The world of recruiting is a very serious competition amongst many quality athletes. However, throughout the process it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of not only the decision one may make, but also the experience that follows. Shelley Sheiner, Head Coach of Kean University is one who understands the benefits of lacrosse, as well as a quality college experience.
Coach Sheiner has been the head coach of Kean University since 2004, in his time he has broke the all-time records for wins in a single season on multiple occasions. Sheiner and his players had a 9-8 record in 2015 with a 4-2 record in conference.
Not only has Coach Sheiner had success molding great teams in the win loss column, but he has also prided himself on the loyalty that exists in his current and former players. We sat down with Coach Sheiner to learn about what makes his team so consistent as well as what makes the Kean experience so great.
What advice do you have for players interested in Division III schools?
The advice that any player that should receive, whether it is Division I, II or III, is have as strong an academic profile as possible. Having the best possible grades and board scores opens a lot more doors for you, especially at the Division III level with certain institutions. Not only will it help you get into school, but also teaches you an important lesson of balancing sports and academics.
What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?
If you’re going to send me something, whether it is a highlight film or just an email, it should be well constructed. When the initial construct is well written, any coach will appreciate it. Kids who have more depth of thought and indicate why a certain school interests them will stand out. A guy that does that and also attaches a lacrosse resume is going to get on my radar.
Also, always read over what you write. It may not seem like a big deal but when a coach reads an email, those that have errors all over the place just don’t come across as well.
What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?
It sounds cliché but I am always looking for team guys. I’m looking for guys that fit our mold. We are a big school, it’s a blue-collar, diverse campus. When I’m looking at kids I can grasp if they are Kean guys. I like to think my guys are a little more worldly, experienced, as we’re 25 minutes outside of NYC. It seems as if most of our guys possess a faster-paced lifestyle. When I start talking to kids and they indicate that they are here for the pursuit of individual accolades, it’s a red flag. We put a team emphasis on everything we do for recruiting.
What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?
Everybody is playing lacrosse now, which makes for a smaller margin of error. There are two things that every player should focus on to stand out. First is physical athleticism, as I tell players to get themselves in the best shape possible. Let’s be honest, it sounds better to play 100 games in the summer than run 100 times. For high school kids, if they want to develop and get to the next level, they need to balance both playing lacrosse and a having a quality conditioning regimen. Playing too much lacrosse can actually be a bad thing as you limit your ability to develop due to being so worn out. If you balance your conditioning and lacrosse games, you will look better to coaches but also you won’t get sick of the game of lacrosse over the summer.
Second, there can always be more students of the game, so I would say focus on lacrosse IQ. One can do that by watching high-level lacrosse. Not just watching for the top goal, but also watching all parts of it, the off ball play, defense, communication and different situations. If you’re just watching a highlight, you’re not really improving your lacrosse IQ. Learning about the plays or movements that lead to a defensive stop and then a transition goal is more important and helps you understand why plays happen before they happen. If you dissect a game and can realize everything that leads to certain plays you can really learn a lot.
What is special about playing at Kean University?
Every coach will tell you that their program is like a family, but we really do feel that way. One of the thing that makes Kean unique is it’s rich history as it’s had a lacrosse program since 1970. What makes Kean special to all of the players and alumni is the length and lineage between generations of Kean players. There are guys now who didn’t even play together at any point in 4 years, but now play together and are best friends because of the Kean connection.
I actually just talked to a guy who played in 2009 who is now best friends with the guys who were four years below him and the guys who came four years after him. They all seem to link together and being their former coach, it is a really fun thing to see.
To sum up what it means to be a Kean lacrosse player, the ones I coached and the ones I played for (Coach Waterman), is the loyalty we have with each other. We really do rely on each other on and off the field; we take looking out for each other very seriously.
Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?
Be honest. As a player, they need to be honest and realistic with themselves and their abilities. As a parent, it’s important to be honest with your kids and coaches throughout the whole process.
Parents shouldn’t act as their kid’s sports agent. The prospective student athlete should be talking or communicating more to the coach than the parent throughout the process. If I’m getting a lot more calls from parents than the kid, that’s an obvious warning flag as you want to establish a connection with a player during the recruiting process.
It also makes a kids life easier if they’re realistic and honest with themselves about their abilities. Obviously each players desired schools will change as they get older but as they reach their sophomore or junior year, it’s important that they are honest with where they can end up with their abilities.
ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Shelley Sheiner or Kean University.