at and some of his friends were attending, but it wasn’t a good fit academically. 

Related: How to Handle Transferring as a College Athlete

He Needed to Play Again

So, Bryce decided to move closer to home and attend the University of Minnesota. He would just go to school, not as an athlete, and take the time to decide what to do next. This time off helped him realize he needed to play again. After a couple of months of searching and reaching out to college lacrosse coaches again, he decided to make one more call. He dialed up the number and made the call back to the DII school in Georgia. 

To everyone’s surprise, the athletic director was glad that Bryce reached back out and listened as he explained his situation since leaving. How he enjoyed the school for many reasons including academics, professors, social atmosphere, as well as lacrosse. The athletic director told him that they have since gone through another new coaching staff with an entirely new set of recruits. 

Bryce’s story is not over, but at least for now, he will be one of those new recruits for this new coaching staff, and will get to help build something new with the team. This next fall he will be going back to Georgia to play lacrosse again on his entire athletic scholarship and hopefully earn his former spot as the starting goalie. While this Recruiting Horror Story was full of twists and turns, it ends in promise and hope for a future in college athletics.