The college sports recruiting process is an exhilarating and time-sensitive journey that aspiring student-athletes undertake in pursuit of their dreams to compete in lacrosse at the collegiate level. In this dynamic and highly competitive process, student-athletes seek to showcase their athletic abilities, academic achievements, and character traits to college coaches, who in turn assess and recruit potential candidates to join their athletic programs. With a timeline that often begins as early as a student’s sophomore or junior year of high school, the recruiting process demands careful planning, dedication, and perseverance as athletes navigate through camps, tournaments, official visits, and communication with college coaches.
Understanding the intricacies of the recruitment timeline is crucial to optimizing opportunities and making well-informed decisions that will shape the trajectory of a student-athlete’s future both on and off the field. Read on to learn more about the timeframe in which many of these milestones should occur.
Research Schools (February/March)
Prospects should research schools and their lacrosse programs prior to their junior season. Develop a list of schools that you may be interested in attending. Some valuable resources for quick information and links to all Division I, II, and III lacrosse programs include lax.com and insidelacrosse.com. For more extensive research, visit usnews.com, click on advanced search, then varsity sports. Extensive information on schools, lacrosse programs, academic requirements, and scholarships can be found by using this tool.
Letter of Introduction (Late March/April)
Early in a prospect’s junior season, prospects should compose a personal letter to introduce themselves to the coaching staff at the schools they may be interested in. In addition to the letter, take time to develop an athletic resume. Athletic resumes should include vital athletic information, including all sports, honors, and statistics. Lastly, include a copy of your spring lacrosse schedule. Keep in mind, college coaching staffs are in the midst of their own seasons, so the response may not be immediate. However, the letter of introduction will allow coaching staff the opportunity to start a file on the prospect. Personalize your letters to the specific schools you are sending a letter to and do not be afraid to e-mail these items. Ask coaches what summer camps they will be attending so that you can try to attend a camp that will allow them to see you play. As a junior, coaches can correspond with you via mail and e-mail or can watch you play. However, coaches are unable to place recruiting calls or talk with you face-to-face.
Camp Schedule (Late Spring)
When you have settled your own schedule for summer leagues and summer camps, send a follow-up letter and camp schedule to coaches. Your follow-up letter can update the coaching staff on how you are doing or how you did in your junior season and the camp schedule will let them know where and when they can see you over the summer.
Game Film (Spring/Summer)
At some point during your junior season have your coaching staff or parents develop a game film. For best results, tape several or all of your games. Since many coaches may not be able to travel to see you play in person, quality game film becomes a vital tool in the recruiting process. It is suggested that you send a film(s) of you at your best against the best competition. Coaches may not be able to accurately evaluate you if they perceive the level of competition as being very weak. Do not send a highlight film. Coaches prefer a full game or extended portions of games because they realize a highlight film does not allow accurate evaluations. You can add a highlight section to a full game film for added exposure. Be prepared, most coaches prefer to keep game film to view and review, so make copies as needed. Coaches will probably not be looking for game film before August or September, so game film from Bishop Sullivan CHS or other camps will be a viable option.
NCAA Clearinghouse (End of Junior year)
As a prospective student-athlete at a Division I or II institution, you have certain responsibilities to attend to before you may participate in athletics. The NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse, located in Iowa City, Iowa, is the organization that handles ALL inquiries regarding an individual’s initial eligibility status. The Clearinghouse operates a separate Web site at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net which maintains and processes all of the initial-eligibility certifications. To register for the NCAA Clearinghouse, fill out the online form at the Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse Web Site or call the NCAA publications hotline at 800/638-3731 and ask for a free copy of the “Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete” which contains the registration forms and a Clearinghouse brochure. This guide can also be viewed online in our Student-Athlete Eligibility and Recruiting Section.
A college coach may contact you in person off the college campus only on or after July 1 after the completion of your junior year.
Unofficial Visits (Spring of Junior year, summer/fall of senior year)
An unofficial visit is when a prospect or prospect’s family visits a college campus at their own expense. Prospects can take tours, undergo admissions interviews, and even meet with the lacrosse coaching staff or team members. Unlimited unofficial visits are permitted by the NCAA.
Official Visits (Fall/winter of Senior year)
An official campus visit can be arranged through the coaching staff. Prospects are permitted five official visits total at DI and DII schools. An official visit occurs when any or all of the following occur: A prospect’s transportation, meals, lodging, or entertainment is paid for by the coaching staff within the permitted limits. Note that different programs handle an official visit differently. Not all programs have the resources to pay for all of the items listed above, but that does not mean a coach is not interested. Individual prospects may have to absorb some of the cost of an official visit. For more detailed information on contacts, and unofficial, and official visits, visit www.ncaa.org.
Application and Admission (Dates vary from school to school)
Applying and gaining acceptance to schools are up to the individual prospects. Always inform the coaching staff that you are applying or have applied to their school. This allows coaches to identify you as a lacrosse prospect to their admissions department. In addition, some lacrosse programs are allotted application fee waivers by their admissions department. This waives the cost of applying for top recruits or desired prospects that may be undecided about applying. Do not hesitate to inquire with a coach about the availability of fee waivers. If a coach does not oblige, it may be that his admissions department does not offer them or they restrict them.