Behind the Scenes: Division III Recruiting

Read this post if you’re interested in getting some behind the scenes information on how D3 NCAA lacrosse recruiting actually works. Eliminate some of the unknowns and make it easier on yourself if you get to the point of being recruited.

First thing to know; There are no athletic scholarships. Since a coach can’t help prospects get money to attend their school, what CAN they do? I asked college some D3 college coaches and this is what they said:

Coach 1:

“What a coach can do is work with admissions to try to match a recruit with a particular academic department, professors and advisors, and your program needs.  The student-athlete needs to choose the school and feel good about their overall decision.”

Coach 2:

“Coaches can put Prospective Student Athletes (PSA’s) in touch with the financial aid department, make PSA’s AWARE of scholarship opportunities, and speak generally about the process. Coaches can be aware of the numbers involved in a PSA’s package – generally told to them by the PSA – but they can have NO influence over how a financial aid package was calculated. Division III coaches who claim that they can get a PSA more money are 100% incorrect and in violation of NCAA regulations.”

The next thing you should be aware of are the timetables which a coach can contact prospects. This will help you know when to expect coaches to begin contacting you or your family. Division III coaches cannot recruit a prospect until they have completed their sophomore year of high school. 

What should prospects do until after their sophomore year?

Coach 1:

“The NCAA rules are dynamic from year to year, but typically you may have contact with a PSA (prospective student-athlete) if they choose to come to your institution.  Prospect days are open to recruits of HS age, and camps are open to youth and middle school players.  We have also been allowed email communication, direct messaging, and texting recently.”

Coach 2:

“Stay on track academically. The most important determinant of where you can play in college is your academic profile. Keep working on your game; specifically the things that you’re not good at and that you don’t like doing – those are the areas that need the most work! Be patient and start researching schools that would be a good fit for you. You can still contact coaches at these schools even if they cannot respond. Get on their radar and stay focused!”

Know the application process. Each school is different in how/when they accept applications. Find out the best time to apply, and when you’ll hear back from the school on your admittance.

Visit! Each prospect is allowed unlimited unofficial visits (its on your own dime) to colleges. Go take a look at the school, and do it at different times of the year if you can. Prospects are allowed to take one official visit (the school pays for it) to colleges after January 1st of their junior year in high school.

What’s the best way for a prospect to get recruited/noticed by a school?

Coach 1:

“The most important thing for any young player is to take control of the recruiting process by researching colleges and by getting in front of coaches.  College coaches are at many HS games, club tournaments, showcases etc.  Communicate with your target schools to let them know you will be playing in a particular event.  We have a very large list of recruits at the younger levels, and we start to narrow the list down based on ACT/SAT scores, HS GPA, ability, and interest as they progress through high school.”

Coach 2:

“Contact the coach of a school that you are interested in directly. Do some homework about school demographics (size, location, etc.), academic profile, lacrosse level among other things to see if it is a good fit for you. Reach out to each of those coaches via email or phone and make them aware of who you are: your high school, club team, HS GPA & courses, standardized test scores, position, lacrosse schedule, film (if you have it), and the reason that you’re interested in that coaches school. If you don’t hear back from a coach DON’T GIVE UP. A coach may not respond to you right away but that does not mean he is not interested. Be persistent and honest in your communication!”

Last bit of advice for players/families interested in playing Division III lacrosse:

Coach 1:

“The key thing to remember for young players is that it is their decision to make.  Don’t feel pressure to ‘verbal’ at a young age because some other guys (who may or may not be your equal on the field) have done so.  That is where it begins to get uncomfortable for parents and players… peer pressure to ‘say’ where they are going.  If we step back and acknowledge that there are very few 15 year olds who make their bed every morning without being reminded, it seems funny that we are going to ask them to ‘commit’ to knowing their college and future.  These are developing young men, and we all could do a better job of helping them along through the process.  There is a reason ‘sophomoric’ has a negative connotation.  Many of the things that college coaches look for have to do with emotional maturity, team ethos, self-motivation, and a growth-mindset; and these qualities need to be nurtured and developed. So, a young player can work to be the best student and player.  They can always hustle, be there for their teammates, and be coachable.  They can make their bed in the morning without being reminded.”

Coach 2:

“There are so many opportunities at the Division III level that it is silly to not give it a fair shot. Investigate every school regardless of lacrosse level. If it is a good fit for you in every other category AND they have a lacrosse program: that’s your match.”

So there you have it, there’s really not much of a mystery. Be patient, do your research, and be persistent. NCAA Division 3 lacrosse is an awesome and competitive environment which can be a perfect fit for some prospects/families.



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