Choosing a school can be confusing. Your kid is gonna need some help.
Notes from a Lax Father
Helping your student-Athlete find the right college
By Howard Landman
In September of 1999, I sent my twin, lacrosse playing sons off to college. Dropping them off was the easy part. Getting them through the recruiting process and helping them find the schools that were, "right for them," was the hard part.
I took some notes on what we did, left out all of the mistakes, and offer them to you as you begin your college search. But first, let's take a moment to make a few assumptions. If these apply to you, read on!
- Your child is a lacrosse player and wants to continue to play lacrosse in college.
- You want your child to get the best of both - education and a chance to continue his/her athletic career.
- Your child hasn't been offered full scholarships from the top 5 programs in America.
Well, if you've gotten this far, I know how you feel about the three points I've made. So, now the question is, where do we go from here? Since you're not #1 on every coach's wish list of recruits, you will have to find out for yourself who's interested in you. Now, that will require some degree of marketing on your family's part. But trust me, it's not that hard a job. Just follow these steps with your child and I'm sure he or she will have a great future as a college lacrosse player.
Step 1: Go to the Division I, Division II and Division III links on E-Lacrosse and print out the complete list of schools on each page. Now you have a list of every school playing DI, DII, and DIII lacrosse. Step 2: If you want to include non-NCAA teams at the college level, go to the listings for schools who have club teams. The USLIA and the NCLL offer many great lacrosse experiences at top schools around the country!
Step 3: Go to your guidance counselor or local library and borrow a copy of Barons or Peterson's Guide to Colleges. Check out EVERY school on all lists to see which ones offer the major(s) you're interested in.
Step 4: Get a realistic impression of your child's ability to play lacrosse. This is the hardest part. Eliminate the schools where you know he or she can't play. Third string middies on their high school team should not be applying to play for the Division I national champs! It's ok for a kid to ask his coach what level he should shoot for in college team selection.
Step 5: Pare down your list to a workable number of schools. 15-25 is not unreasonable at this stage.
Step 6: Contact each coach by mail or by e-mail and tell them of your interest in the school and the lacrosse program. College lacrosse coaches are generally very honest and will be up front with you about your chances to play and about your chances of getting admitted and receiving financial aid.
A Word Of Caution Before We Go On: If a coach shows an interest in your child as a player, that's great, but remember, that same coach has shown that same interest in a number of other players who play that position. Your son or daughter may be a coach's "top recruit" but that will only last until someone else gets in before you. Don't let the recruiting process go to their head!
A Question for the kids: How badly do you want to play? This is a good time to ask your child this question. "Can you sit on the bench for a year or two until your chance comes to play?" "Do you want to go to a school where you may not win a championship, but you'll play for all four years?" Be honest here. You may want to go to the colleges' websites and look at their current lacrosse rosters. You may find out that your child would be the 4th goalie and the other three are all freshmen. He or she may have to wait 3 years to get playing time. Checking rosters is not a bad idea to see how loaded a team is at your son or daughter's position.
Step 7: Keep communicating with the coaches as you gather all of the information from the admissions offices of the school's you're interested in. As this information comes in, you will find your list shrinking for various reasons. If you've narrowed your list down to 2 or 3 or 4 schools, let the coaches know that they are among your top choices. It may lead them to take a greater interest in you.
Step 8: Your child should make school visits wherever possible. While on a visit, make sure they make an appointment to meet the coach and, if possible, talk to a few players to see how they feel about the program, the facilities, and the balancing of athletics and academics. If they can't visit, ask for the names of a few players. A $2.00 phone call can turn out to be your best investment in this process.
Step 9: For the kids: DON'T GIVE UP! If you think that you are a good player, sell yourself and keep at it. Remember, there are always teams in need of good players. In fact, there are always teams in need of players of all ability levels. Not everyone can go to Virginia or Princeton, but there are some exceptional schools that can appreciate your talent. Just because you haven't heard of a school doesn't mean that it isn't the school for you.
Well, Good Luck! And if I can be of any further assistance to you, just e-mail me. Now that my kids are off at school, I have plenty of time to personally answer your questions. - Howie Landman
Howie is the father of three boys. His oldest son is a senior at Colgate and was a baseball player in high school. He has been an educator for 31 years and is now an administrator for the Baldwin Public Schools. He is currently the Chairman of the Section VIII Sportsmanship Committee for High School and Middle School Athletics and the Administrative Representative to the Section VIII modified Athletic Council, the governing body for Middle School Athletics.
From 1996-1999 Howie was the webmaster for the Wantagh High School Warriors Lacrosse Homepage. His son, Matthew, was the E-Lacrosse correspondent reporting the game results to our readers for those years. Howie is also the Nassau County Score Coordinator and Reporter for LAXPOWER. For the next four years, Howie will be a full time lacrosse fan following Denison and Goucher, where his sons chose to attend.
Matthew, also pictured above in a contemplative state, is currently a freshman at Goucher College in Baltimore where,
unfortunately, he is out for the season with a knee injury. While at Wantagh High School on Long Island, Matt was an all-Conference goalie and one of the goalies selected to play in the exceptional senior game.|
Jason is a freshman midfielder at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. While at Wantagh he was an Academic All-American, all-county, and the winner of Nassau County's Doc Doherty Award (given to the all-county player with the highest academic average). He also played in the exceptional senior game.|