Playing college lacrosse has as much to do with your ability as it does with how well you market yourself. Unfortunately, playing well in high school is not always going to get the phones ringing. Don’t get us wrong, it is great to be successful in high school, you never know who is watching. However, while you are busy practicing and playing to get seen by college coaches, they are busy practicing and preparing for the game they have coming up as well. Compared to other big time sports the lacrosse community is very small. Everybody knows somebody. That is what makes marketing yourself as a player so beneficial. If one person sees something they like, they may drop your name to a coach or recruiter who is looking for talent. We have come up with five things to do in order to better market yourself as an aspiring college lacrosse player.
1: Join a Club Team
Find a club team from your area who participates in recruiting tournaments. These tournaments take place all summer along with a few in the fall. College coaches love to attend these tournaments. They are saturated with talent and are organized to be coaching friendly. Coaches receive rosters for each team to make it easy for note taking and recruiting. It is important that you get on a club team that is going to attend some higher profile tournaments. Coaches don’t go out of their way to watch four teams play. They like to be efficient with their time, seeing the most lacrosse possible using the least amount of gas.
2: Attend Recruiting Camps
Although some of these camps are priced ridiculously high, the attention you receive from hundreds of coaches at a time almost makes it worth it. Camps like Top 205, Hot Beds, and Blue Chip are all very high profile and receive a lot of attention from top tier programs. Some camps are by invitation only, such as Blue Chip. However, other camps that can be just as beneficial only require a recommendation from your high school lacrosse coach. In addition to serving as a great recruiting tool, these camps are about as much fun as you will ever have playing the game of lacrosse. There is one session where specific skills are worked on through drill work, and from then out it is all scrimmages. You get drafted onto a team, play a championship game, and finish the week with an all-star game. These camps are also a great opportunity to network, lax, and hang out with players from around the country.
3: Make a List
Choosing a college that seems suitable for you is extremely important. You need to do a little research before just taking any offer that comes along. Making a list is the first step in deciding what kind of atmosphere, education, and even location you want to commit four years of your life to. It is a great idea to go online, and research some schools you have thought about, heard about, and believe you have a shot at getting into and playing lacrosse. It is important that you take a look at your skill level and make an honest assessment of what you’re capable of. With that being said, do not sell yourself short. It is important to be confident and dream big. If you want to play for Hopkins Lacrosse or Duke Lacrosse, and you think you have the grades and the game, by all means include Hopkins & Duke on your list. Leave the decision up to the coaching staffs on whether or not they would like you to be a part of their program.
This list should be at least ten schools in length. After you have done your research and know these schools offer the programs you would like to major in, rank them. One through ten, one being your dream college choice and ten being a school you would be happy attending. There are hundreds of schools competing in college lacrosse these days. It is not unreasonable to have ten schools you would like to visit and/or attend.
4: Contact the Coach
After you have finalized your list, go online and find out how to get a hold of the coaches at each school. Many college lax coaches have their emails or phone numbers listed on the team website. Some coaches are a little harder to get a hold of. Do not settle for being unable to find the coaches contact information. Call the school, drive over there if it is nearby, do whatever it takes to get your name in front of him. Many schools have an information sheet available for potential recruits to fill out on their website. This will not hurt to fill out but based on experience, this is not where coaches find many recruits. So that makes your initial introduction that much more important. When you email the coach there are few things that are imperative to tell him. Let him know your name, your age, your school, what club team you play for, tournaments you will be playing in, and camps you will be attending. Let the coach know that you are interested in the school and being a part of the lacrosse tradition there. Lastly, leave him with a question. Something short and to the point works best. For example, tell him, “I would really like the opportunity to speak to you either on the telephone or in person. If you could shoot me a quick message back with your office phone number and a good time for you, I would love to formally introduce myself and chat for just a couple of minutes”.
This may or may not spark a response from the coach. If it does, make sure you call during the time slot he encouraged you to do so. If not, be persistent. Don’t be annoying, but be sure to follow up a few days later to try and make sure he saw your message and understands how interested you are in attending the college and playing lacrosse for his team.
5: Visit, Visit, Visit
Take as many visits as possible, official or unofficial. This is the best opportunity to get on campus, and get in front of the coach. This is also a great opportunity to see what the school is all about. Sometimes, a schools website can be misleading as to what campus life and the surrounding area is really like. In the end, your happiness is the number one goal, so make sure you know what you’re getting into and have experience with multiple colleges to weigh out some pros and cons.
Also, while it is nice to be invited for a visit, that is not the only way to arrange a visit. If you do get in contact with the coach in your letters, let him know that you would like to come out and check out the program and the school. Most coaches will be open to a visit of some sort. This is a great chance to make a first impression and further market yourself to the coaches and guys on the team.
We hope you found this educational and helpful in your college pursuit. Don’t expect the phone to start ringing unless you have actively made an effort to market yourself and your skills to multiple college coaches. It is a small percentage of players who just get recognized and offered scholarships without doing any extra work on their end. So be proactive, confident, and enthusiastic. Always keeping your end goal in mind, work hard at the fundamentals of the game and the rest will come.