by Greta Frontero
While many seniors made their final decisions on post-high school plans a few weeks ago, a number of WHS lacrosse players have known where they will attend college since the age of 15. Recent trends have shown WHS students are committing to college for lacrosse at a much younger age than any other sport, and this number is growing.
It is widely believed by members of the lacrosse community that athletes are making college commitment decisions too early, but oftentimes this is the only way to stay competitive in the recruiting process.
Junior Catherine Moriarty, who is verbally committed to the University of Florida, said, “The whole process is just so competitive, so you can’t commit too late if you really want to play in college, which is kind of what’s wrong with the system because we are all just so young.”
US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse, issued a statement on recruiting in which the organization addressed concerns for early commitments.
According to the 2014 statement, the current state of recruiting has encouraged student-athletes to “forego a well-rounded high school experience based on unrealistic expectations about playing college lacrosse.”
US Lacrosse will continue working “to provide the information, resources and leadership necessary to enable high school student-athletes and their parents to make the best decisions about their lacrosse experience.”
With a total of six Westfield seniors going on to play collegiate lacrosse next year, it is clear that lacrosse is far more commonly recruited at WHS than any other sport. WHS Supervisor of Athletics Ms. Sandra Mamary credits this trend to the concept of supply and demand.
Mamary said, “There is a large demand from colleges to commit lacrosse players, and WHS has such a high-quality program that it’s more common for students to commit for lacrosse than any other sport.”
Despite this, Mamary thinks WHS lacrosse players are making college commitment decisions far too early. “It’s important to remember that these students are still kids and not professional players, and the pressure for these teenagers to make such an emotional decision so early on is very concerning,” Mamary said.
“I blame the NCAA,” she added. “I don’t think the NCAA is doing their job as a regulatory organization to fix this problem.”
Recently, the NCAA has made changes in response to this issue. According to NCAA proposal 2017-1, announced on April 14, college lacrosse coaches will be prohibited from contacting prospective student-athletes until Sept. 1 of their junior year, effective immediately. This new legislation has created a buzz in the lacrosse community.
Junior girls lacrosse captain and Stanford University commit Natalie Bond approves of the new NCAA rule.
“I definitely think the rule is appropriate,” said Bond. “It’s kind of crazy that freshmen commit to college when they have barely played a full year of high school lacrosse.”
But freshman Colin Freer, who is verbally committed to Princeton University, said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Freer said, “I don’t think I committed too early because I feel that having the opportunity to attend one of the best schools academically is something that no one would pass up, and I think it’s the best fit for me and my family.”
Mr. Andrew Hubschmann is the director of boys recruiting at Building Blocks Lacrosse, a popular lacrosse club in the area, and he believes the recruiting process is warped.
He said, “On one hand, it’s a blessing for anyone to have the opportunity to commit to one of the top universities in the world, but when you are forced to do so at too early of an age, it’s a curse.”
The club’s director of girls recruiting, Ms. Sam Warner, shares these concerns, and said that she has seen many players choose to decommit because they realize their decision is not what they really want.
This was the case for WHS senior Parker Yarusi, who decommitted from the University of Denver.
When Yarusi committed as a sophomore she was very excited, and she said she felt like all of the work she put into lacrosse was finally paying off.
She later questioned her decision, and began asking herself if playing at Denver was really what she wanted to do, or if she was just pleasing those around her.
Once Yarusi decommitted, she never looked back. She is now looking forward to attending Indiana University in the fall, where she will not be playing lacrosse, and “meeting all types of people from all over the world who do many different things.
“People say college is the best four years of your life,” said Yarusi. “So you have to make sure you make the most of it and enjoy every second of it with no regrets, no matter what you choose to do.”