March 17, 2009

Part One (Sept. 2008): Free Fall? | Peer Review: Shannon Smith
Part Two (Oct. 2008): Passport to Campus | Peer Review: Gordie Wells
Part Three (Nov. 2008): Too Vested in Verbals? | Peer Review: Lily Ricci
Part Four (Dec. 2008): Piece of the Pie | Peer Review: Ilyssa Meyer
Part Five (Feb. 2009): Best Foot Forward
Part Six (March 2009): Camp Stories | Peer Review: What Camp Best Fits Me?

Recruiting is a topic on which families, prospects, coaches and others expend considerable resources, time and emotion. Lacrosse Magazine will delve into many of the sub-topics involved in a series of articles, augmented by personal stories from young men and women that have recently completed or are in the midst of the recruiting process.

Part Six of the series helps you navigate the summer camp circuit. This article appears in the March issue of LM, a US Lacrosse publication available exclusively to its members. Join today to start your monthly subscription.

Recruiting U: Camp Stories

by Brian Delaney | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Mount Hebron's (Md.) Kerianne Allen chose her camps last summer by narrowing down the colleges she wanted to attend. Read more about choosing the best camp for you.
© Kevin P. Tucker

We've seen the impressive growth of lacrosse on the field. The sport's growth in the marketplace, however, is no less noteworthy, and it has led directly to lucrative business opportunities in the way of summer camps and offseason club programs.

From the recruiting circuit to clubs to tournament showcases to basic instructional camps, there are more ways for high school lacrosse players to catch the eye of a college recruiter, and more ways for people to make money off that process, than ever before.

The bulk of the responsibility throughout this process falls to the player and his or her family. Through research, a critical eye and an aggressive approach, potential college recruits can maximize their summer investments without the need to second-guess past decisions.

Costly Decisions

Recruiting camps don't come cheap. Now more than ever, parents will want to make sure their kids are getting the most out of their financial commitment.

Fees generally range in the mid-hundreds, and don't include travel costs and generally don't include equipment. A three-day overnight camp like the New England Top 150 Lacrosse Camp, which draws waves of college coaches, goes for $600. The money is offset from a promotional standpoint by two main attractions: the promise of a camp staff that includes Georgetown men's coach Dave Urick and Brown's coach Lars Tiffany, among others; and the opportunity to showcase your skills against high-level competition.

Peter Worstell's California Gold Web site advertises the list of colleges that have already committed to attending his 2009 showcase. It's an impressive list, with many of the names synonymous with the college game's traditional elite (Hopkins, Syracuse, Duke, Cornell, etc.). Worstell's event is sponsored by Nike, and offers, among other things, a free pair of the shoe company's "Air Huarache" cleats to his campers. The $650 per-person fee does not include housing.

Those types of events are focused more on the competition, and less on improvement.

Instructional camps require specific homework.

Pete Duncan, who directs Rippin' Rope Lacrosse Camp in northern Delaware, said it's important for parents to inquire as to who will be doing the day-to-day instruction. Will the marquee guest be making a brief visit for a lecture? Or will that person stay for the duration?

"I would think, No. 1, ‘Who's going to be there teaching?'" Duncan said. "Who's going to be there for every minute for the five-day session? Does that camp seem to be more involved with telling you that this is the stick we're going to give you or the pinnie we're going to give you and this is who we're sponsored by? That's nice and all, but you should really look into the coaches and the teaching curriculum, drills and stations and what points of emphasis you are going to get covered at the camp."

Coaches at Camps


At a lot of camps, college coaches are generally paid stipends to work on the staff.

For them, the value is more than the paycheck, which for assistants especially is a vital contribution to their yearly income. It's also a way for college coaching staffs to get a third body out evaluating talent during the summer recruiting months.

NCAA rules say only two coaches per program can be out recruiting at a given time.

"That's sort of a loophole that has been taken advantage of by a lot of assistant coaches," said Ben DeLuca, Cornell's men's associate head coach.

Start-up camps trying to make a name for themselves pay coaches to attend their camps as recruiters, DeLuca said. Coaches could get a meal ticket, a $100 check and an information packet on the camp attendees just for showing up on a given day.

The directors then use that school's presence to further promote their camps.

Clubs or Camps?

More recently, the rise of the sport has given way to the rise in offseason club teams, which some college coaches are now pointing to as the best way to get noticed.

"I have an opportunity to see a lot more players at tournaments than at camps," West Chester University women's coach Ginny Martino said. "I would say that is true for most coaches. Players can be seen by so many more coaches at one time at tournaments. They also have the chance to play with higher caliber players on club teams as compared to who may attend a summer camp."

The key for recruits, Martino said, is to give the coaches of their preferred college teams plenty of advance notice when attending a tournament.

Paul Skulski, a sophomore midfielder at Cabrini, played for the Duke's Lacrosse Club in the Philadelphia area during his days at Garnet Valley (Pa.) High School. The exposure helped.

"It's expensive, but in the long run it really helps because it does get your name out there," he said. "The coaches see you play against good competition, as opposed to the (high) schools you play that aren't that good. It's definitely worth it in the long run."

Syracuse women's coach Gary Gait said that getting noticed by an elite program takes more than simply playing a few stops on the recruiting camp or tournament circuit.

"That's where the recommendation of a program or high school coach is really key," he said. "That's when we can ask, ‘Have you ever had any Division I caliber players? Who were they?' That gives us a sense of the player's talent."

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