We caught up with Vassar College Men’s Lacrosse Coach Marc Graham for a discussion about the Vassar lacrosse program and what he looks for when recruiting student-athletes.
You can find our conversation below.
Vassar will be in attendance at the D3 Winter Lacrosse Showcase this January. Click Here To Learn More and Register to the D3 Winter Lacrosse Showcase.
What are you most excited about with regards to your program?
We are having the best season in program history. We have qualified for the Liberty League playoffs for the first time ever, and are currently ranked #8 in the NCAA North Regional poll. I am really excited for the growth that this program has shown over the past 5 seasons, and for getting the next group of talented young men here to help us continue that growth!
What jumps out at you when recruiting? What do you look for in a player?
While I am watching a player I look for tenacity and for great decision making. Trying to split the double, or force a 14 yard shot are not often the best lacrosse decision that can be made. I want unselfish players who make the right decisions for the team to be successful. If that is to dodge to the goal, then you GO! But if that is to draw the slide and move the ball, or to hustle back on defense after a teammate turns the ball over, then i want to see that too. Of course for me here at Vassar, none of that means anything without a strong academic profile. You efforts in the classroom can provide more options in your college selection process than your playing ability. But of course, we are looking for the best of both.
What are your “pet peeves” when recruiting?
“Here are my Top 5 pet peeves in recruiting:
1. “”template”” emails that are sent to all schools with only the coach and college changed (and worse if the coach and/or college are wrong!) Please make some effort to connect
2. having your voice mailbox be full when I am trying to get in contact and leave a message
3. not using bcc when sending mass email (so I can see I am one of 45 choices)
4. not knowing anything about the academic expectations that Vassar has for potential candidates
5. not having necessary information available: transcripts, test scores, film, and summer schedules”
What is the best way interested student-athletes should get in touch with you?
Direct emails are the best way to make an initial contact. When emailing me, please have as much pertinent information available: most recently updated transcript, test scores, link to highlight film, coach’s contact, and a few sentences about you as a player; height, weight, position, stats, strengths. That was I can at least make an initial evaluation to see if you will fit into the parameters of what we need academically and athletically. Attending our Summer Showcase is also the best way for us to get to evaluate you not only as a player, but as a young man.
How would you describe your coaching style?
My coaching style places an emphasis on attention to detail. Timeliness, effort, and energy are expected of all players and coaches as the minimum, ALL THE TIME. These, along with “coach-ability”, are some of our non-negotiables. Then we value good decision making and playing as a team at both ends of the field. When 7 can communicate, and play as 1 on the defensive end, it makes them pretty tough to beat. When our offense places as much value on an assist or a “hockey assist” as we do on scoring a goal, then we will score A LOT more goals.
Walk us through your timeline when recruiting a student-athlete?
We usually begin the recruiting process more seriously in the late summer/fall of the junior year. While we certainly begin to identify players earlier, we do not have too much active recruiting outside of campus visits and building a recruit profile before that point. As we close out our current recruiting class, often in the early decision period, we start to get more focussed on the junior class. At that point we make sure to collect as much information as possible about the recruits as students, players, and as young men. We use live recruiting along with conversations with high school and club coaches to aid our assessments. By the time the rising seniors start playing in the summer, we usually have a pretty good idea of the targeted group for our class, and we try to get as many of them on campus and playing in front of us as we can before mid-July. That being said, every year, and for a variety or reasons, we have added a very talented player to our program late into the first semester of their senior year.
What kind of players succeed at your program?
Players who have their priorities in order often do the best in our program. They strive to be as good in the classroom as they do on the field. As a Division III coach with less contact with my players, I place a high priority on being self motivation. I like to say that we develop young men who are committed to being successful to become compelled to succeed. Some guys will do everything that is asked of them. Some guys will do even more, outside of practice and in the off-season to be prepared. A few guys will do all of those things, and will inspire and encourage ALL of their teammates to do them as well. The more of those guys we recruit and develop, the stronger we become.
What’s your recruiting strategy going into an event? After an event?
I usually have a list of kids who have made me aware that they will be attending an event. I make it a point to see as many of those guys as possible, since I know they are interested in Vassar. As I travel around to see those guys play, I use my rosters and lists to take notes on any other guys that stand out to me. “Strong, overhand SOR”; “big, tough, aggressive”; “FAST, and can get to the goal and SCORE”; “good stick, and can push the ball upfield quickly to create transition”; “quick hands, can win the draw and control GB.” These are just a few of the notes I use to make me want to follow up with a potential recruit. After an event I try to make myself available to say hello and answer any question. And pretty much every guy will tell you that my first questions will be based on GPA and test scores.
Vassar will be in attendance at the D3 Winter Lacrosse Showcase on January 15th (MLK Day). Join Coach Graham and other college coaches at D3 Winter Showcase.
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