Sean Brown admits that sports were never his natural talent, however, he has proven that hard work and dedication can take you a long way. After playing in high school, Sean got recruited and became a starter on his college team. Unable to leave his passion, Sean continued to play after graduation, playing in the American Lacrosse League for Coors Light and Alexandria Lacrosse Club. Currently, he is pursuing his Master’s degree in Sport Science & Nutrition at The University of Texas, and works at the strengthening & conditioning of athletes of all ages. See what Sean has to say about his recruiting experience.
Where did you play college lacrosse and why did you choose that program?
I played four years at The University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. First and foremost, my college decision was based on where I felt I would be happiest if I were to never play lacrosse there. If I were injured, cut, etc., I wanted to be sure that I would have a positive college experience and overall education independent of any lacrosse experience. For me, UMW fit that mold. My older brother had played at UMW in the 4 years prior, and I was familiar with the beautiful campus, outstanding liberal arts education, and relatively cheap price tag. Of all the schools I visited, UMW just felt like home to me.
From a lacrosse perspective, I wanted to play. I wasn’t terribly interested in going somewhere that would have me on the bench for multiple years. I wasn’t afraid of the challenge, but fortunately this wasn’t too much of an issue because I didn’t get a lot of interest from schools I felt were out of my range. UMW presented me the opportunity to play in the CAC against the nation’s best competition in Salisbury, Stevenson and St. Mary’s, and I would be able to step on the field and contribute to the program from day one. I liked the idea of being somebody who could help UMW reach the next level.
What other colleges did you consider and what was the determining factor in your decision?
The three other schools that it really came down to were Bucknell, Washington College, and Gettysburg College. Bucknell was the D1 option, and that definitely appealed to me. I had interest from some other D1 schools, but Bucknell showed the most promise as far as a quality school where I could contribute. Unfortunately, I only ended up with an offer to walk-on, and given that the school itself was probably my least favorite of the final few, I moved on. Washington College showed a lot of interest, and I came very close to choosing that program. I had a great experience with the coach and the program had a wonderful history. Gettysburg was very similar – a great program with a great coach. Ultimately, it boiled down to where I felt best outside of the lacrosse program. On a personal level, UMW just felt like the place I belonged (most students I know understand this feeling of belonging in one place over another). So, while Washington and Gettysburg had the better programs, I went with my gut regarding an overall experience at UMW.
Did you have any positive or negative surprises about the program once you were on campus?
Just about everything is surprising when you move from high school to college lacrosse. For me, I was shocked by the amount of work put into the program. I had been informed of the amount of work that goes into being a D1 athlete. Nobody really told me that D3 players work just as hard – they just do it a little differently because it is mostly on their own. Adjusting to the workload of college classes as well as strength, conditioning and on-field practice definitely took me a little time. Aside from that, the pace of play is the other big thing that surprised me. I had been warned about this aspect, but there really is no way to replicate the pace of the college game vs. high school. Every competitor is bigger, faster, stronger and was all-district, all-conference, etc. just like you were. It takes a little bit of time to get your mind and body to move at the speed of the college game.
How did being a collegiate student-athlete shape your college experience?
For me, being an athlete defined my experience, in both good and bad ways. Academics at UMW are pretty challenging, and I didn’t spend as much time focusing on my studies as I should have – I was too focused on lacrosse. Also, professors at UMW didn’t really care about my schedule as an athlete. I was expected to perform in the classroom regardless of any lacrosse scheduling issues, which was definitely something I had to hurdle often. It took some time, but eventually I was able to figure out the best ways to manage my time and balance lacrosse with academics. On the plus-side, my experience with my teammates for four years is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. My class bonded immediately and we spent the duration of our time dedicated to improving ourselves and the program. When I reflect on my college years, my favorite memories are those that I shared with my brothers – the good times off the field, the blood, sweat and tears, the victories and defeats shared. That bond is something that only athletes understand, and without being a part of the team, my college experience would have been much different.
Given your recruiting experience, what advice or tips do you have for current recruits?
Without a doubt, RETURN EVERY PHONE CALL! Early in my recruiting process I was getting calls from an assistant coach at Drexel University. I kept missing his calls and didn’t have any urgency to return them, figuring he would call back. Eventually the calls stopped coming, and I saw later that the coach calling me had accepted the head coach position at Rutgers. I have no regrets, but Drexel and Rutgers were both programs that I would have loved to explore being a part of, but didn’t get the chance because I didn’t return the coach’s calls. He got tired of calling, and I missed out on the opportunity to explore two Division 1 programs as a result.
Other than that, I am extremely happy with my decision to choose a school and environment that would be the right fit for me if I were to never have played lacrosse. That would be my recommendation. Lacrosse is great, and I know looking 10+ years down the road is hard, but eventually the game ends for all of us. Try and find a place that will make you happy, give you a bright future and even brighter memories. If you can have a positive lacrosse experience there as well, that’s a bonus.