College lacrosse recruiting can be overwhelming, especially when you’re not American.
When I was going through my college lacrosse recruitment, I didn’t know much. I was a Canadian kid who didn’t grow up with the American college sports system surrounding me. I didn’t know how it worked. I was flying blind.
I know I wasn’t alone, and it happens plenty still today. And it’s not restricted to non-Americans, too. If you’re American but don’t have anyone to walk you through how it works, you have a higher chance of being manipulated or misled into making decisions you don’t truly want.
It worked out well for me – I couldn’t have had a better experience at Denver University. The city has had thousands of Canadians come through as athletes, there is a healthy Canadian community, I already had friends who played hockey and lacrosse there, and I fit in extremely well with the people and culture I met. But that was more luck than due diligence.
Now, after playing the game on this side of the border for so many years, hearing a wide range of stories and coaching, I know how college lacrosse recruiting operates. It’s crucial for any young player with an aim of playing college lacrosse to understand a key factor of the process – it’s a business.
It may not seem like a business. It’s lacrosse. You’ve played it forever, you do it with friends, and you love it. But the reality is, if you’re going to play high-level lacrosse after high school, you will enter a professional world. There’s a lot on the line for these programs, including money, and that affects how recruitment works.
I have known many stories of coaches offering scholarships, but putting a deadline on it, explaining that if the player doesn’t sign within an allotted time, the invitation will disappear. The pressure to commit and commit quickly can be overwhelming, and that’s intentional. Some coaches will tell recruits things in an effort to get their signature, even if that includes misleading or fudging the truth. The truth is, if a school really wants you, it’ll make it happen.
It’s a business negotiation, and if you see it from that perspective, you’ll be better equipped to handle what coaches throw at you and know how to bargain yourself. If you get a half scholarship from one school but another is offering a full ride, you can leverage that. It’s a game. Remember that.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the ride, too. College lacrosse recruiting happens once in your life. It can be a whirlwind of information, faces, promises and decisions that you don’t feel prepared or equipped to make, but it is also a celebration of the hard work you have put in over the course of years to be in this position. Take your time. Visit tons of schools. Field tons of calls. Explore your options, and have fun with it. It is truly an exciting time. Don’t let the stress and unknown variables cloud your mind.
College lacrosse recruiting isn’t a perfect science, and I can’t tell you where is right for you. That’s for you and your family to decide. But what I can tell you is that unless you really feel like you have absolutely found a home, committing early is not necessary. Unless there’s an NCAA deadline or rule, there are no deadlines or rules. Do what’s best for you, not what’s best for a random coach. Take a deep breath, do your research, and spend a moment to bask in being the pretty girl at the ball. You deserve it.
BONUS TIP: if you’re not American and getting recruited for college lacrosse, make sure the school is well prepared to handle you. DU had a strong history of Canadians, but there was still a time when I couldn’t sign up for classes because my visa wasn’t fully through, and it was quite the ordeal. I got through it, and Denver was a big help with that, but maybe a different school wouldn’t have been. Remember, not only will you be leaving home, but you’ll be entering a strange country, too. You will have a lot of issues doing that successfully without a positive support system around you.