This is the last blog of a four part series that I have worked on for the past few weeks. To read the other blogs, clink on any of the links below :
So, we have looked at how coaches are looking for the best players, athletes and students that they can find. Last but not least though, coaches want to recruit great people. Obviously, this is a quality that is a little less tangible and less observable than the other qualities. However, it is definitely something coaches pick up on and here are some examples and ways in which they do :
1. Lacrosse is a very small world and word travels quickly. Coaches will be able to find out whether or not you are a good citizen off the field very quickly. Coaches do not want to deal with young men who continuously get themselves in trouble in high school. They do not want people who have had run-ins with the law or have bad reputations amongst their peers or teachers. Coaches have to interact with student athletes for four years and their lives are closely intertwined. To be blunt, most coaches do not want jerks on their team, so your best bet is to stay out of trouble in high school and at camps that you go to during the summer. The advice my father, Coach T, gives on this topic to young players is, "If you wouldn't do it or say it in front of your mother or grandmother, then don't do it or say it." This one little piece of advice should at least keep you from doing something stupid if you adhere to it honestly!
2. Coaches watch you when you are not playing. If a coach is interested in recruiting you, he might try to observe how you act on the sidelines. He may ask himself questions about you like the following :
Is he just goofing off all the time?
Is he being supportive of his teammates?
Is he being respectful of the other team?
Is he into the game or is he sitting down on the bench?
Is he interacting with his team in positive ways?
Most coaches have been around sports and young athletes for a long time, so it is pretty easy for them to pick up on some cues on whether or not you would be a positive addition to their team or not as a person. So, it's important for you to become more aware of yourself and how you are being at all times in these situations. Strive to be the best teammate you can be, strive to be the best friend you can be, strive to be the most coachable player you can be…and then when a coach asks these questions about you to himself, he will see someone that he wants to make a part of his program!
3. Make the most out of your interactions with coaches. In almost all situations where you see coaches in the recruiting process, they are not allowed to come up and talk to you due to NCAA rules. But, there is no rule stopping you from going up to them. If you are interested in a college and run into the coach from that program at an event, then smile, shake his hand and introduce yourself briefly. Coaches appreciate young men who carry themselves with confidence and who are respectful. Little gestures like this may go a long way for you.
If you are getting recruited, then a coach will either be calling you or you will be calling the coach. Typically, phone conversations can be like pulling teeth for coaches because many times young athletes have little to say. Some of you might be thinking, "but I'm shy!". So was I, but we all have to get over that at some point and this opportunity is a better time than ever. If you are interested in a school, then make sure you know some things about that school so you can learn more. Have some questions ready for the coach. Try to talk with the coach about topics other than lacrosse and school. Remember, this is someone you could possibly be spending four years of your life with, so you better get to know that person. (Dealing with coaches is good practice for dating girls too...both are used to boys who only talk about themselves, but like young men who ask questions and listen!)
Another situation to be aware of is if you ever go on an unofficial or official visit to a college. Many times, recruits will spend a day and night with some of the players on the team. Coaches will talk to his players after the visit to see how the recruit got along with all of them. Usually, if you just be yourself and are humble, the players on the team will like you. The recruits that team players usually cannot stand are the ones who brag about how good they are as players or how many times they will probably be an All-American. Remember, if you are getting recruited, that is just the beginning. Even if college coaches are telling you how great you are, you still have not done anything yet in college!
So, these are just a few ways in which you can portray to coaches that you are a great person to have around as a part of their team and institution. One of the hardest parts about being a coach is going to bed every night wondering if any of his players will get themselves in trouble. If a coach can find players that he trusts, then that makes his life a whole lot easier. Coaches are looking for individuals who are leaders, who respect all those around him, who work well with teammates, who are willing to put the goals of the team above his own, and the list can go on and on.
Basically, you have to find out how you can be the best person you can be and then continue to grow as an individual from that point on. Trust me, it's a life long pursuit for all of us, but now is the time to start! Growing up as a teenager can be a very confusing time for anyone, but the best lesson I ever learned that if something does not feel right, I should probably not be doing it. If a situation, or group of friends, or anything else came up for me that did not feel right, I tried to remove myself from that predicament. I was no saint, but I tried my best and I learned from my mistakes.
However, I cannot really tell you how to be a great person either. But, I can tell you that the people who I think are great people are those that are present, self-aware, open, loving and authentic. Learning how to embody these characteristics is part of maturation and are traits that you will develop in some ways, through playing lacrosse. But, it also takes a whole lot more! The best way in which I have learned to grow is by getting to know people more who embody the ways in which you want to mature. I have friends in their 50s and 60s who I know I can learn a lot from by just being around them. I read books by and about people who I look up to and respect and try to learn from their lives as well. We are all works in progress when it comes to being "great people", but there are a lot of great examples out there for us if we look around!
Trust me, being a great person is
much more important than being a great lacrosse player and getting
recruited, but the two may go hand in hand.