Coming from a football town where lacrosse was unheard of, I never thought college lacrosse would be part of my future. Everyone I knew and everyone I grew up with was infatuated with football, the college teams nearby, and even Pop Warner. People lived and died for football.
When I was introduced to lacrosse as an 8th grader, I thought it would be a great tool to stay in shape in the off-season, as many football players did. However, the moment I picked up a stick I knew it was the sport for me. It was fast paced, exhilarating, and was more intense than football.
As time went on, I had developed into a player with physical skill and I was slowly fine tuning my mechanics as a player. I started as a freshman on a varsity level, which, at the time, felt like the highest level of play attainable for me. The more I played, the more confident I became. After talking with my coaches I realized that playing college lacrosse was a realistic goal and I decided to jump head first into the recruiting scene and attended recruiting showcases the following summer. I played to my standard, but everything I did felt off beat compared to the players around me. As I stood across from top 100 recruits I felt like a cowboy in downtown NYC. I did not belong to the elite, but it then I knew I was going to do everything I could to push myself to that level.
The rest of the summer, and going into the fall, I dedicated myself to becoming a more well rounded player. As I developed as a player, I began receiving interest from college programs. The recruiting process required a lot of hard work and patience, but it was worth it. My club coaches were actively contacting NCAA Staffs on my behalf to gauge if there was any genuine interest. With some positive feedback, I was ready to make a trip to the great North East and visit college campuses.
I traveled across the east coast taking visits to as many colleges as I could. The thrill of going on these recruiting trips and being “courted” by coaching staffs made you feel pretty important and at times, it can make you impulsively change what you’re looking for in your college experience.
I had narrowed my “choices” to three programs. School number one was a mid tier Div. I program with an outstanding business school. They told me up front that they were already recruiting someone at my position that was higher on their board, but I was more than welcome to commit. Looking back, I would have enjoyed my time at that school with, or without lacrosse. The atmosphere of the university, the location, and the business school were everything I could want!My second choice was a smaller Div. III school, which, unfortunately was not within my families’ budget. My third choice was an upcoming Div. I program that had a bright future ahead of them. They offered me a generous scholarship, which afforded me the opportunity to attend their University. The school itself was not as desirable as the first University I visited but, with the promise of having a vital role on the team, I committed to “school number three.”
As most college freshman will experience, the transition from the high school game to college can be a bit of a shock. I went from being the star to trying to earn a spot as a practice player. I was not pleased with my position on the depth chart, the school, its location and the overall environment. While I loved my teammates and my time spent with them, the other components of my college experience were too great; two months into my spring semester I decided to transfer. The coaching staff urged me to transfer to a school that offered lacrosse but that first year at the Div. I level had lead to “lacrosse burn out.”
I made the mistake of committing to the wrong program because I chased recognition as a player over happiness as a person. I am not advocating transferring if you are at the bottom of the depth chart or if you have hit some adversity. I just hope that my experience and choices will help others realize that when they consider which program they are going to commit to, lacrosse should be one of the smaller factors. As a recruit you must ask yourself, if I never step on the field, will I be happy here? Will this place prepare me for the next 40 years? Will being at “X” University prepare me to be a great employee, husband, and father? Look beyond the aesthetics, the cool gear, the state of the art locker room and last year’s win/loss record. This is a unique time in your life so make sure you “measure twice and cut once” as the old adage goes and choose a college with your future in mind.
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