Originally posted December 1, 2014.

As December arrives, some things to think about as you get closer to making a decision.

  • Be smart on social media. Even if your account is private. Don’t scare a coach away because you tweeted something inappropriate in an effort to be cool for your high school friends. College coaches love mentioning how tough they are about cutting kids off their list for social media mischief.
  • Be proactive. You have to show that you are interested in the school. An email once before the summer starts isn’t going to cut it. There are too many kids playing and not that many spots at the next level for you to sit around and pray. Daily contact would annoy anyone. Once a week says I’m interested in being a future student athlete at your school.
  • If you’re going to use an online recruiting service, using Lacrosse Recruitsis your only option. LR will track your interactions with college coaches helping you to stay organized. Your club coach, assuming your club team is an integrated partner, will be able to help monitor your activity to keep you on track. LR was founded by lacrosse players at Wesleyan who are obviously dialed into the sport.
  • At this point, you’re probably not serious about playing college lacrosse if you don’t have footage of your play (game action or highlight tape) online. When you make your highlight video, put your best highlights up front. If you’re paying a local videographer to make your highlight tape be sure he understands what you want. Don’t let him decide how he wants to make your highlight video especially if he doesn’t have a lacrosse background. College coaches don’t have time to watch a full video so if you’re average plays begin the video they may be tempted to close the link. Be sure that video is mobile friendly so coaches can watch it while stuck at an airport or in the passenger seat of a car. Do not use inappropriate music.
  • Don’t complain about the early recruiting trend. D1 coaches are paid to evaluate talent. They aren’t going to make horrific mistakes. Regardless of where you are from, if you’re not dominating your local scene and having tremendous success at off season events, you might not be a D1 athlete. If you are seeing a lot of success, KEEP WORKING. It will only make your high school team better and maybe a D1 spot will open up down the road.
  • Choose a school as if lacrosse wasn’t available to you. Would you still want to go to that school if they didn’t offer lacrosse? Would you still want to go to that school if you got hurt and could never play again? If you’ve never heard of the school before they contacted you regarding lacrosse, is it a good fit for you? Lacrosse is only four years of your life but the degree will follow you forever.
  • On the other hand, don’t be willing to dismiss a school you’ve never heard of before the recruiting process begin. There are many great schools with great campuses that don’t receive a lot of national attention because they don’t have a D1 football team.
  • Is the weather going to be an issue? If you’re from the South, New England might be not be the best place for you to go to school.
  • Consider playing time. Are you willing to sit the bench for a couple years or do you need to play right away? There is a huge talent gap between high school and college lacrosse. You will no longer be the biggest, fastest, strongest athlete on the roster. Not only are there older players at your position, but you may not be the best player at your position in your recruiting class. Understand that it may take a couple of years to adjust to the new level of play. Are you going to be happy going to practice everyday knowing your playing time is still a few years away? If you aren’t playing, will that affect your school work
  • Look at stats from the college’s previous season. Identify a player who plays your position, but received zero playing time the year before. Then, look at his bio. Are you as big? Are you as tall? Do his high school accolades mirror yours? If they do mirror yours, what kind of competition did he play against in high school? Adjust your college list accordingly.
  • Use LaxPower’s recruiting database and the myriad of lacrosse recruiting media outlets to track developments in your recruiting class. If a school already has a goalie or face off guy, you may have to move on. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad player, it just means they went in a different direction. Perhaps they saw that athlete more times in person.
  • Visit as many campuses as possible. Even if you aren’t 100% sure you want to apply, visiting a campus is an important information gathering opportunity. Every school is going to look a four star resort on their website. Campuses look a little different in February. While no one is selecting a college based on how beautiful the campus is, you have to live there for four years.
  • Schedule an overnight visit to allow you to spend time with the team. Meeting teammates is crucial. If you don’t get along with your teammates, you won’t enjoy the experience, because the only kids you hang out with at any NCAA level are your teammates. (There were two distinct groups while I was at Wooster. The kids from Ohio and the kids that weren’t from Ohio. The non-Ohio kids ganged up on the natives when Ohio State’s football team lost or to simply mock the Midwest. Ohio kids would stick up for Wooster when non-Ohio kids complained about being in the state. “You decided to come here.” The Ohio kids tended to be a little more middle class, while the non-Ohio kids, particularly, the New England contingent skewed towards the upper class. Everyone hated the New England kids during the fall when the Patriots and Red Sox were on their playoff runs. If the socioeconomic backgrounds of the team don’t fit with what you’re used to, you might want to consider another school.)
  • Prospect days are beneficial to colleges because it gives them another avenue to pay their coaches, particularly volunteer assistant coaches at the D1 level. Just because you got an email regarding a prospect day doesn’t mean you’re a D1 athlete. They want to sell out their prospect days. On a more positive note, it is beneficial as it allows the schools to separate who is really interested in being a student athlete at their school because there is a cost of attendance. Kids with a fleeting interest aren’t going to attend a prospect day.
  • For the student athlete, a prospect day is great learning experience. You get to spend time on campus, interact closely with the coaches, and meet potential teammates. You’ll have a better understanding of whether or not you want to spend four years of your life with these people. Regardless of whether you’re offered a spot on the team by the end of the camp, try to pick up one bit of advice or instruction from the coaches. This could be the key to unlocking your future. Don’t play tight. Enjoy the moment.
  • If a school reaches out to you, but you aren’t interested, politely say thank you but tell them you are considering other options at this time. You don’t know if you’ll come across that coach again in the future or what they might tell a colleague.
  • Not every lacrosse program is going to be interested in your services. You’re not going to be interested in every program that reaches out to you. Never forget that you get to decide where you want to live for the next four years. You have all the power. Don’t let a coach pressure you into making a decision sooner. If they really want you, they will wait.
  • Don’t choose a school because you really like their assistant coaches. They won’t be there all four years of your career.
  • Don’t feel pressure to choose a certain school so you can impress your high school coaches, club coaches, teammates, high school friends, or family. You will grow apart from many of these people as soon as you leave for college. Going to XYZ University because you thought it would make someone proud is a fool’s errand.
  • Be willing to ask for help and guidance. Ask your high school guidance counselor. Ask your high school coach. Ask your club coach. Ask another club coach for help. This is a big decision don’t leave it up to chance.
  • Long term: Coaches are very friendly during the recruiting process, because you have something they want (your services.) When you get to campus, your services are immediately on the clock. Many coaches are looking to take a team with a 5-7 record to a 7-5 record so they can move on to the next job. They need you to perform from the day you step onto campus. They may not be as friendly as they were during the recruiting process. Be willing to take criticism. Be willing to ask what you need to do help the team. Don’t ask, “what can I do to get more playing time?”