Choosing a college and corresponding lacrosse program is no easy task for players and families. If you base your decision on the fact that you look good in the school’s orange and blue colors or the fact that your girlfriend or boyfriend are attending that school, then you’re doomed. There are many more important factors to consider such as: major, cost, social environment, class size, geography, athletic commitment expectations and travel schedule. To begin the search for a 40-year investment, in other words, college, players and parents need to be realistic about which college and lacrosse program best sets up the student-athlete for long-term success.
When looking for the best advice, it’s helpful to speak to someone who has been through it all, but can also see things from your perspective. Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney is that person. He has been the head coach since August 2006. In 2015, he entered his ninth season at Hofstra and has led the Pride to 73 victories, a 2008 Colonial Athletic Association championship, the 2009, 2011 and 2014 CAA regular season titles along with berths in four consecutive NCAA Championships from 2008 through 2011.
Before he was a successful head coach, he had a historic career at John’s Hopkins between 1988 through 1991 and served as team captain as a senior. He helped lead Hopkins to the NCAA Tournament all four years, including an appearance in the 1989 NCAA title game. He received Hopkins’ Turnbull-Reynolds Award as a senior, which goes to the player most exemplifying leadership and sportsmanship.
As icing on the cake of experience and understanding, Coach Tierney also has both a son and a daughter who are in the midst of the lacrosse recruiting process. We had a chance to hear from Coach Tierney about his best pieces of advice on how to keep your “eye on the prize” and not only be smart about your college search, but more importantly, realistic.
What advice do you have for players interested in Division I schools?
Players need to understand that playing DI is similar to a full-time job. It’s easy to be wowed by the cover and glitz and glamor of Division I, but on the inside there is a lot of hard work, dedication and early mornings. If DI is on your mind, it’s best to instill a hard work ethic early on because as more and more talented players are emerging from different parts of the country (and Canada), work-ethic is becoming more of a differentiating factor.
What advice do you have for players entering the recruiting world?
Players in 9th and 10th grade are going to have different questions than players in 11th and 12th grade. What is important is to know what you’re looking for when you’re searching for schools and lacrosse programs. Understanding which majors are offered and how those apply to you and not just studying something to fill credits. Also know where you stand at an academic and athletic level and what level of commitment you are ready for, both in the classroom and on the field. It is important to be aware of what environment will set you up best for success. Do you focus better in a classroom with less than 20 students or are you more comfortable in a larger, lecture hall style classroom. Does the warm weather distract you or are you completely miserable in the winter. The same goes for lacrosse; do you want to be a part of a team where you are expected to commit a lot of time to the team and winning or is less demanding level of commitment something more fitting for you. There is no right or wrong, it’s just what works best for you. Finding the school and lacrosse program that suits who you are as a player and a person is what will make your college experience that much more enjoyable and also set you up for success later in life.
What type of players do you look for and where?
We find players both at high school games and showcases. We take into consideration the talent and competitiveness of each of the teams at these games and showcases and try to find when players are competing at their highest level. Finding a player who is a hard-worker is very important and that is the first question we will ask the club or high school coach. Not only do we want to know how a player performs in a game, but what they’re like at practice. Do they go hard and push their teammates to improve or are they lazy and simply rely on their natural talent. Hard work is instilled at a young age and no matter how talented a player is they need a strong work ethic to accompany that talent to stay ahead of the curve. It’s sometimes difficult to tell exactly how talented a player is at a young age, but one thing that can be seen is work ethic.
When recruiting, what defines a “Hofstra” player for you?
Hofstra players are a unique brand of guy. They are the kind of player that will do anything for a ground ball, beat the opponent to the hole and always looking to out-work someone. We recruit hard-working talent that wants to play this brand of lacrosse and not only be a part of a team, but more importantly is to be a part of a brotherhood. Having that brotherhood and leadership is what wins games and makes teams successful, knowing that you can rely on the guy next to you to do his job and that he is going to do the same for you.
How has the accelerated recruiting landscape impacted your approach to recruiting?
It has its positives and negatives. We have gotten great players both early and late in the recruiting process. The key is to keep all of your options open and be willing to adapt your recruiting “formula.” No one formula works and the door must be kept open at all times because as a coach, you never know who is going to be a late-bloomer or on the other side, be a talented young player who decides not to work as hard and fall behind the pack. We want to make sure that every player we recruit is that “Hofstra guy” so that players aren’t transferring or getting cut, because outside of lacrosse, that affects players families.
Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?
I would like to wish everyone the best of luck in the process and to stress on doing your homework on the school, the lacrosse program, and most importantly yourself. Know what kind of student, player and socialite you are and once you’ve become realistic about all of those, your chances of finding a school and a lacrosse program you’re happy with will significantly increase. Make sure you’re on a team that is going to the right tournaments for you. Dive deeper into what the program is about; who is coaching, how do they run practices? Once you understand what type of player and person you are, it becomes much easier to narrow down colleges.
ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Hostra University or Seth Tierney.