It’s awe-inspiring how much the recruiting process has evolved for high school lacrosse players. Players today have an entirely different high school lacrosse experience because of the demands of the recruiting process. It is not uncommon that players play as much lacrosse in the off-seasons as they do for their high school team in-season.
They travel and compete on club teams in the off-season akin to the model that club soccer has established. Coaches seek out and recruit younger an younger talent similar to college basketball recruiting. As a result, players are forced to start the process much earlier in their high school career and make big decisions at a younger age.
Blue Chip Recruits are committing to big time D1 programs before their junior year, and sometimes as early as during their sophomore year. “What?!! They aren’t even half way through high school!” (that was me when I first hear that a couple of kids committed to a program in November of their sophomore years).
It’s funny: Old high school football movies, the ones that depict athletes in their last months of high school struggling with what college to choose, are now completely irrelevant to blue chip laxers who make that decision at a much younger age. For example, this classic with a star studded cast:
The movie tagline reads: It’s recruiting time and despite being short and scrawny, Johny Walker is America’s hottest young football prospect. His dilemma: should he take one of the many offers from college talent scouts or should he attend the local state college with his girlfriend and give up his football career?” Starring Anthony Michael Hall, Uma Thurman, Robert Downey Jr. and Paul Gleeson.
At Empower the Athlete, we sometimes grapple with the implications of this advanced recruiting process, because so much about choosing a college revolves around the aspects of the college experience off the field. We laugh at one another when we remind each other what we were like when we were 15 and 16 years old, and how well equipped we were to make serious decisions about our futures. Players at that age today are making that tough decision, and a lot of them are making an informed and well thought out choice.
In college counseling, one of the sayings that is often thrown around is “college is not a 4 year decision, it’s a 40 year decision.” Coaches are asking kids who don’t even have their driver’s license things like “do you prefer an urban setting, or a suburban one like ours where you can have your car on campus?”
I feel pressure when Verizon makes me sign up for a long term cell phone contract, because while I like Verizon today, I don’t know if it will be the best fit for me 3 years down the road. So, I can only imagine what the anxiety is like for today’s blue chip players (and remember: non athletes start the college process in the spring of their junior year).
I’m not saying it’s bad for kids to commit at a young age. There is a huge benefit to having the weight of the college search process lifted from their shoulders for the rest of their high school career. Kids just need to make informed decisions, and that means thinking about what they want in a college when they start high school.
Indeed it’s awe inspiring how much the recruiting process has evolved. But what is even more impressive is how the level of competition at the collegiate level has evolved. Top to bottom; from Division 1 to Division 2 and MCLA.
Shouldn’t we give these kids some credit? You always hear older generations hate on the current generations. It’s all become a cliche: “we had it so much tougher”, “kids are softer these days”, “the game isn’t as physical”, “the game isn’t as fast” etc, etc.
Take this moment to put high school lacrosse into perspective. Not only are these kids constantly involved in a more intense level of play, but they are also forced to make serious decisions at a younger age, forcing them to grow up and mature faster. Their performance on the field and in the classroom in 9th and 10th grade has implications on their future more so than ever before. So, this holiday season, I’d like to give a pat on the back to current high school players, keep it up, it’s fun to watch.