Recruiting Column: How to become a lacrosse recruit

Photo: Yale Athletics

USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. is an industry leader in college recruiting.  Their technology-based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.

July was an amazing month for our coach interviews. In fact, we had the opportunity to sit down with the head coaches for both the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I Lacrosse National Champions, Andy Shay of Yale and Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe of James Madison. From what it takes to be noticed as a lacrosse recruit, to how you can make sure you’re making the right college commitment, what they had to tell us was nothing short of elite!

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from our conversations with the National Champs.

Andy Shay, Yale men’s lacrosse

Q: How can a recruit get noticed by you and your coaching staff?

A: The best way to be seen by our coaching staff is to come to our prospect day. Really, it’s the only way that you can guarantee that we’ll see you. Unfortunately, there will be 100 kids at our prospect day and a large portion of those players aren’t going to end up here. That’s just the reality of recruiting. But, if you do show up to our prospect day, it’s a guarantee that we will see you and be able to evaluate your chances of playing at Yale. And, as a recruit, that’s all you can ask for. You should want to be seen. The alternative is the slim chance that we will see you at a tournament, with 80 other teams. That’s just not very likely.

Q: How can a recruit do his or her best to make the right college decision?

A: So much of the recruiting process and making a college commitment is centered around what you the athlete, is told by the coach that’s recruiting you. And, I get how that might make sense. But, I am the last person you should want to talk to about whether you want to come here, or not. Because I have no idea what it’s like to be a lacrosse player at Yale. Yes, I am an employee of the university and I love my perspective of our program. But, my perspective is that of an adult. Not, a student-athlete. I don’t attend classes. I don’t socialize with the players. I don’t live in the dorms. I don’t do the homework. I don’t get coached by myself and on and on. As an adult at Yale, I am very happy. But from my perspective, I’m 25 years older than you. My message to recruits is to ask questions of the student-athletes at the schools you’re considering. Ask them the questions you’re not comfortable asking the coaches. Ask them about the coaches. Ask them about practice. Ask them about day-to-day life on campus. Because if you can do that everywhere you visit, you’re going to come to the right conclusions and figure out what’s important to you. That’s when you can know that you’ve made the right decision.

Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe, James Madison women’s lacrosse

Q: How can a student-athlete know what college level or schools are right for his/her situation?

A: The ideal scenario would be that you have mentors to rely on to help point you in the right direction. That might be the club coach, it might be the high school coach, or it could be anyone within your community that has a reasonable perspective on what playing at the next level is all about. I feel kids should be leaning on that type of mentorship, for not only recruiting, but just growing as an athlete in general. Realistically, if you want to be a college athlete, you’ve got to have a strong sense of who you are, your strengths and weaknesses. You have to know where you stack up and your mindset should be that of constant growth and improvement. It would be pretty difficult to achieve that sense of awareness without the help of that mentorship.

Q: How would a recruit go about landing on your radar?

A: You have to take personal responsibility for this process. Whether that’s sending us an email, calling us or whatever, it’s your job to let us know you’re interested. It’s on you to make yourself known. Listen, there are so many talented lacrosse players in this country. It would be impossible for us to discover every young lady who has the potential of playing at JMU. Additionally, if you think we’ll just notice you playing in a tournament with 500 other players, you’re not doing yourself any favors. That’s an extremely challenging way of getting yourself recruited, because you’ve got stand out and you’ve got to do it at the right time! It’s much more efficient to do the work, communicate and prepare yourself to be noticed by coaches. Then when the time comes, you’re giving yourself the best chances of being evaluated by the right coaches, at the right schools.

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