Coaching Interview with Brendan Dawson of Widener University


Brendan Dawson is one of the great young coaches in the game today. He’s a strong recruiter with a clear perspective on the recruiting process. In his three-year run as Widener University head men’s lacrosse coach Dawson led his team to two league final appearances where his team captured a conference title in 2012. This season the Pride finished strong reaching the league semifinals while Dawson was named 2014 Coach of the Year for the Comonwealth Conference, one of the toughest in DIII.

Brendan can speak from experience when he tells his players what it takes to be the best. At Salisbury, he was a two-time captain and also a first team all conference player. He won two national championships in his four years at Salisbury. When asked about what makes a championship team, he says it boils down to hard work. It’s simple advice, but the process isn’t easy.

What advice do you have for players interested in playing DIII lacrosse?

Make a list of things that are important to you as a student. School size, class size, and location are some of the big considerations.

Think about how a school can prepare you for a career. Not everyone is going to know what they want to do, but it’s helpful to do some research. It doesn’t make sense to pay a ton of money for a college that doesn’t offer you what you want academically.

What’s a question you wished players asked you more during the recruiting process?

Ask what it’s like being an athlete at the college or university. A recruit might have different expectations for the program. Meeting those expectations or not meeting them determines how much the recruit will enjoy his experience. Think about the level of commitment a program requires because it’s different at each school.

“Do practices start as soon as I show up at school?” “Who runs practices in the offseason–captains, players, coaches?”

Knowing more about the program and how the coach runs it will give recruits a clearer understanding.

What indications help you determine if a good high school player will be a great college player?

Work ethic. Someone that works hard and wants to get better is the type of player that excels in college lacrosse. I look for multi-sport athletes because they are the ones spending their extra time outside of lacrosse working out and training. They dedicate extra hours to football or basketball practice because they like competing and enjoy being active. When they get to college I know they’ll be ready and willing to work hard for us in the offseason.

What’s special about Widener?

Our guys have a lot of options in terms of academics. We have guys majoring in everything from biomedical engineering to criminal justice and physical therapy. There’s a major for everyone. Most of our lacrosse players study at the school of engineering or at the business school.

How has the accelerated recruiting process impacted your approach to recruiting? 

I think it’s starting to affect us in different ways. Most coaches will agree that there’s a trickle down effect. Players hear about their buddies committing early to schools and feel pressure to commit early as well.

Widener’s rolling admissions process helps our recruits move through the college search at their own pace. Students take time to consider their options carefully. Also, our coaching staff and admissions office spends more time on each applicant individually. We aren’t flooded by applications around one or two deadlines instead we get applications and commitments on a continuous basis.

Can you tell us about your experience going through the recruiting process? What mishaps or challenges did you face and how did you deal with them?

Coaches place a lot of emphasis on overnight visits. There’s a reason for that. I spent an overnight visit at a school I thought I really liked. On my visit I learned things about the student life and the school that I didn’t like. Sometimes the slightest mishaps can cause a recruit to change their mind. In my case, one of my top schools turned out to be the wrong fit for me.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Widener University or Brendan Dawson.


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