Boys Recruiting Thoughts and Help for the Masses

I posted this in the “Boys High School Lacrosse” forum but I am posting this in the 23’s, 24’s, 25s. since they will be affected most by recruiting just to try and generate more conversation as I am curious to other's thoughts

I apologize ahead of time as this is a VERY VERY long post so I left a[b] TL;DR summary[/b] at the top. There are also likely errors in this so I welcome any corrections. I also suspect these thoughts may hold true for the girl’s game but I don’t know anything about girl’s recruiting. Yes, I have too much time on my hands now the kids have moved on.

I am posting this as anonymous – I’m not notIntelligent (haha). This may generate a lot of thoughts, positive or negative but the point is to get a discussion going because I find there is very little actual recruiting help on these forums. I am sure many of the replies will be “bitter parent” “Ok Rebel Parent” or “team91 parent” or “Stunad” or “legacy dad” or “your kid graduated, why are you still on these forums you creeper”, etc. This is just one person’s opinion as someone who has gone through it (kid was a middie, on-age who ended up in a good D3 school) but had some D1 looks / offers so maybe this can be used to help others (or maybe I’m a coach……..). If you feel the need to comment, try to post something constructive. If you don’t like the post; scroll on by.

You may agree with 0%, 50% or 90% of it. It is important to note that these are just generalizations on a Bell Curve; there are always exceptions to the rules: there are some who got recruited way above their pay class and there also talented people who fell far in recruitment. This should apply to most but there are definitely outliers where people have forged their own paths. Tell us your stories!

For those whom this is TL;DR

1) Talent and connections trump everything, which leads into…
2) … being realistic about your kid’s ability as many parents cannot be “objective”
3) Be cognizant of how much you are projecting your own hopes and dreams onto your kid – don’t be that parent.
4) Some of you feel like you are running on a “Hamster Wheel” when it comes to recruiting. Find out what “Hamster Wheel” you want to be on – don’t be afraid to change wheels midstream
5) Have “fun” – but to be perfectly honest, if you are at the level where you are hoping to be recruited, I am not going to sit here and say having fun is the only thing that matters because that is BS. That being said, having fun is still important whether it be lacrosse, long road trips with your kids, having a meal with them, visiting colleges – all are fun.
6) Whatever college or trade school you kid ends up in, it will be perfectly OK in the end
7) Don’t believe what everyone tells you (including me). What may have worked for someone else may not work for you as I can guarantee you kid is so very different from everyone else.
8) Lacrosse is finite – don’t make short term decisions with long term consequences. It is Ok to sacrifice saying “my kid got into a low D1 school with poor academics” just for the sake of being D1. It will be better in the long run to apply to a better academic D1 school that has club, the MCLA’s or better academic D3 schools

Soooo, moving on these are the factors that I think of importance (from most to least) to get recruited:

1) Talent – trumps all – if your kid is already a superstar, most of this does not apply to you. If he/she don’t have as much talent, try to be realistic about their high level D1 / D3 dreams. Be very realistic about how your own child grades out. You may think they are superstar but if they haven’t competed on the national stage where the competition is the best, you cannot really know how good your kid is, even if everyone tells you they are the best. Be as objective as possible; rate your kid on a 100 point scale. Most players who are 93+ have a decent chance at a high D1/D3 school. Anything below that, it is going to be more difficult to get into the top schools and don’t punch way above you kid’s weight class when it comes to recruiting as it will lead to disappointment. However, there really is a lock for every key and if your kid really wants to play lacrosse, there are 400+ schools out there to play at. If you don’t have connections or talent, you will have to market the garbage out of yourself – go to showcases, prospect days, make good videos, email (the appropriate amount), sign up for recruiting services. But honestly, most of those all have minimal impact unless you have the connections but it’s all you got at that point.
2) Connections (High / Prep School or Club) – my kid went to several prospect days for schools as well as sent several emails to schools and he never heard a peep from any of them until a coach reached out on his behalf. I truly believe that this is the most important beyond talent. Coaches at all levels are getting hundreds of videos and thousands of email. They simply do not have the time to review them all or even open them. Having a coach call or email, allows you to jump to the top of the food chain (think Chutes and Ladders).
3) Grades – how could I leave this out in the original post! If you don’t have the grades, you aren’t getting into an elite school. Sports will help somewhat but you do have to have some sort of baseline decent grades.
4) Your kid’s High School prestige – there is line somewhere that separates the elite schools for lacrosse from the run-of-the-mill lacrosse high schools. If you are below that line, unless there is an individual connection, your chances of an elite D1/D3 school are slim to none without that connection. That being said, your high school play is still very important for recruiting for the other D1/D2/D3 schools because it is your high school coach that knows you best.
5) Your kid’s Club – same facts hold true as it does (#3) high school. I often get asked what club team should I chose. Do not balk at driving distance as a barrier. Sometimes you will have to drive far to get to a better club. To be honest, I would choose the best, highest ranked club because they play in the best tournaments (NAL, NLF, Crabfeast and Naptown, Great8) and try and get on their A squad at as young an age as possible. That way the club knows your child over time and will go to bat for you eventually. In addition, if you don’t make the top team, it gives you a chance to: work your way up to the A team or look for another club that may suit you better. That brings up the topic of A vs B. In reality, most B teams are not sending players to top D1/D3 schools (some are but that is not the norm). If being at a top lax school is not your goal then A vs B doesn’t matter as much because plenty of B players play college lacrosse. My kid was on a team that did not think much about his game. He was at a small local club and so he made the jump to a national club. He started on their C team and worked his way up to started on the top team so it is possible. Finally, understand these clubs are in the MONEY MAKING business as most are for-profit. They will sell you a bridge to nowhere as long as they get your tuition checks. Here is how I break them down:
a. Some are outright frauds. They don’t care and they just want your money
b. Some put together some half -hearted attempts at recruiting – they go through the motions but are not really making phone calls on your kids behalf
c. Others really only promote their best players. These are also fraudulent as they put all their time and effort into marketing their best players only, while the rest remain tution check to support those best players.
d. Finally, there are some truly excellent programs who will do their best to place a kid anywhere whether it be the best D1 program to the worst D3 program.
e. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention National teams and National tournaments – on paper, it is a very good idea but part of me says there is a money grab aspect. You can even see multiple clubs joining together to make national team (eg CLCA). I think it is the next evolution and I would not be surprised if National tournaments become the norm with local tournaments still existing but becoming second fiddle.
Coaches will tell you they will help you with recruiting but the reality is they do not want to put their name out there to back you if there is a lacrosse:talent mismatch. So if your Johnny rates as an 80, don’t ask your coach to get you into Syracuse because they won’t do it. It is a shame that some clubs promise you the world but don’t help you even though are paying $2000-4000 for your club; for them to not help you is just fraudulent. How to tell if a club is real or not? Look at their website. A good one would post a list of ALL their commits, not just the ones who get into top D1 schools which usually means they had a favorite player. Look at their social media. Are all of their posts only about 1-5 of their top kids? Finally, word of mouth – talk to the older kids and kids who have moved through the program; not the superstars but the average ones who had college lax dreams.
6) Prospect Days – this is the best way to get in front of a school on an individual basis. However, many of these are pure money grabs. We have been to several where no one was filming, coaches had no paper or they were not writing anything down. Clearly no evaluation was going on. It does allow you to get in front of the coaches and look at the campus. But I am somewhat cynical because if you were not already on their radar, a coach didn’t send you, or you were not invited, it is unlikely to be helpful.
7) Showcases- There are so many showcases out there. Many of them are money grabs and really garbage showcases. How do you know what is a good showcase? I wish I knew the answer to that but I can say that if the showcase has a good list of head coaches then it is going to be pretty good. If the communication is pretty good, then that is also a good sign. I will throw it out there and say good ones are Showtime, The Players Series, Spotlight, ECD, Lacrosse Masters, Main Stage, NXT Fall, The Show, Juniors Open, Main Stage. Then there are the average showcases (3D, adrenaline, my lacrosse tournaments, Elite 100, Elite 180, GFW, Q4, Victory, Maryland Showcase). UA and National All Star Games are very good but very political. 1%, FiveStar and Apex are very heavily marketed but have found them to be more glitz than substance. What is important to know is nobody is going to be “discovered” at most of these so do not think your kid is going to show up and “kill it” and get recruited by Duke. Coaches usually have a list of players they are there to see and if the kid does well, then they reach out. Finally, no one cares about wins and losses at showcase so don’t be that parent.
8) Recruiting video – coaches are getting hundreds of video so they may never even open your video or emails. That being said, video is still 100% necessary in this day and age of recruiting. If they do open it, you want your intro to be brief and you want to front load your 5-star highlights. Some say don’t use music; my feeling is they can always mute it. Try to film your own video even though it is a pain in the arse. Much of the paid tournament videos offered are expensive and very poor quality. It is a pain in the butt to film your own highlight video but you will have a much higher quality video that is zoomed in appropriately. Iphone and imovie work perfectly fine or invest in a cheap HD camcorder. Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen: inappropriate offensive music, not zooming in on your child, including highlights that aren’t highlights, not highlighting /circling your player in the video (you know your kid so it’s easy to pick out for you but most coaches, it’s pretty hard to pick up to the player in that 4 second clip). Some say, don’t make it longer than 2 minutes; my feeling is most coaches aren’t watching past 1 minute (if they open it) and if you give a 6 minute highlight video they can always just shut it off.
9) Position – kids are specializing more and more (SSDM, FOGO, LSM and goalies). If you are really good at your position, you stand a very good chance. If you are mediocre, you better show that you can do other things. At the Prospect Days, I have noticed more and more defenders and less middies which stinks for defense, that stinks because I think that is also the hardest position to get recruited at. Goalies always fill first so get in early. If you are not looking high level, none of this is as important
10) Recruiting profiles (NCSA, SportsRecruit, ConnectLax, CaptainU) – these are likely only helpful for the mid-lower Tier D1, D2, D3 schools. The top schools will not or do not use these services – they do everything through connections.

Additional comments, myths and facts?

1. I am assuming that most people “try to punch up” with their recruiting (ie they will try and overachieve with their lacrosse ambitions) so be patient, be realistic and don’t be disappointed. There is a “lock for every key” as there are over 400 lacrosse colleges. If you really want to play lacrosse, you will find a school.
2. Re-class – there is so much detest on this forum about re-classed players. Unfortunately, it is here to stay until colleges and clubs change their mind (USA Lacrosse has zero ability or desire to change this). Colleges and clubs don’t want to change because they want the most mature and physically gifted players so they could care less that your kid is on-age. Some kids re-class for legit reasons (maturity, academics). But some also re-class to try and get into a better school. IMHO, re-classing is destroying the sport but it’s here to stay. It is completely unfair but totally within the rules. Why on earth would someone re-class for lacrosse reasons only is beyond me. I can’t imagine how dominant my kid would have been if he was going against kids 1 -3 years younger.
3. Lacrosse players are not getting a full scholarship: Full scholarships are uncommon and most will only get a very small amount of money
4. Lacrosse is finite: I think lacrosse carries on forever whether it be a playing in beer league, coaching, raising your own kid, etc. But in terms of a career, very few people go on to make a living out of playing lacrosse. Lacrosse has a finite end and for some it ends after high school; some after college. Don’t make short term decision with long term consequences
5. Commit vs Preferred-Walk-on vs Walk-on – I know very little about this. All I can say is that if you are a preferred walk-on you are on the team but you don’t always travel. If you tryout and walk-on (not preferred), there are generally very little chances or spots at the high collegiate level but probably plenty at the lower caliber schools
6. Prep vs Private vs Catholic – depends what part of the country you live. Not all preps are lacrosse powerhouses nor are all catholic schools. There are a few public schools that carry a lot of weight but chances are your high school does not; you will know
7. PG – from what I have been told, do not PG unless it is arranged ahead of time with a college who specifically said you should PG. There are plenty of PG’s who PG but do so without a college talking to them. There are even PG schools out there. They still eventually get into lacrosse schools but it usually is not a step up to playing for Duke / Virginia / Syracuse / Yale etc. That being said, some need to PG for academic and maturity reasons.
8. How often should I email a coach – I believe coaches are getting hundreds of emails. Chances are, they are not going to read or even open your email (at least at the high D1 or high D3 level). That being said – maybe once a month and always have some sort of update whether it being lacrosse or academic.
9. Don’t be that lacrosse dad or mom. Honestly, be quiet. Don’t coach your son on the field. Don’t yell “wheels” “ward” “offsides” and ride the refs. Coaches do actually notice this. They don’t care so much at the collegiate level because they can limit the parent’s sphere of influence but somewhere in the back of their mind, they are wondering if the apple doesn’t fall from the tree when they are recruiting. No one cares that you were once a superstar or failed athlete. Everyone can see you are projecting who you once were or wanted to be onto your child
10. The Grass is Not Always Greener (See Clubs above) – it’s OK to be a club hopper – we jumped clubs and it worked out for the better but it doesn’t always. Just make sure you are doing it because there are faults with the club and not faults with you or your kid. Most parents cannot tell the difference sadly. If you do go club hopping, make sure you latch on to one before high school because making the change after high school is very difficult
11. The New England region and Long Island used to be center of the lacrosse universe. That is no longer the case. I believe it is currently the MidAtlantic (re-class) but areas such as the South (Fl, GA, TX), Midwest (Il, MI) and West (CA, CO) are producing amazing players along with New England and LI still being very good
12. D1 vs D2 vs D3
a. D1 – I think a lot of kids can play D1 as there are some D1 schools that are not as competitive out there and would be happy to take all sorts of talent. The only thing I would advise is don’t go D1 for the sake of going D1. D1 is also a full time job so they have to juggle academics with their lacrosse.
b. D2 – they do offer scholarships. Some are great schools and great lacrosse programs but academically I have found they are not as good as some of the D1 and D3 schools
c. D3 – I do not believe they offer sport scholarships but will offer other scholarships. Even though D1 is a full time job, D3 is also very busy especially in the spring. The main difference is the 20 hours in the fall that D1 has that D3 does not but D3 still practices in the fall. D3 probably has the largest cohort of schools from incredibly competitive to very mediocre.
d. MCLA – do not overlook these schools. Some are top academic institutions (Stanford, Rice, GaTech, etc)
e. Club lacrosse – also do not overlook this. Totally OK.

Timeline – don’t get sad if all your friends commit on 9/1 of their junior year. D3 doesn’t make offers until later and sometimes D1 makes commitments as late as December of your senior year. Patience, young grasshopper.
1) D1 - You cannot be contacted by anyone for recruiting until September 1 of your junior year. That being said, they can reach out to you with camps and prospect days but not personally. Now obviously kids who verbally commit on 9/1 must have had some contacts with the colleges but most of it is through high school / clubs
2) D2 – June 15 after the sophomore year
3) D3 – I believe they can talk at any time but some of the NESCACs adopt D1 rules. D3 offers do not go out until June (or July?) 1 after their junior year

Choosing a school: it will be a multitude of factors but this is what I think plays into it (in no order)

1) Academics – imho, don’t sacrifice this for lacrosse, but that being said, you will probably be fine at any school depending on what you make out of it
2) D1 vs D2 vs D3 – similar to above – don’t get caught up on the D1 Hamster Wheel – plenty of good options out there
3) Starter vs bench – some kids just want to be part of a process; some need to be the superstar. Find out where your kid is and if you are realistic, it may open doors and don’t shoot for the stars, it may open up a lot of schools.
4) Conference they play in and level of competition
5) Money – it matters. There are some very rich people on these forums who don’t realize that. That being said, most are not getting full sports scholarships.
6) Coaches and their coaching philosophy – this has to be the right fit
7) Lacrosse is finite – don’t choose a school because of a lacrosse

Well I am sure I left a lot out. Let the detest begin (haha). But seriously, try and help out your fellow lax members with something constructive. Everyone enjoy the ride though. It was great for me, my wife and all our kids.