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What exactly do coaches look for in recruits? What are the qual- ities that prospects must possess for coaches to pursue them?

What exactly do coaches look for in recruits? What are the qual- ities that prospects must possess for coaches to pursue them? And how does the decision-making process affect both coaches and recruits? To address these questions, let's consider the annual summer scenario at the Top 205 Camp at the University of Mary- land in College Park, an event geared toward facilitating the recruit- ing of lacrosse prospects among rising senior high school boys. This camp, which began in 1989, holds two overlapping sessions (each has three nights and four days) and draws more than 800 high school players who have been recommended by their coaches. NCAA recruiting bylaws (specifically, dictate that camps must be open to "any and all entrants (limited only by number, age, grade level and/or gender)" (2015-16 NCAA Division I Manual, 2015, p. 132), so the camp is filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Ac- cording to an observing journalist, "Players want to come because they know who is going to be watching" (McPhee, 2009, pp. 39- 40). The camp costs $700, and parents often are waiting outside the fields before and after sessions to hand coaches DVDs high- lighting their sons' exploits. All together, approximately 200 coach- es from programs across the country attend, mostly from schools located in the country's traditional lacrosse cradles: New England, Long Island, upstate New York, and the mid-Atlantic.

The coaches observe from their personal folding chairs— some under canopies attached to the chairs, others under large golf umbrellas—which are placed in a narrow strip between two parallel fields. The action on the field begins with one-on- one drills, then half-field scrimmages, then full-field scrimmages run by the camp's staff. The camp's coaches then draft teams: 20 teams, 22 players per team. University of Denver head coach Bill Tierney calls the camp "one-stop shopping for coaches." The coaches watch, make notes, and chat among themselves. The following is an example of an exchange about a specific player:

Coach 7 to Coach 8: He has pretty good skills, but he needs serious work in the weight room.

Coach 8: He can't play.

Coach 9: He's probably not going to get it done for us.

Coach 10: I don't think he can play for us, either.

Coach 11: He needs some work stickwise. He's pretty athletic, though. He's tough as shit. (McPhee, 2009, p. 39)

Much of the evaluation of players, however, is a private matter for coaches, consisting of the notes they make while they observe the action. When a player picks up a ground ball with

one hand and moves at a leisurely pace toward the goal crease and then throws a bad pass, "fifty coaches write 'lazy' or some- thing less flattering" (McPhee, 2009, p. 39).

Tierney took over the Denver program in 2009 after 22 years at Princeton, having led the Tigers to fourteen Ivy League and six NCAA championships, and then led the Pioneers to their first national championship in 2015. He made the following notes on certain players at the camp, assessing their skills and their knowledge of the game:

Goalies: "Good poise good position; quick hands; not bad stopper; oversteps w/ right foot; drops hands on right shot smart talks too much."

Players' defensive skills: "Very big, athletic, lazy on D; overaggressive; tall thin good slide fast tough; smallish good stick sees field no hustle on D; bad feet; good feet; no feet too much stick; slapper."

Players' offensive skills: "Loves to shoot; dumb shooter; just catch & finish, no dodge; skinny feeder gets in the way no move; black hole, not aware; slick in traffic, dances; chucker." (McPhee, 2009, p. 40)

Tierney sometimes writes "NTB" in his notes. He does this because parents are often looking over his shoulder at the camp, and he hopes they will think it means "not too bad." In reality, it means "not too bright." This assessment has nothing to do with the player's grades or test scores, but rather how he plays. Tier- ney generally attempts to assess size, speed, and skills, recog- nizing four speeds: slow, average, fast, and burner. According to Tierney: "A kid can be small if he's fast, but not if he isn't." Tier- ney's size categories include: dumpy, gross, huge, meatball, midget, stocky, and thick-ass dodger. The skills Tierney observes relate to stickwork, and he uses three simple ratings: bad, aver- age, and great. Says Tierney of a prospect's rating: "Size, speed, skills—you need to have two out of three. You can improve stick [skills], but not the other two." Echoing the comments of other coaches and managers we have read throughout this text, Tier- ney believes that "recruiting is a long-term investment," and at any given time he is in contact with 600 prospects—"kids who write us, and kids we write to" (McPhee, 2009, p. 40).

From the perspective of the coaches, the highlight of the camp occurs on the night of Day Three, when 44 of the top players in camp play in an All-Star game. In the matchup that McPhee describes, eight players are from the Baltimore/DC area, and six are from Long Island. Coaches, mostly standing on the end- lines of the field, outnumber players three to one. The campers who were not chosen for the game sit in the stands, watching, along with parents and siblings. Given the skills of the players chosen, the game is a joy to watch. "Goal answering goal. Fast. Full of isododging, inside rolls, two-on-ones, and Gilman clears," McPhee writes. Although many of the coaches are far enough along in the recruiting process with certain prospects "that they have come to regard them as theirs," there are plenty of other top players on the field, as well. The game ends in a tie and is settled in overtime. During the action, one player cradles the ball right-handed, goes into a rocker step, does an inside roll, sprints left, and while diving headlong toward the goal, shoots and scores. Someone asked a coach present, "Is he one of yours?" "Not yet," replied the coach (McPhee, 2009, p. 40).


1. Identify and explain which NCAA recruiting guidelines are affecting the actions of coaches at the Top 205 Camp.

2.Define the goal(s) of the decisions coaches must make at the Top 205 Camp.

3.Identify and explain the most relevant data and information coaches must gather at the camp.

4. Explainhowcoachesgeneratethebroadestpossiblerangeof alternatives in the recruiting process, and how the strengths and weaknesses of the alternatives are evaluated.

5.Are there any optimal alternatives in the recruiting process for coaches? Explain.

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