Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Schools Should My Son Target?

Question: My son plays lacrosse here in Illinois. A solid 4.2 GPA he wants to pursue an engineering degree. What Division 3 schools should he target?

Answer: Richard this is not an easy question to answer as your question has many variables. So I'm going to throw some questions back at you and let you know that I never recommend any specific school to go to. Some quick looks at Division 3 standings and you'll quickly know what are the top lacrosse schools. Within those schools some will have excellent engineering programs and some won't have any. So you will quickly weed out most of those schools because they aren't going to offer what your son is looking for academically.

By targeting D3 schools I'm going to assume that you feel he is not D1 calibre as a player and that you feel he has a better chance of playing D3. If that is the case you may also want to open your options and look at schools that are in the Mens Collegiate Lacrosse Association. The MCLA is the governing body similar to the NCAA for universities with club programs. The level of lacrosse is tremendous and the ability for your son to play is extremely accessible. It's a little known opportunity for lacrosse players heading to college. Many athletes are attracted naturally to D1, D2, and D3 but in many cases the level of lacrosse and the level of student is much higher than that found on most D2 teams and many D3 teams. Check out

You must think of some things as a family.

1) If your son were to choose a school and NOT play lacrosse, would he be happy there. That's the first question. Here are some others.

2) If this school the size of school that my son needs. Large school? Small, intimate campus? The latter usually comes with much more individual attention to the student which is important obviously.

3) Does my son want to be away from home or close to it? Not all kids like to be that far away. Some can't wait to get really, really far away from the family to spread their wings.

4) Are the kids on the lacrosse team a bunch of dumb jocks or are they serious about their academics. Middlebury, serious students. Salisbury, probably not as serious.

5) Does the coach have a history that stresses academics or is he strictly lacrosse. Coaches are paid to perform as coaches and therefore most will lean towards lacrosse.

6) Is there a school my son really wants to go to that is D1 but we're not really looking at it because we don't think he'll play? This may be true as a freshman but he can probably play club there or JV and focus on his grades while working on his game. Back in the late eighties there was a kid who played for Syracuse who was a piano major and didn't see the field till his senior year. If I remember correctly he won a national title never thinking he was going to play. But he worked and he worked and it worked out for him in the end. Don't rule that option out for your son either.

A great school that I was recruited by that has a great program is Roanoke in Virginia. Also, check out SUNY Cortland which wouldn't be too far away. But do check out the list of schools on the MCLA and talk about some of those too.

Richard for most parents and their kids coming out of high school the focus is on going to one of the big schools in any division. It's as if there are blinders on. But a question you really want to ask as a family is, "Is the goal to be able to play lacrosse in college?" You will probably get a different answer. There is a difference between going to a great program, sitting on the bench while your game develops, and finally getting the chance to play. And, going to college and playing. The first option takes a ton of discipline and patience which I don't see much of these days in most kids. If your son has that patience then go for it. If he doesn't then plan accordingly.

Hope that helps Richard. Please don't hesitate to write again. I'm here to help. I will post this answer on my blog so you can refer to it later.

All the best,

Jonathan Edwards - Olympian

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Should My Son Cut His Defensive Stick Down? Coach Thinks So.

Question: My son is 15 and 6ft tall, he has been playing defense for 4 years now. He plays Varsity for his high school team. He now has a new defensive coach who wants to cut down his stick. What's your opinion? He says it make him a better player and that most colleges won't let him use the stick as is either?

Answer: Robyn thanks for the question. When I coached I often told kids to cut their sticks down because they usually didn't have the core strength to handle it, or they weren't that great at stick handling.

The main reason defenders use that long stick is to keep offensive players at bay. The extended length helps them knock down passes and stick check their opponent. They can usually get to a ground ball sooner than someone with a short stick, and if they are behind that offensive player they can poke check his stick or gloves in hopes that the player misses and can't pick it up.

All that being said, I've never met a high school kid who didn't catch, throw, cradle and all in all play better on the field with a shorter stick. When I say short I mean no less than 5 feet or 60 inches. The days of the 52 inch defensive stick are gone.

So I do believe that it will probably make your son a better player now. I know he is tall but I imagine that he's running around with that big thing and he's not using it correctly because it's so long. He's only fifteen. He's going to be a stud at 6 feet. For now I would probably chop it down, maybe 6 inches so it's 5 feet 6 inches long. If that still looks a bit unruly I'd take it down another 6 inches.

Cutting the stick down will not HURT his game. It will only improve it. But if the stick is too long it will definitely hurt his game.

Now the comment about most colleges won't let him use the stick as is either? I think that's a load of you know what. It's true if your fifteen year old son was trying out right now. But it may just be that your coach is looking for a third party reference that you would believe in to help justify the decision. I don't think the coach really needs to do that if he explains himself and that comment kind of ruins his credibility with me. If your son is 19, 6 feet and two hundred pounds he's going to be using a six foot stick.

Think of a stick like you would a pair of shoes. Sure, you may save some money by not having to buy another pair while you wait for him to grow into them. But in the short term those shoes are going to give him blisters, they will affect how he runs, and they will affect his coordination. But if you go down to the right size that he needs right now he's going to develop properly, with good technique, and in the long run he will be a better athlete because of it.

Hope that helps Robyn. Keep my posted and good luck!

Jonathan -

Should I Buy The New Evo Ti If I Play Defense?

Carson it should be a better head if it's stiffer than the old model. Ti can be expensive and it's a great marketing hook to get you to buy it.

One thing I don't like about the Evo is that it's pretty narrow. That's an advantage if you're a middie or play attack. But as a defender it can make scooping balls or snagging passes a bit more difficult. If you are a stick handling stud then go for it. But if you're still improving you're game I'd go with something that was a little wider in the head, had a good scoop for ground balls, and that was stiff so you can check the you know what out of your opponent.

Jonathan -