Recruiting Insight with Hope College Head Coach Michael Schanhals
For some, lacrosse is synonymous with the east coast. However, as the game as grown over the years, schools are molding quality programs all over the country. Michael Schanhals, head coach of Hope College, is in that category as he enters his 4th year leading the way at this Midwest school.
Coach Schanhals is quite familiar with Hope College as he played attack and goalie on Hope’s team, as well as being named captain during the 1990 season. After college he went on to lead East Grand Rapids High School Lacrosse team to a couple of state championships before ultimately ending up back at Hope College in 2004.
We sat down with Coach Schanhals to hear more about the goals he has in mind for this program. He made it clear that though there are many attributes to a player’s game that will catch a coach’s eye, there’s nothing more promising than a recruit who can pick up a college level ground ball in a physical, fast-paced environment
What advice do you have for players interested in Division III schools?
For us, it’s school first. Take care of your academics, do your due diligence when it comes to researching the programs that Division III schools offer academically. I don’t think you need to know everything you want do with your life when you’re 17/18 years old, but just do a little homework before you reach out to various institutions, it will make the process a lot easier.
What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?
First thing is, we want to see a genuine interest in coming to school to study here. Second, you have to be a ballplayer and have a competitive attitude. We offer a couple prospect days during the course of the school year and at the beginning of the summer. We’re on the road all summer/part of winter at different recruiting events around the county so reach out and let us know where you’re going to be and if you’re on the recruiting circuit then we will definitely look for you.
What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player
Obviously, the ability to play the game the right way stands out. We look for a guy who is willing and able to get a NCAA-level ground ball. Someone who’s going 100 miles per hour through traffic, picks it up off the ground on the first try, goes through it cleanly and is confident in making a decision with the ball right away. Having that trait is crucial to success and you don’t want that to be a project when you step on campus.
We also look at eyes, hands, and feet. Are you matching feet well defensively, or getting away from pressure and exploding on offense? What happens after a good play? What happens after a bad play? We like to see players live so we can really grasp how they handle all aspects of the game and if they carry themselves in the right manner.
What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?
There are a lot of different ways a kid can elevate their game, but overall athleticism is really special. Playing sports other than lacrosse is always a benefit as it helps with your athleticism and other various skills. There are also lacrosse specific skills, and you can do a lot with flawless stick skills. Doing daily wall ball work really does show either in a live game or a film clip.
Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?
For families of recruits, be patient and ask questions. Take control of the situation, as it’s a very important decision beyond lacrosse and encourage your kid make the best decision and not just fall for an early or enticing offer. Pay attention to all factors in decision-making process not just all the different things that coaches are selling. If you trust your kid, it will give your kid confidence in making the decision on his own.
When you visit, look the coach in the eye and make sure it’s place you want to spend time and where you want to earn your degree. There are a lot of factors so you want to make sure you consider all angles, and you feel right about your decision.
The specific advice I would give to a kid is wherever you decide; this has to be some place where you’re comfortable, as you want to be in a growth mindset. You are probably a really good player now but you want to be a better player. We understand you won’t be perfect when you enter college but coaches will want you to be willing to work on whatever is needed to take your game to the next level. That senior year of high school feels like the end but it’s really the beginning.
ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Michael Schanhals or Hope College.