Lacrosse is not a major. So researching the academic programs at your target schools is important to ensure that your future college fits you on and off the field. The recruiting cycle in lacrosse is fast-paced, but keeping in mind you’re going to spend more time in the classroom than on the field helps provide perspective.
This message is core to recruiting pitch of Kevin Arabejo, Head Coach at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) in Belmont, California. A former 4-year defender for NDNU, Arabejo just closed out his first season as head coach of the program. He excelled while playing for the school, earning All-Conference honors twice and was also a two-time team captain. Now seven of his players have earned recognition from the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (WILA) with selections to the All-Conference teams this year.
1. What advice do you have for players interested in playing D2 lacrosse?
If you’re interested in playing Division II lacrosse at NDNU, the first thing to do is to email the coach. This is true for other college teams in order for recruts to be on their radar. Most schools also have prospect forms on their websites. Filling out one of these forms lets the coach know that you are interested in playing for the school. It is really helpful to have your playing schedule available for the coach at the school you’re interested in. This is especially true going into the summer tournament season when coaches are planning recruiting trips. Completing a prospective recruit profile also helps because recruits store their schedules and player information in one easily accessible place. If the coach has this information, he can plan to look for you at the tournaments he attends. Coaches can’t go to every tournament all over the country, so have a highlight tape ready so that coaches can see you play and get an idea of what your playing style is like.
2. What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?
Send us an email and fill out a prospect form. Have your highlight tape ready, have your summer schedule ready. WIth the growth of lacrosse, there are plenty of good players from all over the country and us coaches do not get to cover as much ground as we would like. It’s definitely in a recruits’ best interest to take the initiative to directly contact the coaches of the schools that they are interested in. Players should look at schools where they offer the major of their interest, fit into the school’s culture, and make an impact on the lacrosse team.
3. What areas of player development would you recommend players to focus on?
The biggest thing that I see is stick work; making sure that players are playing as much wall ball as possible and just having a stick with you all the time. Be really comfortable with your left and right hand, and try to work on skills that will make you a multi-dimensional player. We look for players with high lacrosse IQ’s. We like seeing two-way middies, guys that are really athletic that want to compete and put in the hard work and really grind, because those are the players that are going to make the little plays that lead to the big goals in tough games. As much as we all love seeing the highlight reel plays, ultimately, it’s those little plays, like getting a groundball out of a scrum, that leads big goals and results to wins. The other thing we really look for in our players is character. Players with a team mentality. Players who have a “yes coach” attitude. We want kids that are coachable; that will listen and be able to take criticism and then be able to take what we’re teaching and apply it right away. The team always comes first. We really stress to recruits that NDNU needs to be the right fit for them but for us as well.
4. What’s a question, specific to NDNU you wished players asked you more during the recruiting process?
Very early on in the process I think it’s important for recruits to ask which recruiting events I will be at. It’s crucial for them to know if I will be anywhere close to where they are or if they will be anywhere close to me. Find out if the team is having any sort of prospect camp or any sort of camp that gets you in front of the coaches. Recruits need to check out for themselves what the school has to offer in all areas, not just lacrosse and it’s definitely alright to ask for more information from the coaches. Don’t assume that the coach knows all about you, remember that they are being contacted by many players, so you need to show that you’re serious and interested. If there is any other information that you want to know about the school or the lacrosse program, don’t hesitate to ask.
5. What type of player do you look for–raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?
We look at both. Athleticism is tough to teach. We love athletic players, absolutely no doubt about it. If there’s a player who’s refined and kind of has it down, works hard, is coachable, and competes, we will definitely consider them. We will look at both types of players.
6. What is special about being a student-athlete at NDNU?
NDNU’s campus is very welcoming and everyone, staff and students, really want to do what
they can to help you succeed. It has a family atmosphere and this is especially true on our lacrosse team. LIke I said earlier, no matter what we do, team always comes first. We want to make sure that recruits who join our program have a great experience both in the class room and on the field. WIth our classes sizes and accessibility to teachers, you will definitely get a top-notch education. Our student/ athletes get the experience of being a big fish in a small pond. You’re not just joining a team, you’re joining our family. We really pride ourselves on making sure our athletes have a great experience.
7. How has the accelerated recruiting landscape impacted your approach to recruiting?
Nowadays, there are websites like ConnectLAX and other recruiting websites where recruits can post their contact information, create a profile and allow coaches like me, being on the west coast, to find and evaluate players from the Midwest and East Coast them without ever leaving the office. I really love the diversity of having all sorts of players from all over the country on our team. Players have hopes of playing at the highest level possible, but at the same time, you have to have some sort of realistic expectation of where you will fit in. For us, we really try to get well-rounded student-athletes. The kids who really succeed in our school and our program, are the kids who are focused and who want to do well inside the classroom and on the field. It’s all about the education, the location, and the experience you are going to have.
8. What are your do’s and don’ts, likes and dislikes of recruiting videos? If you have any.
I do not want to see highlights of yourself just passing, catching with a buddy, or yourself in warm ups. Some coaches like to see a whole half of a game some do not. Ask coaches how long of a highlight video you should have. For me, watching a 30 minute video for every recruit I reach out to takes a long time. I like seeing highlight tapes that are no longer than 3-4 minutes long with your best highlights first. There really isn’t a need to have music in the background, I find it distracting. Make sure to make a note of who you are on the tape. It is best when you put a spotlight or arrow on yourself in the highlight tape, so we can tell who you are on the field.
9. Some final thoughts from Coach Arabejo:
Grades are really important when we look at recruits. What you do in the classroom gives us an indication of how successful you will be as a student athlete at NDNU. Also, really research the schools you are considering and look for one that you will fit into and be realistic in your expectations about your skill level and where you will best fit. Look at the school’s roster, are you a middie applying to a program with an abundance of returning midfielders? Look at the location of the school. Is it realistic in terms of how comfortable you will be geographically? Will the tuition and costs fit into what you can or are willing to spend on college? If you are interested in a school, let the coaches know, and stay in contact with them. Send the occasional email and check in with the coach. This will show that you are serious about wanting to play there. Coaches are busy, but they want to hear from you. Make sure you take your academics seriously so that you can put yourself in the best situation to receive more scholarships and have a financial aid package that fits your family’s needs and wants. No matter where you go, it has to be the right fit both academically and athletically. Don’t chose a school based solely on lacrosse.
ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by the Notre Dame de Namur University or Kevin Arabejo.