Over the course of my 38 years as a secondary school, D1 collegiate head coach as well as a Professional coach in the MLL, I have had many aspiring and eager student-athletes ask me to help guide and assist them and their anxious parents through the college recruiting process. For the most part, when they have tried to navigate through the recruiting mine fields on their own, what they thought would be a relatively simple and quick journey instead turned out to become a daunting and confusing college lacrosse recruiting experience.
Because of the inherent nature of the recruiting process (I call it the “Beast”), it has become more and more evident that the stress, frustration and anxiety levels (for parent and child) tend to increase as a young athlete with great intentions attempts to become recruited (become a vital and integral member) by a group of selected college teams. The good news is that the recruiting process can actually unfold into what someone would describe as a beneficial endeavor and a great learning experience with a reality check mixed in. It does not have to necessarily be described as, “insane,” “absurd,” “mind boggling,” “crazy,” “money pit,” “unfair,” and a “waste of time,” as some folks have deemed it to be.
Based on my vast experiences, I can assure you that if the student-athlete and his/her family handle the entire recruiting process in the “appropriate manner,” then the demands from the “Beast” and the experiences that will evolve will not have simply developed into a repertoire of negative challenges. Instead, it will have become a demanding, yet fair, realistic and fun endeavor that will not turn into an unmitigated obstruction to a young person’s dreams of realizing his or her particular goals and potential of becoming a college lacrosse player.
What is the “appropriate manner” you ask? In order to initially formulate an answer to that question, I have to honestly say that during the time that I have continued to effectively help the student-athletes confront the “Beast,” I have heard different interpretations of what the “appropriate manner,” actually entails. However, before I give you my opinion of what I believe the, “appropriate manner,” should be, hint, it involves knowing the difference between the perception of reality and what reality is, allow me to give you an example of one of the many situations that have I have experienced during my conversations with well intentioned lacrosse parents. The following discussion that I had was with a typical proud parent who asked me for my input in order to be able to help their son become a recruited lacrosse player.
No, I did not actually say that, but I wanted to, but by being so candid to a potentially full paying student family and being able to keep my employment would have probably been mutually exclusive at the time. So instead, my response was, “it is great that Tommy has a lot of passion for the game, lacrosse IS a fun game to play and a lot of wholesome life lessons can be learned on the playing field. In addition, striving to become a team player and making the necessary unselfish individual efforts and sacrifices in order for his team to able achieve their goals are all good attributes to have, which college coaches certainly appreciate.”
I would also say, “if Tommy is really as good as you say (do you have any video of him playing) he is, then, like a lot of other young lacrosse players for his age at this stage of his career, he has a certain base board ability with ceiling potential that he can keep building upon as he improves and develops his overall lacrosse fundamental skill sets, and you should be proud of him.” One other thing, how are his grades?
---- Hall of Fame Lacrosse Coach, National Clinician and Speaker, Ted Garber, will give his monthly insights, opinions and advice about the lacrosse recruiting process based upon his unprecedented experiences at the secondary, collegiate and professional levels of lacrosse.