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things to do...

to be ready...

for September 1st...

July 4, 2019

by Lisa Palmisano

Beside showcases and camps, there are some other ways you can get ready for September 1st. Every kid is different and will handle the opening day of communication differently.  Every kid's recruiting experience is also vastly different.  As the ball starts rolling for the class of 2021, I hope that the athletes will be able to celebrate the commitments of friends and encourage each other along the way instead of comparing their journey against another's which will not help anyone..  I truly believe that there's a place for every hard-working kid, but that place may not be what they/or their parents are gunning for.  You need to aim at the right target in order to hit it.   My husband and I also told our kids multiple times that it is ok if they did not want to play lacrosse in college (which always would make them irritated that we would suggest such blasphemy)  but to play lacrosse in college definitely needs to be something that the kid really wants to do. If an athlete truly desires to play at the next level, they have to keep an open mind and look at all the options: D1, D2 & D3.  Remember that your four years in college are just the beginning of your next 40 years!

So enough of my soapbox--to get ready for September 1st:

First, register with the NCAA eligibility center. You can click on the orange NCAA button (to the left on this article) and it will link you to the NCAA website.  You will need to have an NCAA eligibility # to take an official visit. It costs around $80 to sign up, but they do offer financial aid vouchers.  If your not a 2021 and you sign up, make sure you keep the eligibility number somewhere where you can find it when you need it.  You will also need to get a current transcript.  This is necessary for you to go on a visit and for the coach to see if you are at a place academically that fits the school.  An unofficial transcript is fine.  Most high schools have this online, but some do not.  Go ahead and have a pdf copy of your transcript

Be prepared with questions to ask the coach when they call. This is the time that the coach wants to get to know you and your chance to do the same. Don't ask questions about the school that you can find out on your own: i.e. how many students go to the university of X? You want to get to know the coach, you can ask them about their family, how they ended up coaching at the school?  What they like about living in 'X' city? and any question that is interesting or important to you.  If you think of something that you wish you had asked, write it down and ask it on your next call or email the question when you write a thank you email to the coach after your call.

Another parent and I made a list of possible questions (in case kids couldn't think of any) to ask the coach and also made a spreadsheet for the kids where they could write down what coaches said during the phone call so you don't forget anything important.  We sent the spreadsheet to all the 2020s in our club and to other 20s to help the kids be ready(See list of questions below).  The spreadsheet basically had these categories across the top -- each one had a column below to write in:

  • School
  • Name of Coach
  • Coach's phone #
  • invitation to official or unofficial dates details
  • Offer details (% amount)--very few offers will probably be made over the phone on Sept. 1st but if a coach does make an offer--be sure to write down what they tell you about the offer.
  • deadlines
  • WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING THAT YOU WANT TO KNOW THAT THE COACH SAID TO YOU OR THINGS THE COACH SAID THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (i.e. where you stand on their recruiting list; how many recruits they are hoping to get from the 2021 class; the coach's timeline on recruiting).
  • Things I forgot to ask questions that still need to be answered

Each of the categories was a column on a spreadsheet-- so the kids could write down what the coach told them on the call and not forget.  For instance, if a coach wanted them to choose from 3 dates to come visit, they need to write down those dates so they can discuss them with their parents and get back to the coach with an answer. 

They need to ask if a visit is official or unofficial.  An official visit can consist of the school paying for transportation (airfare for the student athlete, transport to/from the airport), meals, lodging, etc.  Schools can offer to pay for parent's lodging and meals, but only football and basketball are allowed to pay for transportation (airfare) for parents.  An unofficial visit is all on you (financially).  The athlete is still allowed to stay in the dorms on an unofficial, but must pay a "going rate" to the school for the stay. When my girls took unofficials their freshman year, we went to tailgates at several schools and had to "pay" for the food-typically $25.  The school is allowed to provide tickets to a sporting event on an unofficial visit--I think up to three tickets.

When the 2020s got phone calls last year, it was the first class of recruits that was allowed to take officials during their junior year.  In the past, official visits were only allowed during an athlete's senior year and since most athletes were committing by their sophomore or junior years or earlier, the official visits ended up becoming a time during the kid's senior year when the school would pay for all the commits to come visit together and get to know one another.  Now, for the 2020s and 2021s, etc, it will be different.  Some 20s didn't take officials visits last year and will still get to have the "official of old".  You are allowed to go on 5 official visits and can not take more than one official visit to the same school.  Unofficial visits are unlimited but can't begin until Sept. 1st of your Junior year which is when official visits also can begin.  Not every school has the budget for officials.  Some coaches still will want to save the official visit until the athlete's senior year so they can bring commits in together. Other schools will offer officials. Every school is different.  You can ask a coach if they can bring you on an official.  Some coaches left the choice up to the recruit whether they wanted to come on an official or unofficial.  Hopefully all that makes sense? There are a lot of rules. Coaches can explain them or they will put you in contact with the school's compliance department to explain the rules to you.  Bottom line is that eventually, I think most coaches will be offering officials if they have the funding. If you are asked to go visit a school on Sept. 8th, even if the college is in a hub and easy to get to, it costs a lot more to get planes tickets a week out.  If seniors commits go on planned unofficials, they can keep the costs down and have time to plan ahead.  After spending money for years on recruiting, it was a huge blessing to get to take official visits to the schools!

My girls talked on the phone to coaches many times on speaker phone together on September 1st. Our mentor in the process told the girls even if they were talking one-on-one to have the calls on speaker so that the parents would know what was going on.  She told them that parents won't say a word unless the coaches ask about them but it is good for them to hear what is happening.  This may not be your kids preference and if they are good communicators, then trust them.  If they will not relay well how the phone call went, then the advice from a former college coach for parents to hear the conversation is important. My kids did not sit at a table or in their room answering phone calls on Sept. 1st.  They went to a lax field after lunch to decompress and shoot and answered calls in the car twice.  In contrast, one of their friends did spend the entire day in her room filling out her spreadsheet and taking notes when the coaches called.  Several friends got some surprising calls from unexpected schools.  Some friends only had a few calls.  Some friends did not receive any calls.  The first email that one of my daughters received right at midnight from a great program that had been recruiting her since her freshman year told her that they would call her during the day.  She responded that she would look forward to talking to them and included her cell number and did not hear a word from that coach at all.  She could have reached out herself, but that was not her top school so she did not care to pursue them.  Once September 1st comes, you do not have to wait for coaches to call.  Athletes can pick up the phone and call a coach.The lines of communication are officially open.

The spirit behind moving the contact date to Sept. 1 was so that recruiting would "begin" on that date.  Several coaches actually approached it that way with the 2020s.  I would imagine that for the class of 2021, the coaches are not going to be in a rush or at least most will not rush the kids.  It's always good to ask the coach what their timeline is for completing their class. If you receive an offer, you need to ask when they would like an answer.  If the timeline you are given is too short, you can ask for more time.  If they can not give you more time, you will have a big choice to make.  There are thousands of girls in the class of 2021 who would like to play lacrosse in college.  If you are granted the opportunity to play and receive a scholarship, you are in the privileged few to have that opportunity.  However, if the school is not the right fit, do not accept an offer just because you are given one. A lot of kids go to the first school that offers them.  

I hope some of this information will help the 2021s to feel a bit prepared for the "day of communication".  The best piece of advice we were given during the recruiting craziness is to go where you are wanted!  I know some incredible kids who've walked on to programs to earn a spot.  One kid even became the team captain.  I know another kid who was offered to walk on to one of the top programs in the country and was told upfront that she may not play.  Some kids might like that challenge and the chance to be part of a top program.  This girl wanted to see the field and went where she was wanted and would contribute.  So do your homework and be prepared.  This is a special time--make the most of it.  The countdown is on...less than sixty days until the phones begin to ring! Enjoy the ride, it's only a short, surreal season.


My September 1, 2018 list of questions:

1 WEEK BEFORE 9/1-EMAIL YOUR TOP SCHOOLS: INCLUDE YOUR UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT & CELL #


* IF A COACH CALLS & YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED MAKE SURE YOU ARE HONEST!*

**TELL THEM RIGHT AWAY YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED BUT THANK THEM FOR THEIR TIME & INTEREST**


BE PREPARED TO ANSWER QUESTIONS THAT THE COACH MAY ASK YOU:


  • WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS/OBJECTIVE/REASONS YOU WANT TO PLAY LACROSSE IN COLLEGE?
  • BE SURE TO SHARE THE “WHY” YOU WANT TO PLAY LACROSSE IN COLLEGE & HOW YOU SEE THAT SCHOOL AS PART OF REACHING YOUR FUTURE GOALS!


HAVE QUESTIONS PREPARED TO ASK THE COACHES:


  • How would you describe your team culture?
  • What are the team’s goals this year & beyond?
  • Describe your coaching style/philosophy:
  • How many 2021 commits do you already have (this was more for 2020s but it is possible that some kids may commit on Sept. 1st and there are a handful of girls who did commit from the 2021 class before the rule change) --you can ask this in conjunction with--
  • How many 2021 commits are you looking for to fill your 2021 recruiting class? 
  • What positions are you looking to recruit and how many from each position?
  • Where do I rank among the 2021s who you are recruiting?
  • Do you help Student Athletes gain admission to the school?
  • What is the GPA needed to get in ? What SAT/ ACT score is acceptable?
  • How many student athletes who commit are unable to get in?
  • What is the Student Athlete Graduation Rate?
  • What is the women’s lacrosse team graduation rate?
  • What academic support is given to the athletes?
  • Are there any majors that you are not allowed to pursue?
  • What majors do the lacrosse players have?
  • Is there a program in place that helps athletes to network and find a job after graduation?
  • How do you see me contributing to your lacrosse program?
  • If the coach saw you play and told you that ask them if they have any notes on your play and advice to help me improve as a player?



***AFTER THE PHONE CALL, DON'T FORGET TO EMAIL OR TEXT THE COACH & THANK THEM FOR CALLING ***