Monday, August 11, 2008

Do People Play Lacrosse in Alabama? And Can They Go D1?

I got a question from a player in Alabama who wanted to know how he can get recruited by Division 1 schools. Many of you already know my answer but here it is again.

Answer: Robert the best thing you can do is get out of Alabama as much as possible to play against those guys from the north. That's the only way you'll get the exposure to those schools.

The fact that your school is the best in Alabama means nothing compared to the hundreds of players who are fro New York and Maryland who will be applying to those same schools. I call it the "Top of the Bottom of the Barrel" rule.

The fact that you are tall, and an attackman, can really help you. But you have to get to camps, our tournaments to play as much as you can.

In lacrosse we actually lose a year of exposure to get recruited. Unlike fall sports and winter sports where you can play your senior year and that can affect where you go, lacrosse players really need to have their act in gear by your junior year.

An option that I took, and that you might take, is to transfer to a school with better exposure later in your high school career. Possibly to repeat your junior year etc. This can be tough on some families but if the dream is big enough you'll find a way to get it done.

Hope that helps Robert. Let me know if you need anything else.

Jonathan -

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What's a JUCO? And How Should We Handle This?

Question: Our son is 17. He recently found out he did not clear at the Div 1 level for Bellarmine University in Kentucky. His coach phoned yesterday to suggest he start at a junior college to help him increase his grades. A very nice coach from a junior college in Syracuse? phoned same day and talked to our son about going to a junior college in Syracuse . Our son is wanting to do what his future coach suggests. We have never heard of junior colleges before and are wondering if we can ask for scholarships for these schools. Jack, (Bellarmine coach)suggested our son get one year college, and he would take him for 3 years. The junior college coach told our son he would go for 2 years, we wondered if 2 years was mandatory at all junior colleges. Any info you can give us we would appreciate as your time permits. Thank you.
(Name witheld) ( Parents)

Answer: Hey there guys. Thanks for writing.

Junior Colleges (JUCO's) are very common for athletes. And they are not uncommon for athletes who need to get their grades up. They may be more popular in the North East and that may be why you may not have heard of them.

JUCO's are also for athletes who are a little young, or a little underdeveloped physically but super-talented. It's a great place for kids to grow a little bit, mentally and physically to understand and survive college.

Many Division 1 coaches have relationships with coaches at both JUCO's as well as prep schools. Many of these coaches have worked or played together on other teams so they know each others systems. A Div 1 coach would recommend your son go to a school that will develop him into a player that he can use. The D1 coach may have a need for your son to play a certain style, or even a certain position, so they work together to help your son have a better chance of playing once he gets to the D1 school.

As far as scholarships go, I am not sure. It varies school to school. Most JUCO's are cheaper than full-fledged universities or colleges but just start reaserching the heck out of the school that he is recommending. (If you let me know the name of the school I may be able to give you more insight.) Upstate NY is a hot bed for lacrosse and there are some fantastic players that your son will be exposed to.

Generally, JUCO's are not necessarily filled with the brightest bulbs in the box. Steve will have to keep his wits about him and focus on his goal. There will be a ton of players there who are "dumb jocks." Most of them have never been away from home and most of them will be partying like rock stars and trying to get through school. (Don't mean to scare you Mom. I usually save that for the dad's.) But if your son is a solid kid he will do just fine.

(Just as an aside: I spend a lot of time in Calgary, AB Canada and I coached a young kid who went to Limestone in South Carolina. It's a D2 school and it is primarily a jock school. They have a ton of athletes male and female and it is party central. But my athlete went down and was able to focus. Limestone was his goal, but when he got there the coach did an about face and didn't really play him as much as he wanted. He was a young freshman but the kid was a stud! Women in the gym where we trained thought he was twenty-six. But the school was a nightmare. Kids coming to practice stoned. Drunk. You name it. But Bailey worked on his game, and his grades, and ended up transferring to McGill in Montreal which is a phenomenal school academically. My point is that even though Bellarmine has shown interest, it doesn't have to be the goal. Your son may go to the JUCO, and with focus, get his grades up and get interest for other schools. Not just Bellarmine.

It's easy in this process to feel that you're on a water slide. Just hop in and you'll slide to the goal. On this slide though you always have options.

Now a bit about the "year" confusion. Most JUCO programs are two years. But that is really irrelevant. A lot will depend on how he is doing. If he kicks butt and gets stronger physically and mentally he might leave after one year. Or he might stay for two. That's up to your son. He may get there and love it and not want to leave. Or he may get there, hate it, and be so motivated he just does fantastically so he can get the hell out.

The NCAA rule for Div1 is you have five years to complete four years of eligibility. Once you enroll full time in ANY school. If you go to you can see the most current eligibility rules for all the Divisions.

Another option, and one that I followed, is to repeat a grade of high school or transfer to another school. I did this after my junior year of high school. I wanted to be an all-american so I transferred to a better lacrosse school, repeated my junior year and was an all-american my senior year. This is most commonly done in private schools, or a kid from a public school goes to a prep school to do a "PG" year or a "post grad" year. There are some great schools in New England for this and they all have ties to college programs.

There is always scholarship or financial aid at these schools too. Also, no matter what your incomes are combined you can always apply for financially. It's a myth that you can make too much money to qualify.

The JUCO coach is going to want you for two years. The D1 coach is going to want you for more. You can always go to the JUCO for two, take a "red shirt" year at the D1 school and then play for two. There are all sorts of options.

I am going to assume Jack is being honest with you. If he is a good recruiter then he has a ton of kids he's talking to just like your son. He's just hoping for some of them to stick. It's like throwing mud at the wall. But what he is saying is, "This is what I feel is the best path for you to take to get into my school." But along the way so many things can happen. Your son can do well. He may not do well. He may do well and be interested in another school by then. Or he may get injured and can't play. All is possible.

Hope that helps guys. Let me know if you need anything else. I'm sure you're going to have a ton of questions and I'll do my best to answer them. Good luck to your son and let me know what you decide. I always love to hear how things turn out.

Jonathan -