This is the blast email from the guy who runs superstars. Not sure if I totally respect his honest world view or just think he believes this helps his marketing efforts fully proving how nutty it has all become.
Dear Lacrosse Parent,
I am frequently asked questions about lacrosse player development and how your son or daughter can play lacrosse in college. There are many answers to this question, or maybe there is only one. If you want to know about the current recruiting landscape in the world of lacrosse and why developing skills NOW matters, please read on. I’ll try to keep it simple and more importantly brutally honest.
I saw a post on Facebook the other day where a woman was asking “why can’t sports go back to the way they were when we were kids. Now kids are so over-scheduled and have to play their sport year round…..”. When I saw the post, I wanted to reply with the answer, at least as it relates to lacrosse. I don’t think it’s all that complicated either, but I’ll get to that.
Let’s back up a bit (a lot further back than I want to actually admit), but let’s go back to the year 1990. In fact, let’s go back to November of 1990, just before Thanksgiving. It’s a Saturday. I am a high school senior. I have just completed a football game at Horace Greeley High School…it was a close game but we pulled out a win. I hustle to the locker room for the post game speech by Coach S. I quickly change my clothes and catch a ride directly to the airport. I am headed to my “official visit” to Syracuse University as a prospective lacrosse player. I have already visited Loyola College and Head Coach Dave Cottle has already come to my home the weekend before to have a beer with my father after watching me and 2 other Yorktown lacrosse players from our football team play in the game. As it turns out, those two other players, Matt Dwan and Jason Foley, both commit to Loyola in the weeks following this game, as HS Seniors. So I take my flight….arrive in Syracuse and spend 2 nights with Dom Fin, a freshman student-athlete at Syracuse University. I get the usual campus tour, trip to Marshall Street and visit a few of the lacrosse “houses” for various events. On the Monday morning before I leave, I have a meeting with Head Coach Roy Simmons Jr. We meet in the bleachers of Manley Field House and we have a brief conversation. After some small talk, he pulls out a manila envelope with an official scholarship offer from Syracuse University. As he explains to me, the offer is for a full scholarship. My parents will only be responsible for the cost of my books each semester. Everything else is covered. I smile and tell him I really appreciate the offer and that I am really excited about the idea of playing for Syracuse. However, I also tell him that Loyola College has also offered me a full scholarship, and they are willing to pay for my books as well. As I leave, I promise to speak with my parents and call him with an answer by the end of the week. He says that would be great and I catch a ride back to the airport. I am back in Yorktown in time to attend our football practice on Monday afternoon. And my decision to attend Syracuse University is made be the end of the evening.
We need to fast forward 25 years to get the “simple” answer to the Facebook post question I spoke of earlier. What has changed over 25 years and why? To start, think about this…I was a SENIOR in HS and still uncommitted. I was one of the most highly recruited players in the country that year. I had my pick of almost any school I wanted to attend….and yet, in November of my SENIOR YEAR, I was just beginning to get serious about an actual decision. And I’m lucky that decisions were made that late. TRUTH BE TOLD, IF SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY HAD EVALUATED ME AS A FRESHMAN OR EVEN A SOPHOMORE IN HS, THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT THEY WOULD HAVE DISMISSED THE IDEA OF EVEN RECRUITING ME, LET ALONE OFFERING ME A FULL SCHOLARSHIP. As a sophomore player on Yorktown’s 1989 State Championship team, I was a hard working crease player in a 2-2-2- offense. I had no outside shot and I couldn’t have dodged a long pole for the life of me. Of course, between my sophomore year and my senior year I had the stick in my hands 24-7 and I spent a ton of time in the weight room and on the track working on my speed and agility. I became an excellent player through hard work and dedication in the last two years I spent at Yorktown HS. And the rest is history…..hard work and dedication and skill acquisition carried me all the way to the National Hall of Fame.
GREAT ROY, WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
I’m glad you asked. The answer is that Division 1 coaches are making recruiting decisions and doing their evaluations on players who have not yet spent a single day in their respective high school hallways, let alone on their varsity teams. THEREFORE, THE PRESSURE IS ON PLAYERS IN GRADES 6, 7 & 8 TO MAKE THE SAME PROGRESS IN THEIR SKILLS & LACROSSE ABILITIES THAT I MADE AS A HS JUNIOR AND SENIOR. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IS DRIVING ALL OF THE MADNESS THAT WE ARE SEEING IN LACROSSE IN 2015. AND THIS IS WHY IF YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER HAS A DREAM OF PLAYING LACROSSE AT A DIVISION 1 SCHOOL, YOU NEED TO MAKE SOME VERY IMPORTANT DECISIONS WITH REGARD TO WHAT HE OR SHE DOES TO MAKE PROGRESS RIGHT NOW. IF YOU WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE IN HS TO FOCUS ON THIS ISSUE, YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND.
IS THERE ANY GOOD NEWS?
Sure. There is good news. The good news is that players who work extremely hard and eventually develop excellent skill sets and way above average lacrosse abilities while in 9th & 10th grade will eventually become excellent HS players and will enjoy playing a sport they love at the highest level, and maybe even garner some post-season awards. There are many excellent Division 2 and 3 schools that will be interested in attracting your child's services during their HS playing years. There are also likely to be some D-1 schools that are in the mix, but they are few and far between and they will be looking to fill very specific needs.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
I can’t tell any of you what to do about an issue that quite frankly bothers me as much as it bothers you. Having to tell my 6th grade son that his “dream school” will in all likelihood make a final decision on him during the summer after his 8th grade school year makes me want to scream. But it’s reality and he has a plan.
I’D ENCOURAGE ALL OF YOU TO CONSIDER MAKING A PLAN AS WELL. GET BETTER NOW…GET BETTER RIGHT NOW! DON’T WAIT. DON’T PUT IT OFF. THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY IS GETTING SMALLER EVERY SINGLE DAY!
If your son or daughter has a dream of playing lacrosse at the D-1 level, help them to develop their skills in as many ways as you can. This isn’t a plug for any of the programs I run. There are many great programs out there that can help your son or daughter develop stick skills that will stand out among their peers. Because ultimately, that is how they are going to be judged….how good is your player compared to the players that they are surrounded by and compared to the players they are playing against.
WHAT ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIP?
The full scholarship is almost a myth in 2015. They simply don’t exist! A few players in each recruiting class may get that type of offer, but it is extremely rare. If your son or daughter is an excellent player and garners the attention of multiple D-1 schools, he or she is likely to be offered a scholarship in the 25-30 percent range. A BIG scholarship is any offer over 50%. And the scholarship discussion still happens way, way after most verbal commitments are made.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A VERBAL COMMITMENT? DOES IT INCLUDE A SCHOLARSHIP OFFER?
A verbal offer is an offer for a prospective student-athlete to attend a D-1 school with the promise of a roster spot when they get there, assuming they maintain their grades and are able to get into the school when it comes time. That’s it. And it’s non-binding. The player and/or the coach can change their mind at ANY time, and sometimes they do. Coaches try very hard not to back out of verbal offers because it means future verbal offer carry less weight. Many players who “verbal” to a school do not discuss scholarship specifics at that point in time..they are simply thrilled to have been offered a roster spot and worry about the money later.
WHAT ABOUT A PG YEAR OR REPEATING 8TH GRADE?
The PG year has come and gone. Players who PG now only benefit if they are smart enough to announce their intention to do a PG as an 8th or 9th grader and then reclassify themselves on the recruiting circuit as a younger aged player....i.e. a 2019 player declares he will PG and begins to attend 2020 recruiting events or plays for a 2020 year club team the following summer.
Repeating 8th grade has become an incredibly common practice. In fact, some club teams actually recommend that ALL of their players repeat 8th grade if they are serious about attending a top tier division 1 school. I don't share this belief, but I will concede that repeating 8th grade gives a player another year to grow and develop as a player. To me, this is a last resort option, but I know plenty of players who have either repeated 8th grade or intend to repeat 8th grade in order to gain a year on their competition. If you look at the ages of the boys who are freshman in college playing lacrosse right now, you will find that most of them are significantly older than their non-athlete peers.
SO WHAT DO WE DO TO GET NOTICED?
DEVELOP SKILLS THAT ARE BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE’S AND TAKE THEM ON THE ROAD. GET FASTER AND STRONGER NOW. PLAY FOR A QUALITY SUMMER TEAM. ATTEND SHOWCASES. GO TO THE PROSPECT DAYS OF INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS. ATTEND THE SUMMER CAMP OF YOUR FAVORITE SCHOOL. GET IN FRONT OF THEIR COACHING STAFF AND MAKE IT COUNT…THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN NO EXPOSURE IS NEGATIVE EXPOSURE. IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE SEEN, BY ALL MEANS MAKE SURE YOU ARE READY TO PLAY!!!
There is plenty more to write about but I have taken up more than enough time for one afternoon….I wish you all the best on your journey…try to enjoy it and help your son or daughter embrace the hard work it will undoubtedly take to become a Division 1 Lacrosse Player!
DISCLAIMER- The opinions expressed in this email are exactly that, the opinions of one person. Your experience may be different. I would strongly encourage you to do your own research!