A post for those girls younger than 2021. 

June 28, 2019

BY Lisa P. 

Playing Division 1 lacrosse was a dream for my daughters that began in 6th grade.  Who doesn’t want to encourage and help their kids to achieve their dream? In the recruiting process—there are a lot of things that are out of your hands.  One of the biggest factors is simply that your kid has to love their sport and want to put in the hard work or the dream of playing lacrosse in college won’t happen.  You can’t make your kids work hard—that has to come from them.  You can encourage, guide, and find out as much as you can about the ins and outs of the recruiting process which will help to hopefully open up opportunities for your child to see their hard work pay off. 

When my girls were young, I was always looking for someone to help them improve and develop as lacrosse players. Although as a 11-year-old kid, they probably had no concept of how special it was when the got to learn first hand and spend time with a native American, Hall of Fame, legend from Syracuse. Ron Hill helped to deepen the love of the game for my kids.  Ron taught the girls to catch and throw and showed them his wall ball routine.  I always hear his voice in my head saying “Catching & Passing” anytime I watch lacrosse and see a bad pass or ball dropped. Ron imparted his wisdom and love of the game to my girls which helped to establish an awesome foundation for my kids.  

Goal one—build a foundation and love of the game!

Another important component in my girls’ journey of recruitment came when my kids tried out and did not make a team.  I aways encourage kids to try out—it’s a great experience, opportunity and provides a good measure of where your kid stands among their peers.  This was the first big tryout that my girls had done. There were over 100 girls from 7th-9th grade trying out for 22 spots.  Watching the tryouts, my husband and I knew our girls had a lot to work on.  The girls were the youngest age there and came away from the tryout wanting to work hard to get to the level of the older, more talented girls who they tried out against.  Not making that team was one of the best things to happen to my kids because it fueled their fire to work hard so they could try out again.  

Goal two—learn that hard work is essential to go further and get better.

After putting in lots of time on the wall, working in the backyard and doing some exercises to get a little stronger and a little faster the girls made that regional team the following year.  Then, my kids had to decide whether they would continue to play for a big club or stay with a smaller club locally.  It was a big and hard decision for them and at that time ended up being one of the best choices we could make.  The girls chose the smaller club which was well coached, had some great athletes, traveled to some big tournaments, but most importantly had a blast playing lacrosse together.  The Orange Crush from Florida was the epitome of an underdog team.  The coach’s wife often told him that his players would run through a brick wall for him.  Staying on that small team proved to be an opportunity for my girls to step up and lead and just have a blast playing lacrosse.  They won a big tournament in Colorado and it was actually the first time a college coach noticed the girls.

Goal three—work hard but remember to have FUN!

After that fun summer, the girls started high school. They made a highlight video from their summer tournaments and emailed it to several coaches.  The highlight video was an important part of recruiting for my kids being from a non-traditional lacrosse state.  Coaches apparently liked what they saw and a few started calling the girl’s club coach.  The club coach used to be a go-between—the college coaches would contact him and then tell him a time for the girls to call.  

Goal four—be proactive.  You need to communicate your interest and get “Seen”.

My girls learned a lot as 14-year-olds calling coaches.  They had several awkward phone calls and had to grow in the art of conversation.  Every coach they talked to was fabulous. They invited the girls to come on unofficial visits.  The fall of the girls freshman year, they visited two schools.  That winter they attended two camps. After the camps, the girls took another unofficial visit out west.  It was such a blast.  We got snowed in, spent tons of time with the amazing coaches who were super fun, wonderful people and the girls got their first offer.  If that school had not been so far from home, it is highly likely that the girls would have committed as freshman.  Thankfully, the coach encouraged them not only to take their time but to look at other schools so that they would see what was out there and feel confident when they decided to commit.  Over spring break, the girls went to visit 4 schools in 5 days and received 3 more offers.  One of my daughters felt like she might be ready to commit after those visits.  The other had no idea what she wanted in a college and as a freshman in high school did not feel ready to make that choice.

Goal five—Choose wisely. Do not rush or hurry a decision. Take your time & see everything.

Within three weeks of those visits, the NCAA changed the recruiting rules for men and women’s lacrosse.  We knew the rule change was a possibility but it was actually very surprising when the rule was made effective immediately.  The change did not initially go over too well with our kids nor with us.  We’d invested 9 months getting to know coaches and visiting schools to have everything shut down for 18 more months.  Looking back, it was perfect timing and we’re so grateful that the girls were not rushed to decide. The rule change was a huge blessing to our family in many ways.  Initially, It was not an easy change.  Having been on both sides, personally, I think that several things need to be tweaked as far as the communication goes to help prevent the fall of a kid’s junior year from being too chaotic.

Our family moved  twice during the girl’s sophomore year.  Since they couldn’t talk to coaches and with the upheaval in the life of a 15-year-old leaving life long friends going to a new place and new school, the recruiting part of lacrosse completely went on the back burner for my kids. They needed time to adjust to their new high school, club team, etc.  without trying to figure out what college that they wanted to go to. They still sent out their emails and made some highlight videos, but they didn’t really think too much or put much effort into the recruiting process their sophomore year.  There were recruiting questionnaires sent to their old address and never filled out. Camps that they ended up not going to. But in the end, everything worked out the way it was meant to!

Goal six—Enjoy high school. You only get to be 15 once.

The girl’s new club team was made up of a lot of great players.  The coaches were fantastic and very invested in helping the girls pursue their dreams to play in college.  The director of their club, John McClain, loves lacrosse and has an unparalleled passion for the game, hard work and helping the Florida girls make their mark on the national lacrosse scene.

Being on a team full of talented, hard working, invested girls was a blast.  Their club team, Florida Select 2020s, went undefeated in the fall and more and more coaches started coming to watch the girls from Florida play their hearts out every game.  When you don’t get much respect , You play with a chip and a passion to prove the naysayers wrong. This elite club team was extremely passionate, played well together and just was super fun to watch!  They always left it all on the field!

Goal seven—Find the right team before you are a junior. It will make a big difference at the showcases. 

Fast forward to September 1st of the girls’ junior year. At midnight, the texts and emails rolled in.  All of the coaches pursuing my kids kindly waited until the morning to call, but several of their friends had coaches call at midnight. One coach made the trip to visit the girls in person the morning of September 1st.  It was extremely flattering to have a coach make that effort.  Most of the day was spent answering phone calls—although my girls did take time to get away from the craziness  for a while to go to a field and shoot with a good friend. September first ended on a high note with a super fun FaceTime from some coaches the girls didn’t know—they were amazing for the girls to talk to, were hilarious and so personable and they asked to say hi to mom and dad-which was nice.  Kids need to take time to talk to the coaches because they are wonderful people and maybe a player will have an opportunity to visit a school that they hadn’t really honed in on. So as the phone call madness died down, within  6 days, the girls were off on their first official visit. The visits of September caused them to miss a 1 or 2 days of school every week as they tried to arrange most in conjunction with the weekend, they also missed so much of their fall sports that they did not get to compete.  It was a fun, yet an exhausting month with the finish line of the recruiting marathon for the 2020 class finally in site.  In three weeks, the girls had gone on 4 of their 5 official visits.  They had to make a choice to walk away from an offer to a great school because of a short timeline. After 2 years of wading through the recruiting process, we felt strongly that the girls were not going to rush the process and good things are worth waiting for.  By the time their 4th visit rolled round, we told the girls that if they were ready and felt sure about a school that they could commit, and if they weren’t sold after this  visit on any of their top schools then they could pick one more official visit and possibly go on some unofficial visits if need be. Thankfully, they’d saved the best for last!

Goal eight—choose your visits wisely.  Go visit the school when other recruits are there. Stay with the team.  Attend a class and eat in the cafeteria. 

The last school they visited won them over!!  They loved the campus and the academics.  They loved the team and the other recruits who were visiting, and the coaches were awesome.  The girls had liked the other schools that they had visited but the University of Denver was as the “One”!  Once they had committed, they had to call the coaches from the other schools to tell them that they had chosen Denver. The girls had good relationships with several coaches who had been recruiting them for two years. Calling the coaches to let them know that they had chosen another school was one of the hardest things that my kids had ever done.  After calling the last school that was in close contention, one of my girls  felt devastated to have disappointed that coach. After the call, that coach sent her an incredible text telling her  that she would always be her number one fan and would be there if she needed anything which was the classiest, most professional and kindest gesture ever! Those words are something we will treasure and never forget!

Goal nine—build relationships. During recruiting, the relationships are the best part!

So after a long journey, my girls both found a school that they can’t wait to get to. They loved it.  They got the “feeling “! We loved it and completely trust the coaches with our kids!!  We’re thrilled with the final ending to the recruiting story. 

Finding the right school was a process that we could not have made it sanely through without the help of the girls’ club coaches, the parents from our club who supported one another, other wonderful lacrosse parents who’d been through it all and encouraged us and offered advice. The biggest help came from the guidance of an incredible friend & former college coach, Crysti Foote, who was invaluable in the recruiting process.  She knew all the ins & outs of how things work.  Every school recruits and has different ways they do things. It can be an overwhelming and confusing process.  Crysti  kept me calm and she gave excellent advice.  She was the rudder to the ship that felt like it was drifting aimlessly at times.  If you can find someone with the inside scoop to guide you along the way—it will be invaluable.

Goal ten—find a friend/mentor whose walked the road before you.

Dreams do come true, but it is not often an easy journey to get there.  My girls achieved their first goal—to get recruited to a great school. Now the hard work amps up for them to achieve their next goal—a National Championship. And so, a new journey begins…