We spoke with Calvin College head coach Kyle Hofstaedter and assistant Graham Bergsma about the DIII recruiting scene and how high school recruits should go about target these schools. DIII is a different game because without athletic scholarships to offer, college coaches do not face the same restrictions on communication with recruits. What that means is learn about the school and be proactive in telling the coach why you think it may be a great fit for you.
What advice do you have for players interested in playing DIII lacrosse?
Graham: Understand the differences between divisions. Unlike DI and DII, DIII schools cannot give athletic scholarships to their athletes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t end up giving you more money, or making your overall cost lower. DIII schools often have great academic or merit grants and scholarships. Calvin, for example, gives excellent aid to students with good academics. Also, recruits should be looking at the school as a whole instead of focusing only on its lacrosse program. Find a school that fits you best. That means academically, athletically, and overall atmosphere. You’re spending the next 4 years of your life there, so make sure it is a place you would enjoy being every day.
Kyle: My biggest piece of advice is to be proactive with phone calls and emails. And when you make contact be sure to be professional. This means following up to emails in a timely manner. Answering the same day shows you really care, but answering several days later can tell a coach you don’t really care too much.
What indications help you determine if a good high school player will be a great college player?
Graham: I like to look at the little things. Is he making the right play, hustling on a ride or going hard for a ground ball. It’s not always about scoring. Don’t get me wrong, goals are great though. One of the big things that stands out to me is a smart player. If they are making the right decision, whether that be making the next pass, or making a hard aggressive move to the net and scoring. Recruits often make the mistake of either being a ball hog, or of passing too much. Making the right play for the situation is key. If the best play is to get underneath your defender and bury one… then do that. Holding onto the ball in a triple team however, is not often the best choice.
Kyle: Outside of game film I look for a certain level of professionalism. A recruit that holds himself to a higher standard is going to excel in a more demanding, rigorous college environment.
What’s a question you wished players asked you more during the recruiting process?
Graham: It really depends. Focus on learning more about the school or program at a deeper level. Just don’t ask questions that you can easily google to find the answer.
Kyle: When I’m meeting with a recruit I try to understand why they want to be at Calvin. What makes the program so special to them? You can always be honest. “Hey Coach, I never really heard of your school until I looked into your program recently. I’m also very interested in your engineering program.”
Graham: Show through your answers and overall demeanor that this isn’t a routine recruiting visit. It all comes down to your level of dedication. Don’t make a decision and regret it later because you didn’t ask the right questions and get enough information. Be able to ask the hard questions.
Great, thanks coaches, any final thoughts?
Graham: We can’t stress it enough, be professional and be timely with your communication. If you get an email from a coach and don’t have time to really respond at least let them know you got their message. “Hey Coach, I’m in class, I’ll get back to you later tonight.” I understand players might be intimidated by coaches sometimes, but trust me. Responding professionally will mean as much to a coach as your play on the field. It tells us something about who you are as a person, and a good coach recruits good people, not just great lacrosse players.
Kyle: Don’t string coaches along. Coaches and players don’t like to be mislead. It’s funny, the top recruits that are going to big time programs like Princeton or Hopkins actually follow up more often with me than any other recruits. Those guys are going to top tier programs because they can do the little things right consistently.