May 1, 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?
Part Seven (April 2009): Be True to Your School?
Part Eight (May 2009): Transfer of Power | Peer Review: Q&A with an Early Commit
Part Nine (October 2009): Are You the Diamond in the Rough? | Think D-III
Part Ten (November 2009): Me Time | Peer Review: Kayleigh Hynes

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 Eight of the series focuses on early decisions that are not always the best decisions. This article appears in the May issue of LM. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to start your monthly subscription.

Recruiting U: Transfer of Power

by Andy Krauss | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Although college lacrosse hasn’t become the big-time business that college basketball and football have, many common threads between these sports have developed over the years.

Two of those threads are transfer students and the increasingly-pressurized world of recruiting.

Lacrosse Magazine explored the connection between the two, although certainly not every transfer is the result of a mistake made during the recruiting process. Research indicates students transfer for any of a multitude of reasons — academic pursuits, homesickness, college settings and religion among them.

Some case studies:

A Brand New Program

In the summer before her senior year in high school, Brittany Poist received a unique opportunity. The University of Louisville was starting a program in the spring of 2008 and decided to target Poist as part of its first recruiting class.

“I thought they were kidding,” said Poist. “Why would anyone want to start a lacrosse program in Kentucky?”

Poist visited the campus in September and was immediately turned on. She noticed the excitement that lacrosse was building all over campus. After numerous discussions with head coach Kellie Young, she knew that Louisville was the school for her.

“The allure of starting a new program became a big draw,” said Poist. “It was something different and I always wanted to do something different.”

Later that month, Poist made a commitment to become a Cardinal. At the onset of her freshman campaign, she enjoyed the freshness of the program: the first goal, the first win and so on. She even made a name for herself, leading the nation with 56 caused turnovers.

However, Poist struggled with her decision as time went on. She was frustrated that the program lacked tradition, legacy or alumni. She also was bothered that her parents had to make the long trek from Hampstead, Md., for every game.

Late in the season, she decided to walk into Young’s office and tell her that Louisville wasn’t the school for her. Young granted Poist her release immediately.

On her ride back to Maryland with her parents, Poist realized where she wanted to wind up. She wanted a place with tradition and proximity. The University of Maryland fit that bill rather nicely. With 10 national championships and alumna Cathy Reese at the helm, wanting to become a Terrapin was a no-brainer.

Today, the sophomore is starting at defense for the Terps and couldn’t be happier. Although Poist feels happy about her move, she holds nothing but respect for Louisville.

“I wouldn’t be at Maryland now if I hadn’t gone to Louisville first,” she said. “It makes you appreciate all of the aspects of Maryland, when you’ve been somewhere else.”

The Landing Pad

Most teams only claim a handful of transfer students on their roster, if any at all. However there is one Division II men’s program in Old Westbury, N.Y., which thrives off of athletes who are looking for second chances.

The New York Institute of Technology has won three of the last six NCAA titles, including last year’s. This season, its 37-man roster includes 14 transfers. Ten of them come from four-year schools.

Jack Kaley has been at the helm of the program since 1993. In that time, he realized that he will rarely get commitments from all of his top recruits, but also knows that they can eventually come back to become a Bear some day.

“Some of our recruits coming out of high school look at Division II as Division 22. We tell them that Interstate 95 has two lanes, north and south,” said Kaley about his New York-based recruits that may choose to play at Division I schools off of Long Island.

He thrives on the players that are eager to go away after high school and then realize that life isn’t always greener on the other side. His style of run-and-gun lacrosse and school of second chances often attracts the Long Island talent to come back.

Current senior midfielder Matt Messina was an All-American at Sayville High School on Long Island. The lure of Division I brought him to the University of Delaware. He felt pressure from most schools to commit before Aug. 1 of his senior year in high school, so he made a verbal commitment on July 21 to become a Blue Hen.

“I started to second-guess myself in the fall of my senior year, but there was nothing I could do about it,” said Messina. “I had a verbal, binding agreement.”

Agreements between prospects and schools are only binding when both parties sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI), which prospects in lacrosse can do in early November of their senior years in high school.

As his freshman season went on, Messina realized that the D-I style wasn’t for him and realized it was time for a change at the end of the season. That summer, he became a Bear. Last season, as a junior, he scored two goals in the national championship game.

“In my freshman year of college, I really matured a lot,” said Messina. “I learned a lot about myself.”

Teammate Matt Sullivan went through a similar experience. The attackman was an All-American at nearby West Islip High School and also was heavily recruited. Towson University was the first school to contact him on July 1 and Sullivan felt he had to act fast.

“A lot of coaches wanted an early decision,” he said. “They want it in early August if you want to keep your scholarship money.”

Additionally, all of his friends on the Empire State Team were committing, putting more pressure on Sullivan.

Sullivan was glad to be a Tiger, but in the fall, he tore an ankle ligament. He took a medical redshirt in the spring and never fully recovered. After a year and a half, he felt it was time to come home.
Since returning to New York, Sullivan also has thrived, scoring 58 points in his first two seasons as a Bear.

“Looking back, I may have made my decision a little too quickly,” said Sullivan. “I should have taken more time. Originally, I wanted to go away, but I just realized it wasn’t for me.”

Obviously, Sullivan, Messina and Poist are not alone in transferring. There’s a perception among a considerable sample of coaches and others involved in the game that the number of transfers is on the rise, and the accelerated recruiting timeline plays a role in that.

Deciding where to attend college can be the most important decision of a young person’s life. It becomes a lot harder when they feel they need to make it long before any of their classmates.

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