An Inside Look At Lacrosse Recruiting Camps
Editor’s Note: Please welcome Sean Furber to LaxAllStars.com! Sean runs Lightning Lacrosse, a proud LAS sponsor, and he’s here to fill you in on the differences between Boys and Girls recruiting camps. Sean has a lot to say about recruiting camps, so listen up. Learn from someone on the inside!
Before we get started, I think it’s important that we define what a recruiting camp really is, or at least what it should be. The phrase, “accept no imitations” is a fair statement in the recruiting camp world, as we’ve all been witness to some that smell like a recruiting camp, but upon further investigation, have that fake plant look and feel.
How Can You Tell If A Lacrosse Camp Is Really A “Recruiting Camp”?
1. A recommendation from a high school or club coach is required to be admitted.
As recruiting camps, college lacrosse coaches attend with the intent to evaluate players/potential recruits. A recommendation requirement keeps the talent level high and serves a “filter”, so that the best talent is being showcased.
2. Many college lacrosse coaches from multiple divisions will be in attendance.
This sounds like an obvious aspect of the experience, but sometimes prospective campers are fooled by seeing just a few names on a list. Being guaranteed to play in front of an array of college coaches is very important.
Differences Between Boys and Girls Recruiting Camps
The most obvious difference between boys and girls recruiting camps has more to do with quantity than quality. As it stands now, boys lacrosse players have a far greater number of recruiting camp options than the girls.
For boys, there are a variety of camps in the Mid-atlantic, New England, The South, Midwest, and out West. In many cases, these camps have been operating for years. The camps in the Mid-atlantic and New England have become so popular that many camps are now offering specific grade recruiting camps (like Super Sophs) and further, some are now designated as top tier DI camps, or camps designed more for the DIII athlete.
Meanwhile, the sheer number of camp choices for girls is limited. This makes doing research a little less daunting for a girl player and her parents. Almost every girls camp I have come across is well organized, well attended, and well respected in the coaching community. One thing the girls recruiting camps do really well: collecting thorough player academic info (SAT, Grades, etc…) to accompany player on field achievements so that coaches get a well rounded profile of each athlete.
Another aspect of these girls camps that makes them effective is the inherent teaching component. Most college coaches who attend girls recruiting camps actually do some 1 on 1 coaching while they are in attendance. This helps the coach get a sense of a player’s true “coachability” (i.e. can they handle constructive criticism?). This is a big difference worth noting as many boys recruiting camps are much more focused on just seeing the player play. Boys recruiters trapse the sideline looking a jersey numbers and taking notes, keeping their distance from most players unless they are truly interested.
With boys recruiting camps being a bit more “hands off” you would think they would adopt the “arm band” rule often found at girls camps. This rule requires a committed player at a camp to wear an arm band so that college coaches know the player has made a verbal commitment to another school (whether they should commit that early is an entirely different article!).
When it comes to determining which camp(s) to attend, the best advice I can give to both boys and girls lacrosse players is to make sure to go to ones where the schools you’re interested in are guaranteed to be there. Also, the smaller, the better. A more intimate camp will lead to more exposure.
The Future of Girls Recruiting Camps
Girls, and parents of girls, should pay attention to the current boys recruiting camp trends as it will look very similar for them in a few years. On the girls side right now, there are a few different approaches currently being used:
1) Separation of Age
There are girls recruiting camps in the Mid-Atlantic that have separate sessions based on grades (Maximum Exposure). Maximum Exposure camps are run by the Marland and Loyola women’s programs, two of the premier programs in the country. They have offered these camps now for several summers, have solid representation from DI, DII, and DIII schools and prospective players, and have a great reputation.
2) Invitation Only
The Northstar Invitational, which is run by Womenslax.com (USC and Northwestern), invites the top players in the nation to come to Lake Placid in July to showcase their skills in front of the best NCAA Division I programs in the nation. It is following the Jake Reed model of inviting just the top tier high school players and DI coaches. Northwestern is the premier girls program in the country, and although USC’s program is still in it’s infancy, they have the infrastructure (coaches/weather/campus) to become very good very quickly. With these programs spearheading the invitational model, it should be successful for years to come.
3) College Coaches as Camp Coaches
At Lightning Lacrosse, we run Elite Recruiting Camps that cater to the growth of girls lacrosse in the NON-hotbed areas of the country. We offer 5 regional recruiting locations (West – Colorado, Southwest – Texas, Southeast – Florida, Midwest – Michigan, and Mid-Atlantic – Pennsylvania), and each of the locations have over 17 colleges/universities attending catering mostly to the middle tier DI, the competitive DIII/DII athlete, and select competitive club programs.
At our lacrosse camps, these college coaches are in charge of coaching the players at the camps, while also evaluating their talents. The camps feature a free recruiting seminar for parents and players to help educate everyone on the newest NCAA rules, tips in the recruiting process, and what coaches look for in an attractive recruit. The camps also feature speed/agility testing.
If the parents are looking at the men’s recruiting camps as a barometer for what to expect at girls, that might be a good idea, but girls should not assume they will experience the same camp organization and coaching structure. The interactive nature of college coaching at girls camps is a step up from what many boys recruiting camps offer.
The Best Approach For Boys and Girls
With so many lacrosse recruiting camps throughout the country, there are some fantastic options out there for both girls and boys players. All players can make their recruiting camp experience better with some solid outreach to college coaches who will be in attendance prior to the event. This helps the coaches learn about you ahead of time, and they’ll surely pay closer attention to you at camp.
As many coaches and industry leaders have stated, you don’t go to a lacrosse camp to get recruited, instead you use the camp as an opportunity to showcase your skills to coaches who already have a beat on you.
About the author: Sean Furber is the owner of Lightning Lacrosse, a national leader in boys and girls skills and recruiting camps. Started in 2007, Lightning Lacrosse has partnered with coaches at some of the best college programs in the nation (Duke, Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Denver, Navy, Virginia, Georgetown, Loyola, Syracuse) to offer top tier boys and girls skills camps across the country. They also run Lightning Lacrosse Elite recruiting camps, 5 regional girls recruiting events catering to the emerging areas of the country.
Sean will be writing additional articles in the near future. Topics include new college girls lacrosse programs, the growth of girls lacrosse in the Midwest/Southwest/Southeast, and the recruiting challenges facing new small college programs.
Got a different perspective to share about lacrosse recruiting camps? Drop a comment below! We’ll make sure Sean sees it.