“First, make sure this is the right school for you. If you feel that it is, we can then talk about lacrosse.”
“As hard as it may be, imagine suffering a career ending injury your freshman fall. Would you still want to be at the college that you’ve selected?”
DIII lacrosse, especially the NESCAC league, emphasizes the opportunity for athletes to have a certain balance between academics, social life and athletics. One major contribution to this is the absence of an official fall ball schedule.
As a high school lacrosse player with hopes of playing in college, one can be hyper-focused on the role of lacrosse and forget about other important aspects of choosing the right school. One of the best pieces of advice that I received from a mentor as I went through the college selection process was: “As hard as it may be, imagine suffering a career ending injury your freshman fall. Would you still want to be at the college that you’ve selected?” I stayed true to this advice, and as a result, found a place that fits me well with respect to academics, student culture, environment and community. Add to that a great lacrosse program and you’re going to have an unbelievable college experience.
There came a point in the process where I had to make a decision between playing Division I lacrosse and playing Division III lacrosse.
In no particular order, here are some of the reasons why I chose DIII, specifically Middlebury:
The Fall: DIII lacrosse, especially the NESCAC league, emphasizes the opportunity for athletes to have a certain balance between academics, social life and athletics. One major contribution to this is the absence of an official fall ball schedule. Rather, we rely on optional captains’ practices, lifting and cross training to prepare for the season. This makes the fall more low key than other programs and more self-directed. It also allows time for athletes to play other sports, focus on school work, or relax socially. By the time Feb. 15 rolls around (our official first practice in the NESCAC), the team is chomping at the bit and cannot wait to for the start of the season.
Multi-Sport Athletes: The optional fall ball at Middlebury also allows for athletes to compete in different sports across various seasons. We have several football/lacrosse, hockey/lacrosse, and soccer/lacrosse players at Middlebury. I even had a teammate, John Sales, who played on three varsity teams for four years: soccer, hockey and lacrosse. For an athlete with a passion for multiple sports and the desire to continue to play them throughout college, DIII could be a good choice.
Study Abroad: Both of my older brothers studied abroad in college and really enjoyed their experiences. Before I even applied to schools, I knew that I wanted to study abroad for a semester. At Middlebury we have about 75 percent of the juniors on our team study abroad each fall. It is a great opportunity to live in a foreign place, experience a new culture and broaden your horizons. I give a lot of credit to my coaches and my program that this is a supported and encouraged decision. I know one thing that is for certain: I will never regret or forget the six months that I spent in Sydney, Australia! If study abroad is something that you are considering, be sure to ask a future coach about it when visiting a school.
Level of Ability / Level of Competition:Find a school that matches your abilities and potential abilities. Aim high and give yourself room to grow and develop as a player; with continued work and effort you will improve throughout college. At the same time, be realistic about what you want to get out of your college lacrosse experience. On some teams, you can start from day one of your freshman year, others you will have to wait your turn and slowly work your way into the lineup, and in other programs you may never see consistent time. Have an honest discussion with a potential coach about your prospects as a member of a given team and consider your desired role.
When looking at Middlebury, then-coach Erin Quinn said to me, “First, make sure this is the right school for you. If you feel that it is, we can then talk about lacrosse.” Search for the school and the program that are the best fit for you in every area of your life and you are bound to have an unbelievable college experience. Good luck!