October 14, 2012

Recruiting advice from the front line

With three star sons and countless adopted “sons” he coached during more than a decade at Medfield (Mass.) High School, Bob Aronson has lived the recruiting wars.

So when Medfield chose not to renew his contract for 2012, despite having won two consecutive state titles and five crowns in 11 years, Aronson started his own private coaching business, AP Lacrosse.

On top of private instruction and skills camps, Aronson guides players and parents through the recruiting process, preaching “grades not goals” and offering guidance through the confusing landscape of club teams, recruiting camps and official visits.

“I’m working with rising juniors and rising sophomores that feel the pressure that if they don’t get on a certain club team — or if they don’t get in front of a certain coach during the summer between their sophomore and junior year — then they don’t have a chance,” Aronson said. “Some of that (sentiment) is true. That’s only getting worse, and the club teams are taking advantage of that.”

Aronson said club teams can take advantage of parents trying to get in front of high-level coaches; only so many players make a club’s top team, but everyone pays the same amount to be part of the club, even if they play B and C squads that will be scouted less, or by lower-profile coaches.

Players join a club without knowing if they will be part of the top team; they get no guarantees.

With college coaches scouting younger and younger — with top freshmen and sophomores now being pressured to commit — parents want their children to have the visibility so that they have a shot at the big-time.

“It’s tough,” Aronson said. “As much as the main culprits will say publicly that it’s got to stop, they’re the ones driving it. It’s (college) coaches. … (High school coaches) aren’t pushing eighth-graders to call coaches and start taking visits; I’m pushing them to do their homework.”

Life after lacrosse is an important consideration to any recruit, so the caliber of an institution’s academics should be a factor. It can be hard to match a player’s academics to a school when a high schooler has no idea what they want to do for a career.

Faster recruiting schedules also mean that many students are committing before they spend time on campus when the students are there. Summer tours and visits don’t show a campus as it is when the students are there.

Aronson suggests that high schoolers take their official recruiting visits while classes are in session, starting the 48-hour official visit on Saturday. While those visits these days are often considered a formality — top players typically are committed long before they can take an official visit — the player still wants to get an accurate picture of what they are headed for.

“What I made my kids do — and what I highly recommend to other kids and their parents when we sit down to talk about this — is to go on Saturday morning or afternoon,” Aronson said.

That way kids still get an idea of what weekend nightlife is like on Saturday, but can see on Sunday the serious side of their host’s schedule.

“Sunday is reality,” Aronson said. “On Sunday, (college students) haven’t done any homework yet. They’ve got to wake up, do homework and get to the library, and then Monday morning, they’ve got to get to class.”

This article originally appeared in the September-October 2012 issue of New England Lacrosse Journal.

Email: feedback@laxjournal.com