“The wall can pay for college.” Stick skills are not only important to develop yourself as a player, but also to secure your future in the academic and working world. The more you practice, and the more time you commit to hitting the wall everyday, the better chance you have of being noticed by recruiters and being offered a scholarship to a school you want to go to.
Coach Corey Struss of North Greenville University (NGU) cited this quote during his exclusive interview with us on the lacrosse recruiting process. NGU announced Struss as head coach of their new men’s lacrosse program in December 2013, putting him in charge of developing the program from the bottom up. Since then he has been gearing up for the inaugural season for the Crusaders this coming 2015.
What advice do you have for players interested in playing D2 lacrosse?
Work ethic is huge. To be able to put in the time every day whether they want to or not. To have that passion. As a program we’re looking for lacrosse junkies, guys who can’t get enough of it. But they also want to do well in the classroom. It’s important to have a good balance of academics and athletics. Expectations are pretty high with both. We want guys here that are able to bend over backwards to do anything for the team. Guys that are going to go out there every day, for 5 minutes or 30 minutes, and just work and get better on their own time too. Work ethic goes a long way.
What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?
I would say letting me know when you will be at tournaments and certain events. Also being able to possibly send me highlight clips to get my interest and grab my attention, so that I can follow up if I see their skill set happens to be in line with what we’re looking for. It’s a reciprocal relationship. If they are interested in us definitely reach out, but if we’re interested in them we’re going to reach out to them as well. We have two to three coaches on our coaching staff, so we can’t be at every event in the country at the same time. We have to know which spots to hit, where it is going to be best for North Greenville. So if kids could reach out to us and let us know when they are playing at a certain place, we’re probably going to go and check them out, as long as we have the man power to do so. I’ve had to swallow the fact that I can’t see every single kid, at every tournament, every weekend, but if I know there is a kid that is interested in North Greenville for who we are and what we bring to the table then I will invest my time in them and see if they would be a good fit for us.
What areas of player development would you recommend players to focus on?
I read a quote the other day, “the wall can pay for college.” That’s something that we really want to drill into our guys coming in. Stick skills, hitting the wall, that’s something that you can control everyday. Over time you can control your athleticism, your speed and your agility, but hitting the wall every single day is going to be a vital part of our success as a young team and as a young program. I also advise all my players to invest in a jump rope and an agility ladder to work on speed and quickness. I’m an advocate for hitting the weight room and getting stronger but this game is about speed and trying to really hammer out those qualities. I would take a quick, slippery shifty guy over a big guy with poor feet, poor footwork and poor agility. Something else to really work on is improving your lacrosse IQ by watching high caliber lacrosse. Pick out five of your top favorite players in the college game right now and watch them and emulate them. Studying film as a student, not just a spectator.
What’s a question, specific to North Greenville you wished players asked you more during the recruiting process?
We are a Christian school, so I would love for kids to ask a little bit more about that. Questions such as “what does that entail?” “”what are the expectations of that?” “what will I be held accountable for besides grades and lacrosse?” “what are the standards like here?” We do have a higher standard. We want to represent the university and represent ourselves as Christians, out on the field and in the classroom, and find that balance in between. If they can get a little bit more educated in that respect, it will help us with our recruiting tactics and finding the types of kids that we want to recruit. We are like the new kid on campus. We’re a new program so all eyes are on us and we want to make sure we are recruiting the right kids. Obviously a good lacrosse player, a good student, but also someone who will represent us to the highest degree on and off the field.
What type of player do you look for–raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?
At this point in our program, being a new program, I would love to have the latter of the two, but I think raw athleticism is more of what we’re going to get at this point. So I think we’re putting it on ourselves as a coaching staff to really develop those skills, and refine them. When they get here if they have a good skill set I think we are going to be able to develop them to the level where they need to be. I think over time our dynamic is going to shift, and we’re going to be able to attract more of both. Those really athletic kids that are also refining their lacrosse skills. You see Limestone College, and top tier teams like Le Moyne, they hit the sweet spot with those types of kids because they have been around for so long. That’s where we want to be eventually, but I think you need the athleticism to get to that point.
What is special about being a student-athlete at NGU?
It’s the balance of a few things. We have the trifecta. We have a great location. Greenville is right down the road from Clemson, we’re an hour and a half from Charlotte. We also have great academics. We rank 30th in the southern region. Our job placement rate is close to 85%, which is above the national average of about 75%. And lastly we are really invested in our athletics. We have a great turf field and we’re about to break ground on a 5,000 seat basketball arena. We’re definitely committed to the student-athletes and we want to make sure that we’re picking the right ones. We have a lot of kids knocking on the door here, but I really need to be selective about who I decide to bring in. Where it’s lacrosse, academics and other things, we have to find that balance.
What are your do’s and don’ts, likes and dislikes of recruiting videos? If you have any.
I like full games, but it’s really hard to find time to watch a 60 minute game. What I really like is watching what players do after the play. After the whistle. The interactions with their teammates, the referees, their coaches. That helps me gauge what kind of character they bring to the field. Highlight films are nice, but you don’t want them to be less than two minutes. If you are doing a highlight film, chop it up for multiple games so I can see some consistency throughout the season and not just one game where they had a terrific performance. Mix that up and give me a highlight film of the whole season. About 4-6 minutes is enough to be a good gauge and at least grab my attention. It’s ok if they miss the cage, it’s ok if they take a bad shot. It’s what are they doing before or after that that I like to see.
Some final thoughts from Corey Struss:
Like I said, It’s all about the balance. We want to find not just great lacrosse players, but great young men. We do have a pretty high standard of who we’re recruiting here and we want to make sure that we do it the right way. We’re doing it the hard way, bringing a lot of freshman in and building from the ground up, but I also think we’re doing it the right way right now.
ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by North Greenville University or Corey Struss.