We all wish we had more time. We live in a world of information overload and ever increasing demands on our families. We race from work to athletic events, hoping to capture quality time with our children as they grow older. Then we race back to work the next day trying to ready ourselves for the next rush to the field or the next tournament or show case.
As we do this , another race is gearing up around us. It is not a race for the faint of heart or the unprepared. It is a race packed with hypercompetitive families from across the country, who are all determined to gain a competitive edge. It is a race that has no specified start time, no boundaries or course, no rules, no officials, and certainly no helpers lining the course when you need assistance.
There is one one rule that applies to this race...every man for himself.
Not a race you want to enter ? Guess what - you and your son are already participants.
This ULTRA MARATHON is the recruiting race, and it is in full swing as we speak. Those who wait for the the perfect starting point, will lose valuable time.
"Too little, Too late" is not a refrain you want to apply to this situation.
I believe early in the Sophomore year is the best time to get active in the race. Trying to familiarize yourself with the process during the summer of the Junior year is a major mistake. This is ever more evident with the increased number of Sophomore DI commitments. This is not a tend that is going to abate...the landscape is changing before our eyes. I SUSPECT THAT IN SOME POINT IN THE NOT TO DISTANT FUTURE, WE WILL SEE AN ACCELERATION OF THE D3 TIME LINE AT THE UPPER TIER SCHOOLS.
Campus visits are one important aspect that you need to address. Taking campus visits is a critical part in determining the environment in which your son feels most comfortable. In many cases these visits afford you the opportunity to meet a particular coach and his staff. You should also try and schedule a visit with an admissions counselor and or a school representative to get a better sense of the catalogue of studies offered at the school.
Pick 10-12 schools based on your son's academic profile and perceived ability and create a grid of potential schools. The next thing to do is call the coach at each school and let them know you are visiting on a certain date and ask if he or a member of his staff can spend a few minutes with your son before you tour the school.
Best case scenario, you will have the opportunity to actually attend a practice or a game.
One of my responsibilities when hired by a family, is to help make sense of what schools to actually focus on. It is no easy task for any family to make this determination when looking at all the schools that offer slots for lacrosse players. As always, the focus should be the academics....lacrosse should be a secondary consideration. If positioned properly, your lacrosse skills can be an entre to a great school .
I have the advantage of being able to suggest certain schools based on my experience when considering the academic and athletic profile of a potential recruit. Often times, the hardest part of my job is telling a recruit that he is not likely to be recruited by a certain school[s] , either because of a lack of athletic ability or his academic profile. I believe that it is better to join this race with a realistic goal in mind. It is not often that I am wrong about the upside of a potential recruit as it relates to specific schools.
I try to be pragmatic, rather than perpetuating unrealistic assumptions about where a player is likely to generate recruiting interest. I SUGGEST specific schools based on a grid that I have created. I have participated in this race time and time again over the last ten years.
I also encourage the player to take responsibility for the subsequent steps to follow. The sooner the student athlete accepts the fact that this process is about his future, the sooner he will come to the conclusion that dedication in the class room will dramatically effect the choice of schools he can put on his grid. Coming to this conclusion during the Junior year may not afford the student enough time to develop the habits he needs to raise his academic profile.
Too little, too late in the class room is an unfortunate refrain.
There are no second chances in any race. Your status at the finish line is a direct function of how early you started serious training with a specific goal in mind. Don't make the mistake of watching the race pass you by. Enter it with the confidence that you are well prepared and have time to adjust your strategy if the unexpected occurs.
One thing I can assure you... the recruiting race is all about expecting the unexpected