Recruiting-what to DO & what NOT to do the summer before your Junior year!

Summer has arrived!  For girl's lacrosse, the summer recruiting season begins this Memorial Day weekend at the US Lacrosse Schoolgirl's National Tournament. For the 2021 class, they have from Memorial Day until September 1st, 2019 (the day when coaches can communicate)--so that's 3 months or 14 weeks or 97 days.  The 21s most likely only have anywhere from 12 - 20 games to play and a few camps they'll attend before the coaches begin to call!

My girls experienced both ends of the recruiting spectrum.  As 2020s, they made multiple visits during their freshman year of high school and received several offers--and then in the midst of it all-- the recruiting rules changed in April of 2017 and those rules became effective immediately--so everything came to a halt and the 2020s who hadn't committed had to wait 18 months until September 1st, 2018 before they were allowed to communicate with coaches again.  As a side note, I am thankful that the early recruiting was shut down.  I still think the system is not perfect and could use some tweaking, but all-in-all, 14-year-old kids (at least mine) were not ready/mature enough to make a decision which would affect the next 40+ years of their life.  It was hard to wait, but it was definitely a good thing.

Needless to say, we learned quite a bit going through the journey of recruiting.  Many people often ask us to share our experience. Hopefully some of what we learned will help others athletes and their families to navigate the pathway to find the right fit academically and athletically. 

In order to keep it simple, this first blog on recruiting will be a top ten list of some Do's & Don't's to help 2021s over this summer's recruiting season:

#10 DON'T stress--do not think you need to have it all figured out.  Do not worry if you have no idea what college you want to go to.  There are ample opportunities in D1, D2 & D3 to play lacrosse in college.  Find the right school and then figure out the lacrosse part.

#9 For parents-DO look at college costs and know what you may be looking at financially before September 1st rolls around.  Almost every college has online Net Price Calculators.  Lacrosse is an equivalency sport which means that there are 12 full scholarships (if a program is fully funded).  Coaches will divide up those 12 scholarships in different ways for the 30+ girls on the team.  There's not one way in which scholarships are given out by coaches.  Different schools offer scholarships different ways and it is extremely rare for a full scholarships to be given. I'll post more about scholarships as Sept. 1st gets closer.  A quick summary is  if an athlete receives an athletic scholarship offer of 30% or more, that is a good offer. Some schools may offer less, some may offer more.  Some of the top recruits find that receiving financial aid (which can not be combined with athletic aid) covers more than an athletic scholarship. The best scenario typically (this will vary from school-to-school) is if an athlete is able to stack athletic aid with academic aid.  Bottom line is if your child loves a school that is going to cost $60,000 a year--can your family afford $42,000 per year in tuition if your child is offered a 30% athletic scholarship.  This is something important to consider as your child begins to narrow their list of schools!

#8 DON'T just assume you can show up and play in tournaments and expect coaches to call September 1st.  There is work that you as a player need to do on your end.  If you are interested in a school, go to their website and fill out their online questionnaire.  Read their "For Recruits" section. IF possible, by all means get out to the camp of the school that you are interested in.  Send the coaches your summer tournament schedule and a highlight video.  Do NOT send your schedule on Friday when the tournament begins that Saturday.  Coaches are watching multiple athletes on different fields and sometimes at several locations.  They have to plan out their recruiting schedule.  The best time to send your schedule is the Monday before a tournament and no later than Wednesday.  Include your team's name & who they are playing, where they are playing, field #, time and your jersey #.  Always have your coach's name, email and cell number in your email.  You should include your information as well.  Since communication until September 1st in ONE WAY--you need to let the schools you are interested in know that you are interested.

#7 DO make a 1-page roster sheet of your entire team to hand to college coaches who come to watch your games.  All that needs to be on the roster is the team's name, coach's name, email & cell; the players name, position and jersey #. (they do not need to be fancy, they do not need to be multiple pages, they do not need a lot of info). Most coaches will accept a roster when offered.  Some will even take notes on them.  Some coaches are all digital (most tournaments provide rosters) and will not need the roster, but all the coaches are nice when approached.  The parent who gives out the pages should be non-chalant.  They can offer a roster and move on. The coaches are not going to strike up a conversation nor are they allowed to.  They can say hello.  The parent is not promoting their kid, but sharing a roster of the entire team.  Also, whoever hands out the rosters can keep tabs on which coaches come watch and give the club coach a list of the schools that were watching the team play.  Most coaches only watch one half.  It helps to know if Suzy Q emailed XYZ College to come watch her play that the coach came.  Doesn't necessarily mean that they are interested, but it is good to know.

#6 DO enjoy playing!!!  Coaches are not watching to keep tabs on who scores the most goals.  I had a coach tell me when she's recruiting that she loves to watch what a player does when they get double teammed and what they are doing off ball.  Coaches are also watching on the sidelines.  One parent wanted to have a parent go and run to tell the coaches what schools were watching so the coaches would make sure to put their kid in to play-that's ridiculous.  If a coach comes to watch a kid play, they will stick around until they get in the game.  They like to see what players are doing while they're on the sideline--are they cheering on their teammates or not paying attention...College coaches are looking for more than goal scorers when they are recruiting.

#5  DON'T  have negative body language.  Along with having fun is having positive body language.  Coaches will scratch a kid off their list because of their body language on the field.  Coaches don't want drama.  They want good kids who play with all their heart, are great team mates and love the game.  Throwing your stick, yelling at a ref or worse at your teammate, acting out your frustrations-there are a lot of components coaches consider when recruiting an athlete.  How you carry yourself and your body language can say a lot about you as a player!

#4 2021s-DO work hard--this is your summer!  Hopefully you have already been working hard!  Get on the wall at least 3-5xs a week for 10-15 minutes-it will not only show in your play, but will give you confidence.  If you are great at ground balls, become even greater--work on GBs extra before and after practice.  DO the extra things to be the best player you can be!  DO Take care of your body; Eat healthy, get sleep and make sure that you drink TONS of water everyday this summer---especially before and during tournaments.  My daughter got heat exhaustion before her first game at Under Armour.  Thankfully, after drinking 50 ounces of water and cooling down, she was able to play in the rest of the tournament, but she did have to miss the first game.  Don't miss out on playing over not taking care of yourself.  Hard work truly pays off!

#3  DO focus on Making your teammates look good!  If a team goes out and plays together-there's nothing more beautiful.  Coaches are looking for kids with good lax IQs who communicate on the field, can move beyond a mistake, who encourage each other and work as a team.  Ball hogs and selfish players are not impressive.  If you get subbed out, cheer for your teammate who goes in for you and be engaged in what's happening on the field.  Encourage your teammates on and off the field.  Coaches want good teammates and good people!

#2 DON'T worry about who is watching!  Go and play the game you love with the teammates you love.  Make sure you are giving 110% at all times.  A lot of coaches will sit front and center on the sidelines but some may sit off in the distance and some will even go and sit near the crazy parents.  Play your best, have fun and be the player that you always are-don't try and change how you play because a college coach is watching.  After the tournament, if a parent did hand out rosters, you can find out from your coach what schools were watching and then send an email "thank you" to the coaches who came to watch you play-OR-if a coach was watching from a school that you did not email but you are interested in, then be bold and send that coach an email and introduce yourself.  Most likely, they were not there watching you play--but maybe you caught their eye.  No one can read your mind, recruiting is like getting a job-you have to market yourself and let it be known that you are interested. If you play with heart, passion, skill and speed hopefully you will stand out, but if no coaches were emailed and no one comes to watch your team play-it's will be hard to get noticed .

Which leads to the most important thing that 21s who would like to play lacrosse in college should do this summer...

#1 DO COMMUNICATE!  Unfortunately, at the moment the communication is only one sided.  If you do not do your part, do not expect a plethora of schools to just randomly call on Sept. 1. You need to reach out and express interest in the schools you are interested in. If a college coach lets your club coach know that they "Have general interest in you".  Make sure to Email that school and let them know that you are interested. Let them know why you are interested in their school.  Include a short highlight video or a link to one in your email is important.  Highlight videos should not be long and the first clip should be something that gets the coaches attention.  You can create a 5 minute video of the 50 goals you may have scored during high school season but it would be better to have one or two fabulous goals, some assists, a great ride, caused turnover, draw control; a few great saves and good clears...You can actually show a lot of who you are as a player in a one-minute video.

I will also give a plug for a recruiting website that will help make your summer easier (and I am not being paid for this)

Over the two+ years of my kids going through recruiting, we pretty much tried every free and paid recruiting website.  I would rate five stars.  It streamlines everything and makes emailing coaches simple. If a coach looks at your recruit page then you can choose to receive a text alerting you that XYZ coach just looked at your profile. I found sportsrecruits to be a fantastic tool that will save you a lot of time.  Probably the biggest incentive with the recruiting communications all being one-sided is that sports recruit lets you know how many times a school looks at your profile or video and it offers some insight into which schools may be interested.

Recruiting is a journey...a very interesting one.  Information is power and there's actually a good bit of information which will help you navigate through the journey.  Enjoy the summer and make the most of it!