Gary Mercadante Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach @ Delaware Valley University Interview

Gary Mercadante was named the first-ever men’s lacrosse head coach in Delaware Valley history on August 12, 2013. After spending the first year organizing the program an Delaware Valleyd recruiting, he has led the squad to 13 wins and one conference playoff appearance in just two seasons of competition. Mercadante led the 2015 edition to five wins – the most victories by an Aggie team in any sport in their inaugural season. They won the program’s first-ever game, an 8-7 triumph over Immaculata University, and produced victories in three of its first four games. Prior to coming to Delaware Valley, Mercadante spent four years as a full-time assistant coach at nearby Ursinus College. He was the defensive coordinator for the Bears and also coached the man down unit as well as running the substitution box. Mercadante also served as the team’s academic, budget, recruiting and video editing/software coordinator.

  1. What do you look for in a recruit? What type of player best fits your program?

While evaluating on the field we always look for athleticism and consistent effort.  We play a fast tempo style of lacrosse and want players who can sustain that effort and intensity for 60+ minutes.  Players tend to evaluate their own play based on the time they spend with the ball or covering the ball, but this is only a small percentage of the game.  I always make a point to watch off-ball to see if a player does the little things consistently well.  Among many others, these can include setting screens, back cutting, chasing out shots, winning GBs, picking off passes in a skip lane, and being in position to cover two players at once. Once the recruiting process begins, we spend a lot of time getting to know student-athletes and their families.  We want great people who want to leave our University and program a better place than when they got here.

  1. What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

Have a plan.  If you are interested in a school, reach out to the coach with a personal email. Let us know why you are interested and where you will be playing (tournaments, club team, etc.). Do your research. I am impressed when I speak with a student-athlete who is knowledgeable about our university, what we offer, and our program. It demonstrates you have taken the time to educate yourself about us and have a legitimate interest in the school and our team.

  1. What areas of player development should recruits be focused on?

There is a lot of pressure on young players right now to focus all their time and effort strictly on lacrosse.  Be an athlete!  Multi-sport players demonstrate stronger IQ’s and develop quicker as athletes.  Some of the best players I have coached were two sport athletes in high school competing in sports such as football, hockey, and basketball.  The skills they acquired from these sports helped them immensely on the lacrosse field.  Lastly, your stick should be an extension of your arm.  Commit to the wall on a weekly basis with fun and realistic wall ball routines.

  1. What common recruiting mistakes should players and parents avoid?

In navigating the landscape of college recruiting, it is important to view it as a job process.  You are currently building your resume and everything you do as a student-athlete on and off the field is a part of that resume.  Before you even search for the job you must first do a few important things: A phone call is our primary point of contact with student-athletes. Start by creating a simple, mature voicemail.  College coaches will call you on your phone and you want to leave a strong first impression.  Also, make sure your voicemail is not full.  Eventually a coach will stop calling if they are unable to get in touch with you and cannot leave a voicemail. This sounds very simple, but happens much more than people would think.  Second, create an email account with an easy to use address that you can use for tournaments and college coaches.  Do not use your parent’s email address. Take ownership of the college search process.  Players often make the mistake of mass emailing us through recruiting services or having their parents send emails for them.  An email from a parent on behalf of a student-athlete is a big red flag.  The student-athlete will take on all the responsibility once they get to the college level and it does not project well when a parent does everything for the them.

  1. What should a recruit include in a message to you that will draw your attention?

We pride ourselves on responding to every personal email we receive.  A well written email from a student-athlete that shows genuine interest in our University and program gets our immediate attention.  Don’t be afraid to promote your success as a student and athlete.  Lastly, include a highlight film.  The quicker we can evaluate your play, the sooner we can begin the recruiting process.


ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Gary Mercadante or Delaware Valley University Interview

Recruiting Insight with NECC Coach of the Year Otero


Thomas Otero just finished his second season as Head Coach of Southern Vermont. He has led the team to two tournament appearances in as many years of the team’s existence. Coach Otero was named NECC Coach of the Year and he also coached the NECC Player of the Year this year. Coach Otero has been coaching for forty years and worked as an educator for thirty.

1. What advice do you have for players interested in DIII schools?

You have to pick a school that you want to go to for your educational choices first and then your athletic choices second. You have to research the schools that you want while gaining the most information possible by talking to current students at those universities.

2. What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

We’re a small school and mostly regional in the northeast area. We also get some people from Florida and California as well because of the lack of small, DIII schools in those areas. Personal emails also do a lot because it shows true interest. Filling out the recruit me questionnaire continues to show interest and phone calls are great as well.

3. What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?

I want the athlete who is dedicated, has great work ethic, and will push themselves to be a good student, a good person, and a good lacrosse player. Sometimes that person is the raw athlete and sometimes it’s the seasoned athlete that I can teach new things in order for them to become a better athlete.

4. What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?

Number one—STICK SKILLS!! Wall ball is the best. If you can do 15 minutes of wall ball everyday then your stick skills will dramatically increase. You must be ambidextrous at the collegiate level to bring your game to the next level. The game of lacrosse is highly technical and stick skills are at the center of that.

5. How has the accelerated recruiting landscape impacted your approach to recruiting?

Being a small school, sometimes we get pushed out into the fringe. There’s a lot of push right now to modify the recruiting profile and I think that is most likely on the horizon.

6. Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?

This is a big decision for the athlete. Go and see the schools! Experience them! Look at class size and location. They need to ask themselves, “Are they going to be happy here if they don’t have lacrosse in their life?” And if the answer to that question is yes, then that school most likely is a great fit. It should not be a snap decision, it should be timely with a lot of thought process.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Thomas Otero or Southern Vermont College.

Recruiting Insight with Cedar Crest’s Head Coach Danielle Bay


Danielle Bay just finished her first season as head coach of the
women’s lacrosse at Cedar Crest College, where she is also the Director of Compliance. Coach Bay graduated from Centenary College in 2012 and finished as the All-Time Leader in points and caused turnovers.

We sat down with Coach Bay to learn about her growing program at Cedar Crest and what makes the DIII experience so great.

What advice do you have for players interested in DIII schools?

Continue to explore your DIII options for schools. All of the schools are completely different, some are more intense, some are bigger, others smaller. Academics are the number one priority in DIII. Academics always come first at Cedar Crest, but there are still high expectations set that players are expected to reach on the field as well.

What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

Email, call, message, carrier pigeons, smoke signal, anything to let me know that you’re interested in Cedar Crest. I’m usually in the office so just call and I’m more than happy to answer all and any questions. I give my cell phone out to many of the recruits so they can contact me at any time and I’ll even text. Just show interest, that’s the most important part.

What type of players do you primarily look for and where?

Raw athletes as well as refined lacrosse players. Raw athletes can be molded into players that fit perfectly into the program. Refined players are helpful because Cedar Crest is a growing program so they can immediately help the program reach new heights and be impact players. By going to a lot of high school games during the spring, mainly within a two hour radius around Cedar Crest, it offers an advantage of becoming extremely familiar with players as they grow. I go to a ton of camps and clinics and basically every tournament. If you email us about a tournament, chances are we’re already attending.

What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?

Stick skills! Stick skills are an issue at every level of the sport, regardless of division. It is very important that players work on their stick outside of scheduled practice time because players do not get enough touches in during that time. You can never be too good at stick skills! An hour a day outside of practice does wonders to improve ones’ skills.

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

The accelerated recruiting landscape has not affected Cedar Crest and myself much. If girls are truly more interested in their academics then they’ll be looking at DIII anyway, which is what is wanted at Cedar Crest because academics always come first.

Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?

TAKE YOUR TIME. There is no need to rush through the process. Take your time researching schools and figure out what you actually want in a school, with academics and in the actual school itself, but make sure to take the time to visit. Many people get a special feeling when they walk on a campus and instantly know where they belong, but you should still try to stay overnight to see if you truly love the atmosphere and go to classes to see if it’s a fit. Most importantly, take your time.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Danielle Bay or Cedar Crest University.

Recruiting Insight with Kean University Head Coach Shelley Sheiner

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.

Continue reading…

Recruiting Insight with Hartwick College Assistant Coach Henry La Sala

One aspect a recruit looks for when joining a school is the state of the coaching staff.  As a young man, it’s important to find a coaching staff that cares about your future but also knows how to work well together themselves.  Hartwick College is a school that comes to mind when you think of a well put together coaching staff as they have a very unique quality, which is two brothers working the sideline together.  Henry LaSala, one of the two brothers on the staff, serves as assistant coach of Hartwick College.

Coach LaSala is entering his 2nd year as a member of the Hartwick coaching staff.  Success has followed LaSala throughout his career as prior to joining Hartwick, he served as an assistant coach on numerous top ranked Adrian College teams.

We sat down with Coach LaSala to learn more about the up and coming Hartwick program as well as what players stand out on his recruiting radar. Some players might think being a specialist is what gets you into college, but Coach LaSala tells players otherwise as he and the rest of the Hartwick staff value versatility over anything.

What advice do you have for players interested in Division III schools?

Figure out what you want criteria wise.  What do you want to study, do you want a big school, near a city or a town setting?  Once you figure those questions out, visit as many schools as possible that fit your criteria.  Don’t close the door because maybe a team didn’t do as well the year before but you might find something that you won’t expect or will entice you when you do make a visit.

What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

Email us with a video.  Spark our interest that way and keep us updated as to where you will be playing as we keep a pretty good job of getting out and seeing the guys that do email and come in touch with us.

What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?

Right now we’re leaning more towards a raw athlete.  We look for guys that can fill more than one role as we’re getting away from the specialized mindset of lacrosse.  We don’t necessarily need a specific player, but rather a guy who is athletic enough who comes in as an attackmen but can fill the role as a midfielder.  Or a face-off guy who is confident staying on the field after the face-off. We want versatile guys who can fill more than one role for us.

What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?

Biggest thing is I think is getting tougher.  There are so many events out there that kids are playing so much lacrosse that it’s hard to keep the competitive level up.  A guy who is tough stands out from the crowd at all of the various lacrosse tournaments and events.

We look at which guys are playing hard and working hard, but not just necessarily on the ball. We want guys who are working hard away from the ball, whether that be recovering on defense or working hard to support the ball on offense.  We want guys who are competing at all times on the field.

What is special about playing at Hartwick College?

Best thing is about Hartwick is that we offer an opportunity to play right away. We’re a brand new coaching staff, going into our 2nd year.  We’re recruiting our first fully recruited class this year so the opportunity to play right away is a realistic opportunity with us.

Also, our conference, the Empire Eight is one of the top Division III conferences.  Year in year out there seems to be 2-3 teams from the Empire Eight in the top 20.  If we position ourselves towards the top of the conference then we will have a chance to be top 20, which is a unique opportunity to have in Division III.

Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?

Understand that at the next level that a lot of work goes into it.  You really have to love this sport to play in college.  You’re putting in a lot of hours, whether it is practice, meetings, scouting report, film, study hours, for an opportunity to play 14 times a season.  Kids must understand that even though it is a very rewarding experience, it is also a very serious commitment.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Henry LaSala or Hartwick College.

Recruiting Insight with Elizabethtown College Head Coach Drew Delaney

As high school students begin to go through the recruiting process, there are many aspects of college that any student will look into. Drew Delaney of Elizabethtown College is one who is very knowledgeable of not only the aspects that make a lacrosse team great, but also what makes a college experience special.

Coach Delaney began his tenure at Elizabethtown in the summer of 2013.  In his second year in 2015, he and the Blue Jays soared with a 14-3 record as well as a 7-0 conference record.

This success is nothing new to Delaney as he came to Elizabethtown with 10 years of coaching experience behind him.  As Coach Delaney continues to build a special program at Elizabethtown, we sat down with him to learn more about what makes a recruit standout, as well as what makes Elizabethtown such a extraordinary experience for any lacrosse player.

What advice do you have for players interested in Division III schools?

The biggest thing when starting their college search is to figure out what type of institution they’re looking for whether it is size, location, or what majors they want.  At the end of the day this is a huge investment.  Lacrosse is an aspect of their decision, so these students need to find the right fit academically and a place that’s going to put them where they want to be at the end of their 4 years.

What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

I always tell players recruiting is not going to happen to them.  They have to be proactive in being found by coaches.  To get on our radar we’re looking for students who are reaching out via email and phone.   Letting us know of their interest, letting us know why they’re interested.   Providing important things like transcripts, highlights, and SAT scores are something every coach is looking for so be prepared to provide them.  The guys that are organized in getting things to coaches are the ones that stand out in the crowd.

What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?

I think we’re looking for is potential.  With the new accelerated recruiting a lot of players are making their decisions early, which is leaving a lot of strong players who may not have developed as quickly.  We’re looking for someone who is exceptional in terms of skill level or possesses great potential in terms of athleticism.

We want to be one of the fastest teams in Division III.  We want to have an aggressive style and we want to find players who fit that style.  Having players who are slick and creative or athletes who are able to really push the tempo, those are the guys that really stand out to us.  And we obviously need defenders and goalies that don’t just get stops but create full field offense, as well.

What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?

Obviously keeping a stick in your hand, developing the ability to throw from any angle, building some creativity.  Also, working on foot speed, and increasing strength is going to help a young player get noticed and get an opportunity.  Guys should work on becoming lacrosse strong, not weight room strong.  Train to increase your range of motion, your flexibility and your explosiveness and don’t get caught up in how much weight you are using.

What is special about playing at Elizabethtown College?

What stands out to me in my two years with the program is just how passionate our student-athletes are about the institution, as well as the program. Our guys are involved in everything on campus, whether it be clubs, organizations, or intramurals.  They’re supportive of other students on campus and it’s a full college experience where you can be involved in as many things as you want.  Our guys can pursue a lot of great majors and also compete in the highest level of Division III.

Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?

The big thing families need to remember is it’s a big decision for these young men, as well as a big financial commitment, so it’s important to take their time.  These kids should do the research to find the right fit.  They shouldn’t feel pressure.  If students have done the work in classroom and on the field, they will have a lot of great opportunities.   Remember not making a decision quickly means you may miss out on one opportunity, but there will be many other great opportunities at another school.  Make sure you have the information you need to be comfortable making a commitment.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Drew Delaney or Elizabethtown College.

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.

Recruiting Insight with DePauw University Head Coach Carl Haas

When going through the college selection process, recruits will often make decisions based solely on the quality of the team or program they are planning on intending.  However, many coaches will be the first one to tell a recruit that there is also a life outside of lacrosse. Carl Haas of DePauw University is a successful coach when it comes to a growing program, but also understands what a student should get out of a college experience.

Coach Haas has been in the lead since the start, as he became the first men’s lacrosse head coach of DePauw University in 2012.  He and his players had a 6-9 record in their 2015 campaign, doubling their win total from the previous year.

We sat down with Coach Haas to hear more about the Midwest school that’s on the rise as well as some of his favorite things about DePauw.  Any recruit would be happy to find a program like DePauw that’s always trying to maximize it’s potential as well as giving it’s players an experience beyond the lacrosse field.

What advice do you have for players interested in Division III schools?

First of all make sure you’re doing your homework.  As far as researching what type of school it is, size, location and also gaining a feel of the school by visiting.  Also, when you visit a campus you should ask yourself, if I did not play lacrosse here would I be happy?  Lacrosse is a major piece of your college decision, but if you can find a school that you know you would enjoy outside of lacrosse then you are on the right path.

What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

We can’t see every kid out there, so if somebody has an interest in us definitely reach out to us.  Also, film is so important now, as it gives us insight into players that we can’t go see at every event.  So if you do reach out to us, with a video or just an email make sure you tell me about your grades, as we want to ensure that any prospective recruit could handle the academic rigor of a Division III school such as DePauw.

What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?

We want to get up and down the field, we want to run and gun.  We’re always looking for guys who are fast.  Beyond speed, we’ll look at a guy with a great skill set and also the guy who is a raw athlete.  Although we may not have the amount of time to be in contact with players, I like to believe there’s more coaching at this level. Due to the limited time that we have with players, we have to make sure that what we’re asking them to do is very clear, specific and has the ability to be accomplished.

For our system, we take the strengths that people bring to the table and make them work on our team.  We use the individual strengths that these players have and fit them into our system as we’d much rather do this than narrow in one specific skill type/player throughout the recruiting search.

What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?

The speed of the game at the college level is easier adjustable than most people think.  It’s the mental side of things that I find is what I find high school players struggle to adjust to.  Some guys aren’t exposed to this so the way to combat this and better yourself is to be the smartest lacrosse player you can be, whether that means watching film, watching high quality lacrosse or studying your own game.

What is special about playing at DePauw University?

First of all, the style of play is definitely a unique asset of our team.  If you want to play early we can offer that to you if you have the right skill set.  Every year we offer first year guys a chance to play as we always put out the best guys no matter the age.

Our school is definitely a hidden gem in terms of location.  This is starting to show as in this recruiting class we have guys coming in from California, Texas, North Carolina and Maryland.  We are starting to reach out to the coast, which is very important as we look to find talent anywhere. Also, we’re highly ranked academic institution.  We give study abroad opportunities, specialized business programs and we also have Greek life options if that interests a player.  We strive to take a proactive approach about the return on investment for the students.  We care about student athletes and their life after school.

Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?

Be honest with yourself. Say you’re a rising sophomore and a teammate commits, it will often make you feel pressure to commit right after.  You need to stay the course and go at your own pace and follow your own path.  There are 2-3 times more Division III schools than Division I schools, so the chances are just higher you will play Division III than Division I.  Be honest with yourself, be honest with your skill-set, be honest with how passionate you are and start to understand where you fit and which school you would excel at.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Carl Haas or DePauw University.

Recruiting Insight with Drew University Head Coach Thomas Leanos

Lacrosse might be an up and coming sport, but there is still room for continued success.  When you think of continued success, Tom Leanos out of Drew University is a name that comes to mind.  Drew University’s all-time leader in wins has served as head coach for over four decades.

Since Coach Leanos joined the coaching staff in 1983, his program has prided itself on being a top team as well as a close-knit community.  He and his players are all aware of the special bond that exists in this New Jersey school.

Coach Leanos has led the Rangers to the postseason 20 different times throughout his career. He believes that this team is poised for something special in the near future with the high character and class that his players show.  We sat down with Coach Leanos to learn a little more about the unique traits that he feels hint at great potential on the field, but also off the field and in the classroom.

What advice do you have for players interested in Division III schools?

The reality is that for a majority of young men who want to play lacrosse at the varsity level in College, Division 3 offers the most opportunity. There are presently over 200 colleges which sponsor men’s lacrosse at the D-3 college varsity level, which is greater then both D-1 and D-2 combined. The competition level is varied, offering players of different skill level to participate.  The academic quality is also varied, so just about anyone who really wants to participate may find a school that is a good fit.

What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

Students need to take charge of the process and don’t wait until your senior year to do so.

Use resources at your school (coaches, counselors, etc). Speak to your parents about the realities of location, academic quality, cost, quality of lacrosse program, etc. Then they, not their parents, should begin to roll their sleeves up and begin to communicate. Then begin to research the Colleges that realistically match your desires.

What impresses college coaches is when the players themselves are the one generating letters, emails, phone calls and text messages.   Coaches want to try and establish relationships with the players and best way to do that is for the students to initiate the process.

The college recruiting process has changed significantly since the information age. Don’t assume that your ability in lacrosse is going to get you into a school that might be a reach for you academically. Your grades and test scores create more opportunities and expand your possible choices.

Log into college athletic websites to see about prospect days, open houses, etc. Contact a coach by email and attach a copy of a video of your play, and your transcript. Schedule a day visit to the school and a meeting with the coach and be prepared for this visit.

Remember, coaches either recruit players, or players recruit colleges! Don’t assume that your academic fit is necessarily the right athletic fit, or vice versa. The college coach will give you that info, as will the college admissions office.

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

The culture has really changed over the past 4-5 years with the summers and club programs.  It pushes the process from both the players perspective but also the coaches and colleges perspective.

Coaches who can receive early commitments in this environment really help their program and school.  Not only coming from the athletic department and coaches, but also coming from the admissions office, parents and students. It really means that the students, parents, coaches, admissions offices, etc. all have to be prepared for this early process. Early academic reads, likely letters, financial aid offers, athletic scholarship offers, and most importantly, families, need to be prepared earlier and earlier.

As a coach, I need to be prepared much earlier and so does my school. It’s a really different process then the regular student applicant approach to college search. I’ve really been pushed to become more fluent with my phone and my computer.

What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?

The first thing I look for is a young man that’s motivated.  One who displays interest in our school from the beginning and makes it known to us.  As much as players like to feel wanted by a coach, it goes both ways.  We look at the little things. Do they hustle, do they stand in the back of a huddle talking to their buddies when a coach is speaking. Do they have good lacrosse or sports IQ.  We want guys who are eager and are good citizens. Raw athletes need to be developed with time. A refined lacrosse player with good skills is great but the better the level of the college program, the deeper the team will be with skilled players. The intangibles may make the difference in the long run. Are they good students? A player who isn’t clouded by concern for grades, or other campus issues will be able to focus more on what he is able to give to the team while on the practice and game field.

We try to do our homework on our recruits. Many times from recommendations from their high school or club coaches, as well as our own players who may host a young man for an overnight campus visit. We want young men who are willing to “buy in” to what it takes to be a successful college athlete both on the field and off the field.

What is special about playing at Drew University?

From the beginning, Drew’s location stood out to me as distinctive. Drew is geographically situated in the middle of the highest concentration of  high school lacrosse in the country withNY, NJ, PA, New England, and MD all within 4 hours from campus.  The location near one of the most vibrant cities in the world offers our students a variety of opportunities while they are undergraduates as well as graduates.

Also, we are members of the Landmark Conference in lacrosse. It is competitive from top to bottom. Since 2008, which was the inaugural season for the conference lacrosse play, we have seen 6 schools win the conference tournament title (Drew, Merchant Marine, Goucher, Scranton, Susquehanna, and Catholic.) and advance to Post Season play.  Although Merchant Marine will be departing the Landmark for the Skyline Conference, we have added Elizabethtown in 2015 and will add Moravian in 2017.

Drew is special because of the guys who have played here. They are close knit and support the program and are proud to be called Drew Rangers!  They enrolled at Drew as young men and graduated as men! In the last week, I have dinner with two of my former players who are attorney’s in Morristown, NJ, and spoke to one of our HOF players who just became a dad!  This is what it’s all about! This is what makes Drew special!

Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?

Do your homework, research the school and get to know it before you begin making decisions.  It will make your experience so much better in terms of going into a program that you have an understanding of the feel of the school. Also, if you go visit a school, try and check out a class and spend a night on campus.  Also, try to spend a similar night on campus, not just a Friday or Saturday. Evaluate the campus’ during a time when it’s not just about the social activities That way you will have a much better feel as to what the school is like on a day-to-day basis

Also, college isn’t utopia. It rarely satisfies all of your dreams and aspirations! Give it time! If at the end of your college playing days you can say that you got a quality education, had a satisfying athletic experience, made lifelong friends, and learned much about yourself and how you relate in a team environment, then your experience has been a good one.

As Earl Weaver, baseball HOF manager once said! “It’s what I learned after I thought that I knew it all that made a real difference in my managing”!

Go Rangers!

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Tom Leanos or Drew University.

Recruiting Insight with Bridgewater College Head Coach Mic Grant

The lacrosse world is well-aware that the state of Virginia is home to some of the highest quality lacrosse programs in the country across all divisions.  Division III Bridgewater College is in it’s 4th year, but well on it’s way to joining this level of success. The Eagles are led by Coach Mic Grant, who is no stranger to building a program from the start.

Prior to starting the Bridgewater program, Coach Grant built Marywood University from the ground up as a head coach.  Throughout his successful tenure with Marywood, he won the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Coach of the Year along with earning the program’s first ECAC tournament bid.

Coach Grant and the Bridgewater Eagles went 6-11 this past year with a 5-6 record on their home field. He is set to begin his 4th year with Bridgewater College this upcoming season.

Grant’s approach to the game is one that rewards hard work and a balanced mindset.  We were fortunate enough to sit down with the up and coming program’s head coach.

What advice do you have for players interested in Division III schools?

Don’t be misled by the fact that it’s Division III.  There’s a lot of high quality players that play at the Division III level, certainly so at Bridgewater and our conference, which is the ODAC (Old Dominion Athletic Conference).  Don’t be turned off by the Division III label, make sure you look at the school, look at the conference and make sure it has the right academics for you and see if you can jump in and make an immediate impact on the team.

What is the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?

The best way is to reach out to us whether it be through call or email.  We always appreciate it when potential recruits ask about the school and let us know what tournaments they’re attending throughout the year.  A link to a highlight clip, game footage is always helpful as well.  Just initiate the contact as once we get an email or call, we always follow up and try to do our best to see players throughout the year.

What importance do you place on a highlight tape?

The highlight tape is a great icebreaker but we don’t put a lot of emphasis on it.  We tell our recruits at Bridgewater to send us your game film against one of your better opponent so that we can see all aspects of the game.  Through this, we can then see riding, clearing, hustling, basically all the components of a game that can help us learn about the player.  The highlight tape is a great icebreaker but we don’t put a lot of emphasis on it.

What type of players do you primarily look for, a raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?

We look for the well-rounded player as our initial look in recruiting is for players who are Division I caliber players who maybe don’t want the overwhelming task of being a Division I player.  We look for someone who wants to get a good education, compete at the highest Division III level, wants to have a college life, wants to study abroad or might want to establish connections and work internships.  Good character is vital as players who work hard off the field is equally, if not more important than how hard they work on the field.

What areas of player development would you recommend players focus on to elevate their game?

I would say fundamentals.  We’ve gotten away from kids being fundamentally sound with all these new recruiting camps and things like that.  Kids are constantly trying to do things outside of their abilities without sticking to the basics.  On offense I’d say that players should really focus on being a multi-threat with both hands, while on defense players should focus on having really good feet.  Also, any goalie should be a great communicator first and foremost.  Really focus on the fundamentals and make sure they’re as sharp as they can be by the time you hit college as they certainly will get more refined during college.  There are so many good teams and good programs out there that the window for an incoming player isn’t as great as some kids believe at times, and having quality fundamentals can really set a player apart.

What is special about playing at Bridgewater College?

You get to play at one of the premier conferences in Division III and play against Top 20 teams weekly usually.  At Bridgewater we’re an athletic school as one-third of the student body are varsity athletes and we take a lot of pride in athletics and facilities.  We look to provide the best possible experience in the course of 4 years for all students.  We do have flexibility as some Division III programs you must scrape to get by with fundraising or travel, but at Bridgewater we’re very fortunate to not have to worry about that due to our focus on athletics.

Are there any last pieces of advice for players and families you’d like to share?

Don’t be afraid to look at Division III schools where you can make an impact. Look at a school where you can get a great education and be an impact player and really enjoy your experience.

ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Mic Grant or Bridgewater College.