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Both Sides Of The Coin – Part Two: How To Play College Lacrosse And Not Let It Play You!

  This second part is based on the experience of Paul Davis and his son Dalton, a Saint Andrew’s player who did not go the D1 route.  We featured Dalton last year in an interview on the site and here’s a taste of the Davis family’s experience and the lessons learned.  The photo is courtesy of Bill Hughes.   Let’s face it, most up and coming lacrosse player’s dreams are largely centered around playing lacrosse on Saturday for an ACC powerhouse program like Duke, UNC or Syracuse. Sometimes dreams do come true for the tiny fraction of high school players who possess truly elite level skills that will give them a chance to compete at the Division I level. The sobering reality though is that the vast majority of current high school players simply do not possess the natural born physical ability to succeed at the Division I level much less ever see the field if they were lucky enough to get recruited to one of these schools. Unfortunately, many really good players don’t realize this sad fact of life and fail to make the right moves in the recruitment process. Some end up quitting the sport when they don’t receive the offers they grew up dreaming about. The family spends a lot of money going to recruitment camps and events that are not tailored to their actual abilities and in the end, the system of lacrosse recruiting can play them right out of their chances to play college lacrosse anywhere. Part of the solution to this challenge is for the young athlete, and more importantly his parents, to recognize that it is critical to make the sport of lacrosse work for you, to your advantage! One of the ways to do this is to be honest in assessing your real on the field capabilities and move your recruiting target to the DII or DIII level early in the recruiting process.  In my opinion, the largest return on your higher education investment dollars might very well rest with the academically higher ranked Division III Colleges; they are increasingly becoming the smarter option for Florida lacrosse players. Most of these great academic institutions are to be found competing in the NESCAC, LIBERTY, ODAC, NEWMAC and other conferences and include fantastic schools like Tufts, Trinity, Middlebury, Amherst {NESCAC}- Bard, Vassar, Union, Skidmore, RPI {Liberty}- MIT, Babson {NEWMAC}- Washington & Lee, Roanoke, Hampton-Sydney, Randolph-Macon {ODAC} just to name a few. The complete list of Florida athletes who have wisely selected this level of competition is too long to mention here but includes outstanding players who have or are currently making their own history on the field and includes Jim Kalkavan at Tufts, Robert Nogueras at Trinity, Keith Fernandez and Zach Schwartz at Amherst, Keith Mahler and Reid McCool at Trinity, Grant Schultz at Middlebury, Dalton Davis at Bard, Parker Sargeant, Nick Diamond, Austin Haymes at Vassar, Alex Newhouse at Union, Cody Legaza at Skidmore, Robert Jacobs at Kenyon, Jake Leggates and Drew Minshew at Roanoke, Luke Langford at Washington & Lee and Harris Stolzenberger and Bobby Rausch at MIT. At the end of the day, having a successful and rewarding experience playing college lacrosse depends on many factors including achieving playing time and winning a starting position. The real winners however are the lucky ones that give it their all on the playing field and then graduate with a degree in hand that can deliver a lifetime of success.  
Lee’s Note: The point about never seeing the field is something that is really overlooked a lot and Paul is spot on to point that possible reality out.  There is an assumption that having made the team that playing time will follow.  Put that thought out of your head right away.  I have seen STARTING PLAYERS at D1 schools from Florida LOSE their playing time after a coaching change.  This is not a fixed situation, it is a fluid one.  This argument by itself needs to be part of your thinking when picking a college.  And it works both ways . . . if you DON’T get recruited by the school of your choice and you really want to go to that school, DO SO!  If you never play again but get to graduate from where you want to that’s the better result than 4 years of starting at a program, D1 or otherwise, and not being happy with the experience after the fact!  ALL D1 schools will offer walk-on tryouts, if you are good enough YOU WILL MAKE THE TEAM.  We have plenty of examples of that from Florida kids, at Duke, JHU and Syracuse, where one of those walk-ons is now a likely FIRST TEAM All American this year. Thank you Paul for sharing your experience!