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From the Trenches

1 Post tagged with the dartmouth tag

John's Story

Posted by saraallent Mar 4, 2008

Dartmouth College '01 - Men's Lacrosse

I remember my recruiting period as being a total blast. I was behind the ball in getting to know colleges and gathering an idea of where’d I’d like to go to school. So through recruiting camps, and receiving letters from different colleges, it opened up a whole world of colleges I had never thought of.


My recruiting process began by mailing out letters and resumes to the coaches of the schools I was initially interested in my junior spring. I was pretty certain I wanted to attend a bigger school in an urban atmosphere. After a few weeks of correspondence and speaking with different coaches that summer, I had a sizeable list of schools where both I and the coach there shared a mutual interest. As a recruit you’re only allowed five official visits to D-I schools, so I had to make some early choices.


Initially, my list included schools of every size and shape, from Washington College to the Naval Academy. I had a wide range of choices. I quickly narrowed down my choices to three schools, Boston College, Dartmouth College, and Brown University. Though Dartmouth College didn’t fit my initial criteria, it was recommended to me by one of my high school coaches whom I had a lot of respect for, so I figured I would at least explore the idea.


My interest in Boston College stemmed from the fact that my older brother had played there. I had already spent a lot of time there and didn’t really need to take an official recruiting trip. I had essentially been taking recruiting trips there since I was 14. I knew what the school was about and knew I would really like it there.


The only two official visits I took were to Brown University and Dartmouth College, on consecutive weekends my senior fall, and I couldn’t have visited two schools that were more different from each other. I enjoyed my weekend at Brown University. I got along great with the coaching staff, was really impressed by the athletic and academic facilities, and definitely felt like I could have gone there. However, the one catch was that socially, I didn’t really click with anyone I met there outside of the lacrosse team. I came away weighing the pros and cons – it was a top caliber lacrosse program, but would I enjoy my time there off the lacrosse field?


The following week I traveled to Hanover to visit Dartmouth College – small school, remote, and not anywhere near anything resembling a city. I figured there was no chance this school was for me, but I figured, “What the heck? At least it will be a weekend away from home.” My first impressions were that it was one of the most beautifully classic campuses I had ever seen. It was small, pastoral, with the central green surrounded by the old brick and tin roof buildings, and the clock tower crowning the far end of the green. It also didn’t hurt that it was the peak of the fall foliage season.


I met with the coaches after my arrival and got a tour of the athletic facilities. Right off the bat, I knew that the head coach and I would never have a great relationship – his style of coaching was very different from the style I best responded to. On top of that, the facilities at Dartmouth College at the time were pretty poor, especially next to those at Brown University and Boston College. My first afternoon there didn’t do much to change my initial lack of interest in the school. I then spent the weekend with some guys from the team, and I was immediately struck at how happy everyone was at this school. The more I spoke with people, both athletes and non-athletes; I was amazed how almost no one had a bad thing to say about their experiences there. And the more time I spent in social settings there, the more comfortable I was with the people around me, especially compared to my time at Brown University.


I spent a weekend at Dartmouth College and came away with essentially the opposite impression of my time at Brown University – I wasn’t thrilled with the athletic side of the college, but I was enamored by the academic and social structures.


Now came the hard part – the decision. Generally, college coaches will require a commitment from you before they will take your name through the admissions process. Both of the staffs at Brown University and Dartmouth College were pretty clear, I wasn’t being admitted without committing to play. I was offered an academic scholarship by Boston College, so I knew I was in there. I agonized for a week over my choices, pouring over each college’s information package, plowing through college selection books. I was trying to find a very hard, quantifiable reason why I should choose one over the other.


Each had something I liked, as well as things I didn’t like. I loved that Boston College was in a big city with a big time sports program and was offering me a full academic ride, but I felt compelled to get out from under my brother’s shadow and blaze my own path. I loved the lacrosse program at Brown University and its campus in Providence. At Dartmouth College, I knew I’d love my time there socially and in classes, but was not excited to play in a lacrosse program with those facilities and a coach I had a bad feeling about.


In the end, I made probably the most mature decision I’ve ever made. In a moment of unexpected clarity, I simply asked myself, “If I get hurt and cannot continue to play lacrosse, where will I be happiest?” When I looked at it from this angle, it was such a simple decision for me. Against my initial requirements of a bigger school in a big city, I chose the small, rural college in New Hampshire. For once, I put my academics ahead of my athletics. It was the best decision I ever made. As fate would have it, I ended up sustaining a career ending injury my sophomore year and I loved every single day I spent on that campus for four years.


My Advice:


  • Be on your best behavior at all times. College coaches are just as concerned about who you are off the field as on. I received a letter from one coach, essentially terminating their interest in me. I later found out it was because they saw me slam my stick on the ground in frustration during a game. There are so many athletes out there these days that coaches are looking for reasons to cross you off their list.

  • Don’t pigeonhole yourself to one type of school. What you’re interested in as a sophomore or junior in high school can quickly change as you mature.

  • Don’t choose a school based solely on the sport you play. If suddenly you can’t play anymore, you sure don’t want to be stuck at a school you can’t stand outside of your sport.

  • If you are really interested in a school, but are not hearing from the coach, don’t give up. Coaches love players that are persistent and show a real interest and determination to play for their program.

  • Lastly, don’t play one sport in high school. Collegiate coaches want athletes, not specialists.








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