With an accelerated recruiting process young players feel more pressure to commit early rather than assess all their possible college options. The question on recruits’ minds is often where can I commit to play lacrosse? Instead young players should consider asking themselves where can I find the best balance between academics and lacrosse. The best ‘fit’ for a young player will be a school that allows them to develop into a well-rounded person who reaches their potential academically and athletically.
This week we caught up with Michael Caravana, the head coach of Denison University. Currently, the Big Red are 7-0 and are ranked 5th in the Division III USILA Top 20 Poll. Coach Caravana has been at the helm of the program for over 20 years and is one of the winningest coaches in college lacrosse. He draws his knowledge of the game from his playing experience at the University of Virginia, where he was a 4x All American, and from his coaching days as an assistant at Brown and an assistant for the U.S. Men’s National team.
Coach Caravana believes that good players become great players when they can compete at their best on a consistent basis. This starts with preparation off the field and a strong desire to get better every day.
What advice do you have for players interested in Division III schools?
It’s important for young players to realize that the level of competition at the top Division III programs is similar to the competition at mid-tier Division I schools.
Division III athletes may also find a greater life balance. In the offseason, there are less practices and players have time to do other things like study abroad. Ultimately, a player controls their commitment level and how much they will improve as a player in the offseason.
What is the best way for players to get on your radar?
Contacting a coach directly is always effective. Give the coach a highlight film so that the coaching staff can assess your game. Being a good student is important also. Coaches look at indicators like GPA and sometimes standardized test scores.
What type of players do you look for, raw athlete or refined lacrosse players?
It’s important to have a combination of athleticism and lacrosse skills. Being highly competitive and having the ability to play hard is great too. Most freshmen do not contribute to their teams as freshmen. But being able to compete and get better as a lacrosse player and an athlete ensures that a young player will develop into a contributing member.
What areas of development would you recommend players focus on to compete at the Division III level?
The ability to constantly get better is important. This starts with practice habits and preparation. Do not give your coaches mediocre effort. At the college level, lacrosse becomes AP lacrosse, not Honors lacrosse. Good students cannot expect to do well when they turn in B or B- work. Students need to turn in A or A+ work in order to truly succeed. The same goes for lacrosse.
How has the accelerated recruiting landscape impacted your approach to recruiting?
With top Division 1 programs picking their players earlier on we’re given another pool of lacrosse players. We have the ability to identify good recruits, but also find players who fit academically. It becomes less about lacrosse and more about where a student fits as a person and as a student-athlete.
ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Denison University or Mike Caravana.