Bill Pilat: The Roanoke College Recruiting Process
Editor’s note: Our partners at ConnectLAX recently had the chance to sit down with longtime Roanoke College head coach Bill Pilat. Currently in his 29th season on the sidelines with the Maroons, Bill Pilat is one of the most respected men’s lacrosse coaches in the NCAA.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”2″]
Bill Pilat, Roanoke College
ConnectLAX: What do college coaches look for in a recruit?
Bill Pilat: Here at Roanoke, what we look for in a recruit is, first of all, strong academic student. We need somebody that can get into our school and do the work that’s required to remain a top college student. Next, we look for someone who works hard, coaches’ recommendations obviously play a big part in that.
We also look for a recruit that has the skills that’s needed to be out there on the field. As we play at the upper college levels, the number one thing in my opinion for our program is speed. A recruit has to be quick, whether you’re a defenseman, attackman, midfielder, you have to have speed to get up and down the field to keep up with the other college athletes.
The next thing we look for is stick skills. Obviously if we’re attacking midfield, you need lefty/righty skills, shooting skills. For a defenseman, you need skills to clear the ball, get the ball moving up the field.
For goalies, number one thing we look for is shot stopping ability and directing the defense and clearing the ball. Those are the main things we look for in our recruits.
What type of player best fits the college game?
The type of player that best fits our program here at Roanoke is a player who likes to play fast, a player on offense that likes to push the tempo and push the ball to the goal, who likes being aggressive when going to the goal, with a team-first attitude, moving the ball, dodging with your head up, that kind of thing.
Defensively, we like players that are aggressive defensively, on ball aggressive, sliding aggressive, willing to take the action to the offensive player.
Goalies, we look for goalies that can stop the ball and lead our defense and play a goal team-oriented defensive system.
What is the best way for players to get noticed?
The best way for players to get on the recruiting radar here at Roanoke is to attend different showcases and combines, specifically the ones that we host because we’re at every event that we host so we can see those players play.
We travel around the country to other showcases, other events, so that’s another good way for us to see you play. Also, emails are fine, but we ask that players submit a video of them playing so we can watch them on video so that we can make some type of evaluation.
What areas should recruits be focusing on to improve?
The areas of player development that recruits should focus on if they want to succeed at Roanoke or at the college level is first and foremost, they need to be in shape. Players need to get their physical conditioning, be in the best physical shape they can be in so they can compete at a high level. Also, they need to work on their stick skills. We use a wall ball routine, especially for our attack and midfielders, where you can have equal stick skills lefty and righty.
The other thing for defensemen, the thing they really need to work on, especially at the high school level, is footwork. We stress that quite a bit, where you can keep up with the person that you’re defending, keep your footwork so he can play great defense one on one. Every player, no matter the position, needs to work on their knowledge of the game, knowledge of their position, knowledge of their individual position, what they can do to help their team, and team knowledge.
Defensively, slides, defensive packages. Offensively, the two man game, team offense, transition offense. So to be a student of the game, that would definitely help any player no matter the position so they can participate in college.
What is some recruiting advice for parents and players?
One of the most common recruiting mistakes that players and parents make is sending information to a college coach that really doesn’t help that coach make a decision on the prospect. What I mean by that is, a simple email without a video is really of not much use to a college coach, unless its informational in nature and the coach has already seen you play. If we get an email here at Roanoke and there’s no video attached, we’re really just looking at information that doesn’t help us tremendously to help us learn about that player. I think video is number one to send to a college coach.
The other mistake players make is looking at too many colleges. As a player, I think the high school player should decide what type of school they want to go to, big or small, south, north, east, west, what type of majors do they have. That’s gonna narrow the search down. Then you can start to talk to the coaches at the schools that have the programs you want instead of blindly looking at schools because they have a good team, because they have a nice uniform.
Look at the education, look at the location, look at the size of the school. That’s gonna narrow your focus down so you’re not wasting your time or the coach’s time.
What should a recruit include in an email to you?
For recruits that have videos to send to coaches, I think a couple things can help. First off, the coach doesn’t have a whole lot of time to watch the video. So if you send a full game, it’s really hard for the coaches, especially here at Roanoke, for us to watch a full hour game of you playing. If you send a full game video, it’s very helpful to mark the times when you’re performing at your best so the coach can fast forward and see the clips that you want him to see. Highlight videos are great. I would say five to six minutes in length is probably pretty good. Any longer than that, it gets a little repetitive.
Another thing in highlight videos, it’s always good to finish the play. If we see a player and he’s dodging and he takes a shot, we want to see does the shot go in? Is there a rebound? What happens after that, does the player hustle to get back on defense? Does the player congratulate his teammates after a goal? Those things are important. Coaches look at all those little things.
If you’re a defensive player, if you make a good check and put the ball on the ground, do you go and pick the ball up? Do you help in the ground ball fight? Do you help on the clear? If you can extend the highlight videos just little bit, I think that’ll help you to get a better video.