It’s the little things such as having a positive attitude on and off the field and brushing things off when the ball doesn’t bounce your way that helps coaches differentiate between good high school players and great college players. Anyone can score goals but being a great teammate and always hustling are just as important. We spoke with Eastern Connecticut State University Head Coach Justin Axel about the significance of doing the little things the right way in order to get noticed. In the summer of 2007, former Salisbury University recruiting coordinator Justin Axel was named as the first full time head men’s lacrosse coach in the history of the Eastern Connecticut State University men’s intercollegiate lacrosse program.
In five years, Axel has compiled an overall record of 81-42 (68.5 percent), leading the Warriors to a 42-4 regular-season conference mark, three Little East Conference playoff championships, three undefeated LEC regular-season crowns, and the program’s first win ever in the NCAAs.
What advice do you have for players interested in playing DIII lacrosse?
The best advice I could give to players interested in playing DIII lacrosse is to continue to play multiple sports in high school. Don’t focus so much on one sport but rather continue being a well-rounded athlete. Do the extra workouts, kids that do their homework have the leg up on those who have skipped the weight room.
What’s the best way to get on your recruiting radar? Any things recruits shouldn’t do?
There are a couple things recruits should do in order to get on our recruiting radar. Send emails to coaches asking about their prospect days, include your schedule with the tournaments and showcases you will be attending over the summer. Don’t be afraid to follow-up with a coach and stay up to date with your academic and lacrosse information.
Recruits should not have emails sent by mom and dad. We want to see the recruit taking the initiative not their parents; coaches can tell when a parent writes an email and when the player writes it.
What’s a question you wished recruits asked you more during the recruiting process?
Personally, I wished recruits asked questions along the line of what do you expect and what are you looking for from me the player? How many players are you bringing in? How have student-athletes in the past found success in particular majors and after college searching for jobs?
These types of questions help coaches give recruits accurate answers during the recruiting process.
What are a few indicators that help you determine whether a good high school player will become a great college player?
We look for players who show great effort and are always hustling to the ball. Also, we look to determine what type of character a player has. Is this a good kid? What about his mental demeanor? Is he able to brush things off and keep working when the ball doesn’t bounce his way? All of these factors help us determine whether a good high school player will become a great college player.
What’s special about being a student-athlete Eastern Connecticut State University?
Eastern Connecticut State University is a really special place where lacrosse is truly valued and important. Lacrosse at a lot of college campuses doesn’t really hold much importance especially in Division III.
How has the accelerated recruiting process impacted your approach to recruiting?
The accelerated recruiting process has placed a tremendous amount of strain and pressure on student athletes. Unfortunately, kids in high school feel the need to make an incredibly important decision at such a young age because the accelerated recruiting process allows recruits to verbally commit as early as 8th grade.
However some kids don’t grow into their bodies until much later in high school and these diamonds in the rough sometimes fall to DIII programs like Eastern Connecticut State University and have tremendous success at our level.
ConnectLAX is a third party recruiting service and not affiliated with or endorsed by Eastern Connecticut State University or Justin Axel.