For nearly as long as I can remember I have been participating in sports. I grew up playing baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, tennis and hockey in various leagues in the St. Louis area and continued doing so after moving to Virginia. In middle school I no longer had time to keep up with all of them and focused on soccer and baseball, my stronger two sports. In high school, playing on the Virginia Olympic Development Team, club team, high school team and traveling for all of them became too much, thus baseball fell by the wayside.
I traveled around the United States and even Europe a few times for various soccer tournaments and showcases so adjusted quickly to seeing the sidelines not only covered with parents, but with numerous recruiters as well. While it was certainly nerve-racking and intimidating at first, it soon gave me extra motivation to perform my best every time I stepped on the pitch. Soon after that I started receiving letters from various D-1, D-2 and D-3 schools up and down the east coast. At first I just collected the letters since I hadn't yet started thinking about college.
When I started looking into schools, I considered colleges completely independent of soccer since I knew that I didn't want to attend a school solely based on that. I listed out my prospects and those that I had also heard from for soccer were then moved to the top of my list. I did not immediately dismiss schools that didn't fit both criteria, but eventually narrowed it down to three which did: University of Richmond, University of Kentucky and University of Notre Dame. That's when the real work started.
I went on visits to each school, touring the campus, meeting with coaches, experiencing the lifestyle, and talking with current students and players. After those visits, I was slightly leaning toward University of Kentucky and University of Richmond, but I still couldn't decide. I then turned to my parents for advice, and although they didn't push me toward one, I soon realized my choice. After all the money, time and travel they had put into my 15 years of soccer, I wanted to give them a chance to see it had paid off. They were my biggest fans and never wanted to miss a game. That was the slight edge that put University of Richmond over the top.
Don't limit your choices to colleges only for your sport.
Consider anything and everything since little things may ultimately help you decide.
Be honest and open with players you stay with and meet. They will often give you honest advice since they have gone through the same process.
Talk with the coaches about academics. You'll get an idea of how they feel about classes and how much they will support you academically.
Consider how you fit in with and like the players and coaches. You will spend an enormous amount of time with them.
Playing field hockey on the D-1 level was always a lifelong dream of mine since before I can remember. Obviously at such a young age, college athletics seemed to be in the distant future, but even so I knew that it was definitely a passion that I wanted to pursue. Throughout middle school, field hockey and other sports seemed to be a mere after school activity where I could get together with friends, socialize and have fun while playing sports. As I participated in numerous camps, clinics, travel and indoor teams, my athletic career became more serious and I started to focus my attention on my success in field hockey.
I remember the summer before my freshmen year of high school like it was yesterday. While majority of my friends were traveling, enjoying their summer break as most kids do, my summer was a bit different. I was determined to not only make the high school team, but I wanted to make the varsity team as a freshmen. With endless encouragement from my parents and family members, I spent that summer preparing myself mentally and physically for the dreaded field hockey pre-season. So I trained every day with older girls who I knew on the high school team as well as with my father who has been a huge factor in my success in achieving my goals as a student athlete. When I opened the letter after three weeks of tryouts in the grueling August heat, I was ecstatic when I read Congratulations Tara, you are a member of Villa Maria Academy Varsity Field Hockey Team. All my hard work and determination had paid off. This was the moment in my life where I really knew I wanted to play D-1 sports; I knew that I wanted to have this feeling of accomplishment again. I made the decision that I was going to train and work my hardest for the next four years so I could play field hockey at a D-1 University.
My junior and senior year I looked into potential colleges both near and far away from home. I was pretty certain that I wanted a school similar in size to my high school, but I wasnt sure how far away from home I wanted to travel. I remember sitting around the kitchen table with my mom and one friend of mine listing reasons why I did not want to leave home. My mom encouraged me to not limit my options to schools in the area because part of the college experience is going away to new places and experiencing new things. So I took her advice and visited schools all up and down the east coast, both near and far.
I looked into schools with good academic reputations, but I knew that the team and coach would play a huge factor in my final decision. I attended a National Field Hockey tournament during high school in California and Florida where college coaches from all over the country came to recruit and scout for their respected programs. I had played in this tournament since freshmen year of high school and therefore had a lot of contact with a wide variety of coaches in all different levels of competition. This gave me an advantage in my recruiting process.
After receiving an overload of information from coaches at all different types schools, I narrowed my list to five or six potential colleges that I knew I was interested in. The list included Drexel University, James Madison University, St Josephs University, University of Richmond and Providence College. After taking official visits to all of these schools and meeting the team and speaking with the coaches, I had a pretty good feeling of where I saw myself.
I had wonderful visits on all my officials. After each one I would come home and write down all my likes and dislikes from the weekend. I would list things for example like my feeling about the team, my first impression of the coach, the location of the school, and other outside activities and opportunities the school offered in case field hockey did not work out.
After four visits, I was almost certain that I wanted to attend James Madison University. I liked the team and the coaches, and it seemed to have everything that I was looking for, despite the fact that the size of the university was completely opposite to what I was used to. However, I thought I could handle it. I had one official left to the University of Richmond in late December of that year.
As soon as I walked onto the campus for my visit, I was amazed at how beautiful it was and I immediately had a great impression and feeling about the school. As soon as I met the girls who I was staying with on my official, all my initial nerves were calmed and I felt that I could fit in right away. They made me feel very comfortable, they were very informative answering all and any of the questions that I had, and they seemed to be everything I was looking for. The head coach had a reputation of being very tough, but the combination of the assistant coaches and her seemed like a great balance. After spending the weekend with the team and meeting majority of the team, I was so excited because I really felt like I could see myself as a part of the team. Before leaving the visit, I had a meeting with the head coach which really sold me. I left the meeting with a feeling of comfort and relief which signaled to me that this could be it!
After coming home from the University of Richmond I was almost certain that thats where I saw myself fitting in the best. I took two weeks to make sure I thought through the choice I was about to make regarding the next four years of my life. After some long hard thought and after asking myself over and over again can you see yourself as a Spider or a Duke, I had a feeling of reassurance and knew that University of Richmond was the best place for me. It had everything that I was looking for, I loved the team and the reputation of the school sold itself. I also knew that if for some reason field hockey did not work out, I would be happy at the school regardless.
I hope this gives a little insight into my experience and the process I went through to end up as a Richmond Spider. I have no regrets. The University of Richmond has been my home away from home and I would never change my college experience for anything else. Best of luck in your decision making!
Visit as many schools as you can and take all five of your official visits if the opportunity is there. Even though you may not want to spend your final weekends in high school traveling in the car with your parents to colleges, do it! The more you see, the better idea you will have of what you like and dislike.
Listen to your parents advice because whether or not you want to hear what they have to say, they know you the best and despite our stubbornness to want to make the decision on our own, they will be very helpful in this process.
Do not make your choice on schools because of where your friends or boyfriend may be going or because you know the most people there rather than another school. The college experience is about meeting new people and having new experiences
Do not make a decision based on a coach because coaches come and go. Choose a school that you can be happy and successful at in both your sport, academic and social life. Balance is the most important thing.
It wasnt until my sophomore year of high school when I realized I was capable of playing basketball at the Division 1 level. I remember distinctly creating three new goals for my basketball career that year. The first of which was to play basketball at the Division 1 level. Second, I wanted to become a member of the Canadian National Basketball Team. Third, was to continue on after college to play professional basketball. Once I established these three major goals, I needed to make sure I attended the college that would put me in the best possible position to accomplish all three of my goals.
I was fortunate enough to display some of my talents at a few well-known showcase tournaments and I began to be contacted by Division 1 schools. Some programs just sent letters; others phone calls, and some both letters and phone calls. After researching all the schools that had contacted me, which included location, history, academic background, coaching history, athletic departments history and so on, I was able to narrow it down to the four schools for official visits. At the time I thought that I would be visiting the University of Montana, University of Richmond, Boston College, and Notre Dame.
I had been in close contact with all four of these schools and their basketball programs for a number of months before taking my first visit, which was to University of Montana. I took this visit with my entire family because I wanted them to all share this first experience with me. We had a great visit and I loved the school and the surrounding atmosphere. University of Montana was a school that I was familiar with because I had attended a few of their summer basketball camps so I was comfortable with the coaching staff and players. Attending University of Montana would also allow me to stay close to home and the ability to drive home on occasion was appealing to me.
My next visit was to the University of Richmond. The second that I stepped onto the campus I had an extraordinary feeling of comfort and security. I loved the campus and the arena where the basketball team played. After having the opportunity to meet the coaching staff and my potential future teammates, I knew Richmond was the school for me. There was a sense of family and unity within the program, which was important to me, especially since I was going to be so far away from home. I met with the academic adviser on my visit and figured out what field of studies might be of interest to me if I decided to attend the school.
I had a great visit to University of Richmond and after returning home; and speaking with my family along with a lot of prayer I knew that I wasnt going to take up the offers on my other two visits. University of Richmond was the school for me. I thanked University of Montana, Boston College and Notre Dame University for their strong interest and continued forward with my vision of attending University of Richmond. I weighed all of the positives and the negatives and realized that University of Richmond would be the best place to help me achieve all of my goals with basketball and at the same time I would be receiving a top-notch education.
After my visit I committed to the University of Richmond. I continued to build a relationship with not only the coach, but also the players. I kept in consistent contact with two players over the remaining months of my senior year of high school and the summer leading into my freshman year of college. The following fall, upon arriving to the University of Richmond I was only a freshman but because of my previous communication I felt like I had been a member of the team and program for much longer.
I feel extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to attend the University of Richmond and to be a Division 1 athlete. I was able to achieve all three of my goals by playing basketball at the University of Richmond. I was also able to receive a great education and meet some outstanding life long friends.
Seek advice from your family and those close to you who have gone through the decision making process before you
Make a choice that will make you happy! You can always transfer but it is a difficult process. Dont make a decision on your school because you are trying to please someone else. You have to live with it for the next 4-5 years
If you are serious and passionate about your sport, then go to a school that is going to allow you to play and become a better athlete
Make sure that the school you go to allows you to have a life outside of your sport
Make sure that you get along with your teammates! You will be spending more time with these people then you have ever spent with anyone in your life other than maybe your immediate family. You want to be able to enjoy your time around these people and build strong, firm relationships.
Throughout high school, I never had any dreams or visions of playing a college sport. I had always been a pretty good basketball player because of my size, but had never played football until my freshman year. I never imagined that it would be my eventual ticket to a free education and the best experience of my life.
Though I enjoyed basketball the most, I just seemed to be a natural at football, because of my leadership and my never-quit attitude. My team always seemed to thrive on the energy that I brought into each and every game. After my junior year, I all of a sudden started receiving awards and recognition from out of nowhere, which was the first time that the thought crossed my mind of potentially playing at the next level. Though I was definitely not the strongest or fastest player on the field, I never ever quit on any play and kept my intensity and my team's energy up for the entire game. I had a solid work ethic and that is one of the main things that college coaches look for in their recruits.
I was very excited when all of the recruiting letters began pouring in, but it was very overwhelming. I received letters from top programs like Penn State University, all the way down to small D-3 schools. I never wanted to count any schools out however, because things in the recruiting world can change very quickly.
The whole recruiting process was the most stressful time in my life. I lost a lot of sleep at night. I saw the University of Richmond, and new that it was a perfect fit for me. The players, the coaches, the school, everything about it was just right. However, at the time I had a high school girlfriend, and was very close to settling on Towson University, because it was much closer to home. However, I never got the same sense of team, or sense that I belonged at Towson, like I did at Richmond. I realized that Richmond was where I needed to be, and it turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.
Whatever you do, don't look at the immediate impact of your decision. Odds are that you will get homesick; you will be overwhelmed with work, and the speed of the game, and the pressure from the coaches. Getting through all of these things will shape who you are as a person, and will make you into a much stronger individual. You will be able to handle life's challenges more easily having been a college athlete, and you will have no regrets.
Almost every college program offers some sort of camp in the summer. This is basically a legal way for coaches to see what players can do up close, though they are very limited by NCAA regulations. If there are any schools that you are really interested in, make a great effort to get to their camp. This will let the coaches know that you are interested in them, just as they are interested in you.
You should also make every effort possible to get your name out into the recruiting world. Join recruiting websites, make video tapes, and call coaches. It is okay to brag as much as you possibly can; it will only help you out in the long run. Treat your senior season as an audition, as every game could be your ticket to a free ride. If you make a mistake on the field, don't feel like scouts are going to pack it up and give up on you. Everybody makes mistakes, just make up for it on the next play or in the next game. As I said, there is NO replacement for hustle on the field.
Recruiting trips after the season are one of the most fun times that you are going to have throughout the whole journey. You are only allowed five official visits so be sure to pick schools that you would legitimately want to consider going to.
Some things to consider on your official visit:
School. Odds are you will not go pro. Will you end up with a degree that you will be proud of once you graduate?
Location. Is it too far from home? Too close? This is important, as many freshmen will get homesick and a weekend trip home can be enough to help you make the gradual transition.
Coaches. These are your new parents. Be sure that they are honest and truly care about their players. Don't fall for the old "come here, and you will play right away" line, which is used frequently to lure in recruits. If you are good enough, you will prove that you can play right away on the field, not through promises.
Players. These are your new brothers and will become the closest friends that you will ever make. You will go through the toughest few years of your life with them. Be sure that there is a sense of team among the players. Ask them all the questions that you can, about coaches, school, social life, etc.
I knew pretty early on that I wanted to play soccer in college and potentially pursue a career in the sport after graduation. Unlike most student-athletes looking to play a collegiate sport however, I did not start my school search until my senior year of high school. I knew of the top programs throughout the country because I heard the same names making it to the NCAA tournament year in and year out, but it was not until October of my senior year that I began contacting programs and receiving interest from other schools as well.
Playing for an elite club team in the Washington, DC area, we played in several tournaments known as College Showcase Tournaments. Only the best teams applying are accepted based on previous regular season and tournament records, and several dozen scouts and coaches show up to watch the games over the weekend. Through these tournaments I began talking with several schools that I previously would not have considered, such as University of California San Diego, College of the Holy Cross, Georgetown University, and George Washington University. It was not until later that the University of Richmond came into the mix.
I took official visits to College of the Holy Cross, Georgetown University, and George Washington University; reluctantly, I went to the University of Richmond at the request of my mother. I had a different experience at each school and received different feelings from each schools coaching staff and team, which is why it is very important to visit any place you are seriously considering. Out of my top three choices, I eliminated Georgetown University almost immediately after I returned home because I did not feel it was the right fit for me. I had a great time at George Washington University, but I was very impressed with the coaches and players at the University of Richmond and even though I visited on a blistering cold day in March, I still thought the campus was beautiful.
To the chagrin of the Georgetown University and George Washington University coaches, I signed with the University of Richmond. I remained laid back throughout the whole process, and signed because the University of Richmond had the complete package for me: a Division I school that was both academically and athletically strong, a quality soccer program, and a chance for me to make a major impact in my freshman year.
Of course, everyone wants to win championships, but I wanted to be a major contributing factor towards that, so I said no to several top quality programs that showed interest, such as the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University. I had a very productive four years at the University of Richmond, both on the field and in the classroom, and am very happy with the decision I made to attend. I even got to spend a year living my dream and playing in Europe after graduation.
As long as you know what complete package you are looking for in a school and program, there is no need to stress your final decision. You wont regret it.
Start your school search early! While the right school eventually came knocking for me, I am sure several opportunities were missed by waiting so long. Most athletes tend to have their schools finalized before winter break of their senior year of high school.
Do not be selective in your initial school search. You may find that a dream school you have had for years just isnt the right fit for you. Be sure to have several different options to pursue.
Know what you want before you go after it. I wanted to be an impact freshman, not just to be on a perennial championship team, so that helped me narrow down my list of potentials.
Academics come first, for good reason. Your opportunities will expand with how well you do in the classroom, and you wont have to worry about not being accepted to play for your dream program for academic reasons. Also, if a school cannot offer you an athletic scholarship, you may be able to earn it through academics.
Lacrosse for me began in fourth grade. All of my friends had just signed up to play for a Green Hornets team, our local sports organization, and I decided I didnt want to miss out. From then on I began to realize how popular of a sport it was within my area and how big a part it was going to play in the rest of my life.
After I made my high schools junior varsity lacrosse team my freshman year, I began to notice that almost all of the seniors on both the girls and guys varsity teams had been offered the chance to play in college, with many of them being for Division I teams. I wanted to have this same chance.
I started to attend overnight lacrosse camps the summer after my freshman year. Attending the camps was advantageous in several ways; they allowed you to visit different campuses, learn from experienced players and coaches, and gain valuable recruiting visibility. Many of the camps offered today not only have coaches from the school where they are hosted, but they also have coaches from other schools so you are able to meet a variety of different coaches.
The next three summers were filled with camps and tournaments. I was doing everything I could so that I could be seen by any coach that saw potential in me. I had no idea where I wanted to go, all I knew was that I didnt want to go anywhere that was going to be too cold and I wanted to play lacrosse; so needless to say my mind was wide open to any option.
During my sophomore year I put together a player profile, sort of like a resume but for sports. I included my contact information, GPA, SATs, position, awards, and any camps or tournaments I had attended or was planning to attend. I sent these profiles to any college coachs email address I could get my hands on; I just wanted to get my name out there. After a while I began to get a lot of correspondence through the mail. Schools would send their information along with a questionnaire for me to fill out. When July 1st of my senior summer finally approached, I just remember being so nervous to see if any coaches would actually call me. I received a couple of calls and decided to take three of them up on their offers for me to attend official visits.
My first visit was to Penn State University. I remember driving onto the campus and being in awe of how big the school was. The team was nice and I had met the assistant coaches several times at various camps so I felt comfortable and ready to learn more about the school. My next visit was to the University of Richmond. This visit was the weekend directly following my Penn State University visit so I was feeling a little stressed, but that all changed when I pulled up on the campus. My Mom and Dad drove me down for the visit. We got to the school a little early so we were able to drive around and take a look at the campus. Everyone told me that youll know which school is right for you the moment you step on the campus. I thought that was ridiculous and that would never happen, but to my surprise I was wrong. The campus was gorgeous, the coaches made me feel wanted and important, and the team seemed like such a cohesive group. I was sold, but I still had one more visit to take. My last visit was to Loyola College in Maryland. It was a short trip from my house and I ended up going at the same time as two of my friends. The school was very similar to the University of Richmond and I loved the housing situation and their food services, but I decided that it was just a little too close to home and at the time, many girls from my high school already played there and I wanted more of a change.
I left Loyola College on a Sunday night and by Tuesday I had made my decision. I called Sue Murphy; the Head Womens Lacrosse Coach at the University of Richmond and told her I wanted to be a part of her team. She was very excited and helpful; she told me how to handle the other coaches that I was turning down. She said to be very kind and to send them a thank you note in the mail; with coaching changes and all conference nominations you never know who will have a say in your future lacrosse career. As soon as I hung up the phone I felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my chest, all my hard work had paid off. It was the beginning of October and my college decisions were already made, when everyone else was stressing I was able to sit back and enjoy the rest of my senior year, it was a great feeling.
Start early. Its never too soon to get your name out there and start communication with different coaches.
Attend Camps and Tournaments. Not only do they give you visibility, but they also give you valuable playing and learning experience.
Attend any Junior Days or Unofficial Visits you can. Take advantage of any chance you get to see a college campus or meet the coach or team.
Attend all of your Official Visits you have committed to. I have heard so many stories of players who almost didnt attend their last official visit which actually ended up being the school they attended.
I am currently a senior right-handed pitcher on the baseball team. In addition, I am the President of the Student-Athlete Leadership Committee (SALC), Richmond representative on the Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SSAC), and sit on the Division I National SAAC for the Atlantic 10. I was able to be involved in all of these facets because of the hard work I put into the recruiting process many years ago.
The process is by no means an easy one, but the rewards in the end are priceless if you can make it work. My recruiting experience took place a long time ago and many things have changed, but I recently mentored my brother through the process. He now plays baseball at William & Mary.
Furthermore, I recently began interviewing for jobs and will begin working in New York City as an investment banker this coming summer. I was prepared for the job interview process because of my experiences being recruited to play college baseball. While the processes have their differences, your attitude and effort during the process should not change.
Here are some points I encourage you to remember during the recruiting process:
Be proactive. Don't wait for things to happen
Initiate the conversation
Don't be afraid to call, write, or e-mail coaches
Ask questions. If you don't ask, you will never know
Research the schools you want to be recruited by. Do your homework and show the coach you want to be at their school. (Know who some of their players are, know who they are playing that week, etc.)
Let them know where you will be playing (Give them a schedule of when/where)
Highlight your strengths
Make a video for coaches to use as an evaluation tool
Ask for feedback. ("Hey Coach, what should I be doing now? Is there anything I need to do to make this process easier for you? How can I improve myself as a player?")
Respond quickly to all e-mails, letters, or phone calls
Don't give up if one school says no. Everything happens for a reason
Hope this helps and best of luck in the recruiting process.
Every kid in the United States seems to grow up with at least some knowledge of college basketball. I was no different than most kids, I loved college basketball and from as early as I could hold a ball I wanted to be a part of it. So, when I was heading towards the end of my sophomore year of high school and interest started being shown by a few schools I couldn't have been happier. I thought maybe I could go to a D-III program and play my way through school in order to at least experience being a part of that next level of competition.
As I headed into what would ultimately be the most exciting summer of my life, I had no idea just how insane my life would become over the next 15 months or just how many important and life changing decisions I would make. By summers end I was not just getting looks from local D-III programs; I was receiving mail and calls from some of the biggest names in college basketball and perhaps in all of sports.
I think the first few weeks of the real recruiting process taught me a lot about life. I realized that all that glitters isn't necessarily gold and that your gut is way more intelligent than your brain. I found myself getting caught up in the madness of calls from UNC and UCLA and if I had been talked to by Kentucky I would have had the trifecta of basketball royalty. I also found myself talking with a ton of so called mid-majors, the schools that may not headline Sports Center daily but that tend to be most exciting come March.
With the help of my parents, friends, coaches and anyone else who was willing to listen or give advice I quickly pushed aside the powerhouse programs. I had to be real with myself. I wasn't going to play at those schools and more than likely I would red-shirt, sit for two years then maybe see the court if I hadn't been recruited over. At the mid-majors I had a spot right away and saw myself as an integral part of what these programs could become over my four years and beyond.
Once I had narrowed down my search I decided on a conference. I made my last three schools, the University of Dayton, Saint Joseph's University and the University of Richmond. All three of these schools were in the Atlantic 10 and athletically offered what I wanted. I unofficially visited each school during my junior year in accordance with NCAA rules which don't allow for official visits until senior year. Each school was great at displaying its positives and really great at hiding its negatives. Still undecided I headed into my senior year hoping that a choice would be clear and ultimately the correct one would be made.
My first official visit was all that I needed to make my choice. I walked onto the University of Richmond campus and something felt right. I know it sounds ridiculous and cliché but I felt at home. I had a small sense of this in my other visits to the campus but I had always brushed it off as just being excited. I didn't feel as if I was forcing myself in to a role at Richmond, rather that the slot for me was there and I could just fit right in. That night I committed to the University of Richmond and had a new home.
I was asked throughout my years at Richmond if I ever regretted my choice of school. People would point out that Dayton was winning conference championships and Saint Joseph's was going undefeated and achieving top five national rankings. I could always and will always be able to look at them and honestly say that I have no regrets. Even though we may not have won as many games at Richmond as I could have elsewhere it doesn't matter. College was so much more than wins and losses. College was an adventure and an opportunity to explore who I was and really begin to forge my life.
Make the choice for you. No one else will have to live with the decision you make like you will. The school you choose and program you become a part of will become a part of you, make sure that it represents the type of person you are and the type of person you want to become.
Listen. There are a lot of people who may want to give you advice and the vast majority of them are willing to do so because they really do care about you. Take the opportunity to listen to others ideas and perspectives and use them not as a replacement for your own but as a supplement.
Trust yourself. When you are going through the recruiting process you are at an age where the world isn't ready to trust you very often. Take that opportunity to trust yourself, if something feels right it likely is. Remember, your gut is far more intelligent than your brain.
When I first picked up a lacrosse stick in the 4th grade, I had no idea how many doors it would open. My parents, on the other hand, knew exactly what they were doing when they signed me up for my first lacrosse clinic. Every year they heard of more and more girls going to college on lacrosse scholarships and wanted to get in on the action. Luckily for them, I fell in love with the sport.
Summer camps and winter clinics dominated my free time. Not only was I getting better at lacrosse, I was being seen and taught by coaches from some of the most dominant lacrosse schools in the country. By my sophomore year in high school, letters began arriving from coaches. I sent countless emails and letters to every D-I and D-III program I had even the slightest interest in. My junior year was a whirlwind of questionnaires and emails, but during the summer before my senior year I had narrowed my list down to three schools.
I was offered official visits at Duke, James Madison University, Cornell and the University of Richmond. I declined the official visit to Cornell (too cold!), and packed my bags for my big trip South. James Madison was my first visit and one I made primarily to please my father who had fallen in love with the school and was convinced that I would too. He was wrong. I meshed well with the team and with the coaching staff, but something didnt feel right. Plus, I secretly knew I was going to commit to Duke and be a Blue Devil and a Cameron Crazy and live it up in Durham for four amazing years. Wrong again. After building it up for four years, my visit to Duke was a complete disappointment and I felt confused and frustrated at the end of my visit. I was running out of schools! Why had I turned down Cornell? Richmond had been my last choice, and I begrudgingly left my high school friends for one last weekend to visit the school. Even though the campus had just been decimated by a hurricane, it was beautiful. The team was amazing and the students were unbelievably nice. Everything just felt right. I gave my verbal commitment before leaving the campus.
Do not turn down a school just cause. I am still kicking myself for turning down Northwestern University three time defending National Champions - simply because I had never heard of them and they were from Illinois (everyone knows the only good teams are on the East Coast!).
I highly recommend taking all of your official visits. If I had had it my way, I would have committed to Duke before even taking an official visit and it would have been the biggest mistake of my life.
Lastly, go into each visit with an open mind and be polite to the people who are hosting you. Being courteous and respectful will get you far in life, and in the recruiting process.
Have fun, and good luck! Its a crazy time, but its definitely worth it in the end.
My experience with the recruiting process for college lacrosse began at an early age. My destiny was written by the high school I chose to attend: St. Mary's of Annapolis. This school had a legacy of producing fantastic, talented women's lacrosse players, and was arguably one of the best programs in the country. I had been playing lacrosse since the early age of seven years old; always played above my year, and always played with girls that were years older than me.
My high school coach was also my club lacrosse coach, Sue Chittim. Chittim, as we lovingly referred to her as, was one of the best coaches in the Anne Arundel Area, and had a lot of history and connections with college coaches. Early on in my sophomore year fall, I began to write letters expressing my interest in different college lacrosse programs. I sent my letters EVERYWHERE! I sent letters to every Ivy League school, to Hopkins, Maryland, Notre Dame, Stanford, basically every college or university across the nation I could ever be interested in to play Division I lacrosse. I included academic information about myself and expressed interest in their lacrosse programs. I immediately began a correspondence with these schools, and invited them to watch me play in tournaments and game throughout the rest of my career.
By the end of my junior year of high school, I began to stand out as one of the best high school lacrosse players in the area. I was named All-County, All-Metro, and All-American. This was the most important recruiting time of my life: Junior year summer. I went to as many tournaments as I could, played lacrosse all through the year, and tried my best to stand out as an all-around talented athlete. This time in my life could have been severely stressful, although I never perceived it to be. To me, I was just playing the sport I loved and having the time of my life with my teammates, who were also my best friends.
On July 1st, I began to receive phone calls from various coaches around the country who had seen me play. I was recruited by Yale University, University of Notre Dame, Penn State University, Dartmouth College, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Delaware, University of Richmond, Princeton University, and Loyola College, among various other schools. I was also recruited by many D-III schools, but was uninterested in pursuing that venue.
This was a process of mutual selection. The schools that were interested in me had to want me due to my criterion as a player, and respectively, I had to want them due to their criterion as a college. I talked with countless coaches, assistant coaches, and consulted my parents as much as possible. I finally narrowed it down to the following: Penn State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Richmond and Princeton University. As an athlete, you can only take five official visits to various colleges. I decided four was enough for me.
My first visit to Penn State University was unreal. I got to be on the same football field as Joe Paterno, one of the most admired football coaches of his time. The lacrosse coaches were very nice and welcoming. My mom came with me, and we were both blown away. Penn State University was enormous and despite its size, I was still able to meet with the President of the entire school. Everyone loved being apart of the chaos. It was overwhelming. But, it wasn't truly me.
The next visit I went to was University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution, extremely impressive. Everyone I met was incredibly intelligent. I was blown away by the prestige and the dignity that this institution was known for. The coach was very classy and the team seemed very together and dedicated. To be honest, I was intimidated. I doubted myself, was I really Ivy League material? I had no idea.
My last visit was to the University of Richmond. I was unsure of what to expect. I knew it was small, I knew the South wasn't so up to date on lacrosse culture and I knew they didn't have a boy's lacrosse team, which I wasn't thrilled about.
However, the moment I arrived in Richmond, I knew something was different about this school. I walked onto campus and it just felt right. I loved the close knit feel of the university. I loved the fact that I could walk the entire campus in under 45 minutes. I hung out with the team, and felt the immediate chemistry you feel when you stumble into something truly real, truly unique. I loved the camaraderie between the teammates, from the senior class down to the freshman class as everyone was treated equal on this team. Something clicked in my heart and in my head; I knew I was at home.
I've been at the University of Richmond for four years now. It's the end of my senior year, and I am finally forced to look back on the four years I've spent on my academics, athletics, and interpersonal relationships.
Well, time has certainly flown. The recruiting process made me follow my heart. I've learned that when you follow your instincts, you can't go wrong.
Listen to your parents; accept their advice, but ultimately: decide for yourself. Life will not be over if you choose to go against their wishes. In fact, life is just beginning for you.
Don't discount yourself. If you think you deserve more credit, more recognition, more accountability, then ask for it! What do you have to lose, if you never inquire?
Don't settle for second best. Push yourself, just like you would on the field, until you know you can truly be happy.
Be real. Honestly, if a coach treats you like "all that" when she is recruiting you that doesn't mean you will be when you are on the team. You are going to be at the bottom of the totem pole when you get to college and you are the 'freshmen' and the 'youngest' again. Don't be fooled into thinking you are going to start for college coaches the moment you walk on campus, you'll have to prove yourself to your coaches and teammates.
Don't sweat the small stuff. In the beginning of the recruiting process, you might get ultra frustrated, but it will be fine. There are bumps in the road that is life. Just keep putting the effort in.
The recruiting process began rather suddenly for me. I got my first letter my sophomore year when I played both JV and Varsity. I got a few more letters during the offseason from other programs and fall of my junior season they started coming in about 10-15 letters a day.
Football is a little different than other sports because high school football is where it all happens there is no club or AAU teams that help you in recruiting, just camps at different schools where you can showcase your abilities. Although I never went to this type of camp, I recommend attending if you're serious about going to one of the schools. It's a good way to see how you match up with others and for the coaching staff to take a look at you in person as well as get your name out there.
A few things to consider when you're being recruited, regardless of what sport, is that you're selling yourself just as much as the recruiter is selling the school. Be respectful and humble to all recruiters regardless of your interest level in their school. If someone takes the time to talk to you about playing for them, you should at least take the time to hear them out.
I was injured during my senior year which heavily hurt me being recruited by big time D-I schools. However, I was still able to get a scholarship because I listened to smaller schools even though I never thought I'd end up at one (which I did). There is no such thing as "that will never happen to me" because whatever "that" is CAN happen. So you want to give yourself options and NEVER burn a bridge unless you know for sure that it is not the school for you. College sports are a business and recruiters will tell you everything you want to hear, but until you sign a letter of intent it is all just talk. Recruiters have no loyalty to you until they offer you a scholarship and/or you commit and sign that letter of intent. Therefore you have to lookout for yourself and not get too caught up in your own hype.
- Have fun with it. Go on your visits and enjoy being celebrated for your hard work.
- Trust and accept advice ONLY from people you already know and trust - like your family and coaches because they are more likely to have your best interest at heart
- Choose a school AND an athletic program, not just an athletic program. Most likely you're not going to go pro in whatever sport you're being recruited to play so you need to make sure you go to a school that meets your academic desires and career aspirations as well (and if you don't have academic desires or career aspirations you may want to give it some thought).
- Become knowledgeable about your choices/considerations. If you're interested in a school do some research and background checking about it on your own. Don't just accept what the recruiter gives and tells you.
- Continue to work hard. You're in this situation because of your hard work at what you do, so don't slack now just because you're being recruited.
- Stay out of trouble. There is no worse label to obtain during recruiting or any time in your life for that matter as a person who has "character problems" which basically means you're probably more of a risk than you're worth. If there's one thing you have absolute control over it's showcasing the fact that you're a good person and not a troublemaker. This will show that you would do a good job representing their school. This factor may be the thing that gives you the edge over someone else that they're recruiting.
I chose to play lacrosse in college because I knew there would be more opportunities for me. It's much more difficult to get noticed playing soccer, my other sport, because of its popularity. I made the decision to focus on lacrosse my freshman year of high school, which meant I would continue to play soccer for my high school but no longer play for my club team.
In my freshman year I was completely unaware of the opportunities in store for me. I went from hoping to be considered by D-III schools to being courted by some of the best D-I schools in the country. After attending numerous camps and tournaments, filling out tons of questionnaires, sending countless emails and talking on the phone with several programs, I finally had it narrowed down to five potential schools.
The NCAA allows high school seniors to go on five official visits. Each visit allows the student-athlete to spend 48 hours on school property, all-expenses paid. I accepted visits to James Madison University, University of Richmond, Loyola College, Vanderbilt University and Georgetown University. I ended up deciding Georgetown University was not the school for me due to its location and canceled the visit, but followed through with the four others during my fall semester senior year of high school.
The first trip I went on was to Vanderbilt, so I boarded a plane with my parents and headed to Nashville. Vanderbilt is a fantastic school and I had a wonderful time, but realized while I was there that it was just too far away from home. Next, I went to Loyola which I also really enjoyed. It was a smaller school and closer to where I grew up in Pennsylvania. My third visit was to James Madison, where I was pretty sure I was going to commit and later sign. As it turns out, I changed my mind and the coaches were very surprised when I decided it wasnt the right fit for me.
At this point I was so tired of the process and traveling that I was tempted to cancel my Richmond visit. I just wanted to decide between Loyola and James Madison, but my Mom wouldnt let me. So I headed south to Richmond for one last visit. As it turns out, I really liked the school, players and coaching staff. The head coach, Sue Murphy, was new to Richmond and was the United States Developmental team coach. She had just built the Boston University program and came to Richmond to do the same, which was one of the selling points to me. I left Richmond even more confused than before.
I was given one week to decide my fate for the next four years of my life. I declined offers to Vanderbilt and James Madison, but was going back and forth between Loyola and Richmond. In the end, I decided on Richmond; it was a great fit and I really enjoyed my time there.
The recruiting experience can be very overwhelming, but sometimes you just have to take a step back and think about what program fits you the best. If you trust your instincts, you cant go wrong.
After going through the recruiting process, being a player and spending a year as a coach I have several pieces of advice I would like to share.
- Coaches are always watching to learn more about you, which means on and off the field. Be on your best behavior at all times.
- Put time and energy into the process. If coaches dont come to you go to them.
- Do your research. Look into lots of schools and then narrow them down as you go.
- Be honest with coaches and demand the same honesty from them in return.
- Choose a school that you will enjoy even if you arent playing a sport. You never know what could happen. Its important to pick a school, not just an athletic program.