What I Learned From Being Recruited to Play Goalie for an NCAA DI Program
By Coach Damon on March 4, 2016
Awhile back I was fortunate enough to get to chat with a current DI NCAA lacrosse goalie. I wrote about the experience in this post – Week in the Life of an NCAA DI Lacrosse Goalie.
After our conversation there was so much more I wanted to discuss so we jumped back on the phone this time to discuss an important topic on the minds of many junior high and high school goalies as well as their parents: college recruiting for lacrosse goalies.
Since this goalie has gone through the entire recruiting process, who best to learn from? That said, what I learned is that recruiting is unique to the individual so one goalie’s experience might differ greatly from another.
Still, talking with lax goalies who’ve gone through the DI recruiting process just a few years ago can help young goalies who are about to go through the same process.
Like the previous post, name and university are withheld to avoid having to get clearance from the NCAA.
Recruiting and the process of it are different for EVERYONE.
Sure you have that handful of kids every year that are committed before they step on a varsity field, but 1) It’s just a handful and 2) even there individual processes differ greatly from each other.
Before I go any further into this let me state first that while stressful, all players should treat the recruiting circuit as a blessing.
Whether you are an early D1 commit, or a late D3 one, the amount of lacrosse you get to play during those 3 or so years should not be taken for granted.
If you are getting recruited it may be hard to view it in such a positive light, because of the stresses associated with trying to find out where you will be spending four years of your life, but trust me it will pay dividends going forward.
An outlook where you only see opportunity will up your game and make you a stronger person that NCAA D1 lacrosse coaches are looking for.
All of that being said, I do want to say I am probably a little bit biased, I loved being recruited!
From playing six games a weekend to calling college coaches. I’m sure not everyone has the same view I have on it, but I will take what I learned and pass it on in hopes that it helps the next generation of lacrosse goalies get recruited.
I’ll break it down into a frequently asked questions type of blog, stuff I hear from kids I coach, some from Coach Damon, and also questions I know that I had when I was a young goalie getting recruited.
Being realistic with yourself.
Look, as simple as it probably seems, being realistic with what types of schools you could play at is very difficult, especially for goalies.
Why? We all think we’re awesome!
Having that confidence is important when playing our position. That being said, self-reflection is something that must constantly be employed when going through the recruiting process.
In addition to this it is important to understand that in the end it’s about what YOU think, not your parents, not your teammates, not your friends.
In the same way that the best goalies dissect their own games to improve, you must dissect what you bring to the table, and where that can realistically get you.
This obviously can change over time in terms of how much better you get, so the constant evaluation is important.
Well to touch back on the last question about being realistic it is very important to note the type of player you are.
Can they build a team around you? Are you a leader? Are you a great locker room guy? Are you academically strong recruit?
You must consider all of these things, because they are what college coaches will be looking to find out as well.
It is very difficult to be all of these things, but a strong combination of a few of them will make you into a more well rounded and sought after recruit.
In addition to questions about yourself as a player you must ask some questions about the type of place you are looking for.
- How much scholarship money do you need if any?
- What do you want to study?
- Do you want to go to a big school or a small school?
- What geographic location are you looking for?
- Can you play well in a snowstorm?
- How many goalies does the program already have?
These are all important when looking for a home to stop balls for four years.
Besides the whole element of lacrosse, you want to be as sure as possible that the school is a good fit for you. I know a few goalies who chose D3 schools or D1 schools with a lesser known lacrosse program but are much happier as a result because of the strong academic education they’re receiving for free.
Look we all mature at different times, I’m sure you have heard all of that before, but that doesn’t make it any less true now.
In addition to that obviously there are schools that actively recruit really young guys, but the fact of the matter is if you can play, a coach will find you, whether you’re a freshman or a senior.
It happens every year.
Regardless much of recruiting occurs the summer between sophomore and junior year, so maximize your time during the school year and go into the summer ready.
Fun fact, there is no way to sufficiently be ready for college lacrosse.
Regardless of what you do, how hard you work, what your off season regimen is, you will be shocked when you step on a field for that first day of fall ball.
What all the preparation that you may or may not do gets you ready for is your speed of adjustment. For some guys it’s a flick of the wrist, and for others it just takes time.
I don’t know if there was ever a definitive moment where I knew I was good enough to get recruited, even when I wasn’t very good I thought I was good enough.
There was a time my sophomore year when I was picked for a team that had some of the top kids in my recruiting class on it. Even though I wasn’t getting a lot of recognition yet, I think it hit me then that if I worked my tail of it would definitely happen for me.
It’s definitely a problem for goalies knowing if they are good enough for a couple reasons. One would be that there is A TON of talented goalies out there these days.
Two would be the fact that most goalies have an air of confidence that sometimes makes knowing how good you truly are difficult. The best way to gage this is by thinking about the type of players you’re competing against, and if you are an integral part of your team.
This question mostly depends on the school.
Overall, I would say the goalie camps are generally for increasing skill and not as much getting recruited. With the general team camp some schools use them to recruit a lot more then others.
My experience was that my current coach watched me play, and wanted to get me on campus to play at the schools camp to cement his thoughts on me.
The rest is history, but I would say that it’s definitely a mixture. However with other schools I was looking at, playing at their camps was never even mentioned.
It really does depend and I wouldn’t say tournaments over camps or vice versa. I do think that team camps definitely will get more eyes on you then a goalie camp will.
Short answer? Yes, it can be for sure.
In general I would say if you are talented enough to commit as a freshman goalie then it is important to weigh your options, and time is only on your side in that situation.
That doesn’t mean that if you commit as a freshman even if it is for the wrong reasons that it may not end up being a good decision for you.
As I have said everyone is different, and even though maybe you aren’t all that old yet sometimes you just know that this college is the place for you.
The biggest concern being that if you are 14 years old your views on the type of place you want to be at for four years can drastically change within the next four years of your life.
So all in all while I would say YES, it can be the right call, if you’re getting recruited that early take your time, its better to be completely sure then make a decision as fast as humanly possible.
Of course lacrosse coaches will be looking at how well you save shots, but there’s a lot of other things too.
Other than the actual skill, coaches look for a lot of things, some tangible, others recognizable character traits that cant be marked on a scale as much.
My coaches in high school used to always say that as a player you want to be a guy that a college coach can see being a captain for them.
Being a strong person in terms of your will, values, work ethic, and toughness are features that are sought after. The qualities of a leader to be more vague with the topic.
In addition they are looking for a guy with strong grades. It almost breaks down into a Venn diagram in a way, composed of leadership, work ethic, skill, coachability, and grades.
The more of these that you put on display, the better chance you as a goalie have of being recruited.
A lot of these traits are looked for across all positions, but I would say it is especially important for goalies, as you must be smart, and a field general to be an effective college goalie.
No trait is more important than another, and if you aren’t strong on the field make up for it by being extra strong in the classroom and vice versa.
The best thing you can do for yourself as a player and a goalie is to work on all aspects of being a highly touted recruit not in any ranking, but in the traits that I talked about that make coaches want to have you on their team.
It’s not always what you can do for them in your first year, as what you can do for them over the course of four.
So this question is for all of those guys that aren’t from the places that are the “Traditional Hotbeds”.
College coaches routinely stop into games for teams in Long Island, Baltimore, and parts of Upstate NY. While it is becoming more of a trend for them to spread out it would be a stretch to say that they will be traveling to a Midwestern state, or the West Coast for a high school lacrosse game.
So the question remains: What can I as a goalie do to get noticed?
The answer is not just one thing, but to start make a highlight tape of your season.
Write an accompanying email that will give the coach a detailed view of who you are as a person and athlete.
For tips on crafting a great recruitment video and accompanying email check out the Lacrosse Goalie’s Step by Step Guide to Being Recruited.
Hopefully this will get you on their mind going into summer recruiting. Before you go to any tournament or camp check which coaches are going, if a school that you have interest in going to is going to be their follow up with them.
If you have already been in contact with them, great! If not, no worries, the best time to plant an apple tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is right now.
Obviously coaches will not commit a player purely based off of film and emails, so it is important to capitalize when you are in front of them.
At that point it is up to you to live in the moment, and play within yourself.
Even when you are scored on it is an opportunity to show how you respond to set backs, are you going to be calm and collected or is it going to ruin the next few minutes for you?
Put yourself on display and give them a reason to want you on their campus for a visit and potentially for four years of college lacrosse.
Remember from our lacrosse goalie recruit diagram, lacrosse goalie skill is only 1/5th of the puzzle. Can you demonstrate the other 4 important pieces?
You may start talking to a coach and think this is it, he seems to really want me to play for him.
While that coach may very well be the coach you end up playing for, the amount of time it can take to actually commit based off of grades, how many more times they actually want to see you play, etc. can actually take a long time.
My college coach wanted me to commit about 6 months before it was actually possible for me too because I had to get my grades up.
People don’t always consider that getting recruited doesn’t happen overnight for everyone, in fact it probably only happens overnight to the top 5-10% of recruits.
With other players it takes a lot longer, and even for that top crop it can take longer, especially if you are trying to commit to an Ivy League school, or other top academic schools that seem to be so prevalent in lacrosse these days.
It’s just a process and the best thing you can do for yourself is take a deep breath, and just realize its going to be okay if you keep working hard.
So in conclusion there is a lot of information out there coming from a lot of different sources, thing is we all have unique perspectives on college recruiting.
I think everything that I said could help a lot of guys because I was getting recruited not all that long ago (current sophomore in college), and even though the process has changed a bit, it’s not all that different from when I was a sophomore in high school four years ago.
If there were some things that you would want to prioritize it would be focusing on those traits I talked about: Being coachable, being a leader, your skill, your grades, and being a guy that a coach can see being a captain for him.
If you take care of those aspects of yourself, then you will put yourself in a much easier position in terms of getting recruited.
Good luck in your future endeavors, and remember that even though it can be stressful, treasure it, because there really wont be a similar situation in your life.
As you can see the recruiting process for a star high school lacrosse goalie can be equal parts exciting and nerve racking.
As TK mentions though just remember that you’re going to play college lacrosse for 4 years. What a blessing and an honor that not every goalie gets.
These are going to be exciting times in your life so be sure to embrace it.
Also remember that the recruiting process is going to be unique for everyone. Always be sure to be honest with yourself and consider additional elements besides the lacrosse team when selecting the right school.
And be sure to devote proper time to your studies. Even the best lacrosse goalie recruit in the world can’t play for a university if he/she doesn’t have high enough grades.
Until next time! Coach Damon
Any additional questions about getting recruited to play goalie? Let me know in the comments.