On the Road Again…Recruiting Never Ends

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By: Gene McCabe
Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach

Coaching and recruiting go hand in hand.  For most coaches recruiting has become a year round, never ending endeavor. In fact, this is most of what we do as coaches. We realize recruiting is the lifeblood of our program. It is also extremely competitive. We know if we are not constantly recruiting someone else is, and there is fierce competition for the best players. This is particularly magnified when you consider that the top academic schools in the country are all trying to attract the top student-athletes in the country. This is a small pool of student-athletes and they are not always easy to find.

Today I am about to embark on a trip to Maryland. Over the next three weekends I will travel up and down the east coast watching some of the nation’s best junior lacrosse players compete in fall tournaments. My staff is also on the road. In fact, we are on the road recruiting somewhere every weekend in November. In our sport, the two heavy recruiting periods requiring on the road travel are the month of November and the summer months of June and July. It should be pointed out that each sport has their own specific times of the year when the bulk of their recruiting events take place.

While recruiting is competitive, the coaching world is both communal and fraternal in nature. We are like a flock of birds who travel to the same spots every year depending on the season because that is where the food is. I know when I arrive at South River High School in Annapolis tomorrow morning there will be 60-100 coaches there. When I arrive at St. Paul’s School in Baltimore, MD the next day, many of the same coaches I saw the day before I will see again. Many of these coaches I know well and consider close friends. We joke amongst each other that we are part time “recruiting gypsies”. In this aspect, it is great to get out there and catch up with colleagues who I have not seen for a while.

Most of it is mental work though. Picture a line of coaches extending 110 yards long facing a lacrosse field. All of us bundled up because it is only about 45 degrees (sometimes a lot colder). Each one of us is sitting in our folding lawn chair, pen in hand with our notebook on our lap, peering out of our sunglasses for 6-8 hours at a time. Our job is to sit, and watch, and evaluate. We have rosters and we take notes on guys we thoughts played well.

We do this over and over and over. We log 1000’s of miles on the road. The following is a summary of where my staff traveled last year: Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois (Chicago), New York (Syracuse and Long Island),Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Colorado, and California (3 times).

Over the course of our travel my staff will easily see 6000 high school students play lacrosse. These players will come from all 50 states and some will come from Canada. Ultimately, we will end up with about 10-12 accepted students we recruited. Each sport has their own target numbers but I would bet the numbers of players watched is always much higher than numbers of players yielded in every sport.

When we are not traveling to evaluate we are back in the office where the work required in recruiting does not stop. To get those 10-12 top players who love Washington and Lee for all the right reasons we must establish communication very early. When we get back home we contact the players we liked by e-mail, phone or snail mail. We ask for academic information and filter out the kids we think have the academic profile necessary for admission to W&L. For the students who are in the ball park we begin the process of introducing them to W&L. We encourage them to visit, we talk to them on the phone and we continually send them information by e-mail or snail mail. We are basically building a relationship with these players and their families.

It is expected that other schools do the same thing. We know the guys we are contacting are getting a lot of attention from other schools as well. Other sports have slightly different timelines but our hope is to have a list of 25-30 top prospects by the time September rolls around. From there we hope to have approximately 15 of them visit our campus for an official visit in the fall and we hope 10-12 of them decide W&L is their top choice by early November.

Just in time for us to get back on the road again!

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