We were fortunate to catch up with Chris Meade, the Co-Director of the D3 Lacrosse Showcase and Co-Founder of LacrosseRecruits.com. The D3 Lacrosse Showcase will follow up its successful 2013 debut on January 20th, 2014 at the Indoor Sports Pavilion in Randolph, New Jersey.
The D3 Lacrosse Showcase is an event focused on giving athletes the ability to play in front of coaches representing highly competitive institutions that compete at the Division III level. Athletes will play in three 50-minute games and participate in a recruiting talk geared towards the Division III process.
Last January, over 160 athletes competed on two full-size indoor turf fields in front of some of the top DIII programs in the country, including Gettysburg, Connecticut College, Salisbury, Dickinson and Wesleyan. Participants were broken up into 10 teams and played in three games, each coached by a Division III head or assistant coach.
Check out the video below for highlights from 2013’s event, and read more for our Q & A with Chris, who discusses the Showcase, his experience playing Division III lacrosse and how the recruiting process has changed over the years.
On the genesis of the D3 Lacrosse Showcase:
We [Co-Director Matt Wheeler and I] came up with the idea for the D3 Lacrosse Showcase a few years back, realizing there was a void for players that were specifically targeting some of the top Division III schools. This event is geared toward that player who wants an opportunity to play in front of highly academic, selective Division III programs in an intimate setting.
Our LacrosseRecruits.com members kept asking where the best opportunities were to play for Division III programs during the Winter months. We found other options were cost prohibitive for many families, and required travel to other regions where you were not going to get in front of a majority of the top-tier DIII programs in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. After bouncing the idea off of a few friends who coach at DIII programs last year, they committed to our event. It is convenient for them to see a bunch of players who want to play DIII lacrosse in one location in a one-day format. We keep the numbers low so it is more manageable for the coaches.
Having competed at the Division III level ourselves [at Wesleyan], we are aware of the tremendous opportunities the Division III experience can provide, and are ecstatic to be able to facilitate an event focused on providing players an opportunity to be seen by Division III programs.
On the Recruiting Seminar that kicks off the Showcase:
One of the most important components of the lacrosse recruiting process is simply being informed. Along with Matt [Wheeler], we have gone through the recruiting process ourselves and been further involved since 2008 with LacrosseRecruits.com. So, we have plenty of experience dealing with the ins-and-outs of the process. To be able to share with players and parents our experiences and what we have learned in that time is great. We open it up for a Q&A portion as well, and it is always rewarding to clear up points of confusion for those going through what can be a complicated process.
I always tell parents that the more they prepare and educate themselves, the better off they will be as the family makes one of the biggest decisions of a child’s life. You want to be prepared so you are not panicking heading into senior year of high school.
The process for DIII schools is so different, with most players at the top DIII schools committing Early Decision I in July and August. It is more important now visit a campus during the Spring. The DIII Showcase is a great stepping-stone for players who want to have the opportunity to play in an intimate environment in front of coaches that are great fits.
On the importance of being educated about the different collegiate possibilities:
When I was going through the recruiting process in the early 2000’s, I was pretty unaware of the DIII opportunities that existed. Coming from Long Island, much of what I heard revolved around the Division I experience. It is very similar today, maybe even a bit worse given the acceleration of the recruiting timeline. With players committing to schools earlier and earlier, it is very easy to get swept up in the “DI or bust” mentality, especially when you are looking around and seeing friends commit to schools.
Once I discovered some of the opportunities that existed outside of that realm, though, I began to realize you could still play very competitive lacrosse at other levels. I became interested in NESCAC schools, and eventually chose Wesleyan, where I was fortunate to have an outstanding experience academically, socially and athletically. With this event, our hope is players interested in a similar experience can put their game in front of these types of programs exclusively.
On the location and timing of the Showcase:
The Indoor Sports Pavilion in Randolph, New Jersey is ideal because it serves as a central location for many of the best Division III programs in the country. It is a kind of mid-point for programs from New England, Upstate New York or in the Southern regions. The indoor facility features two full-field turf surfaces, which sit adjacent to each other, separated by an enclosed viewing area with both fields visible. This allows the event to occur on a mid-Winter date, which is great because it is free of competition from other events.
The timing is also great for Division III schools. By January, the top DIII schools are targeting players in their junior and sophomores seasons, so the D3 Lacrosse Showcase fits this niche perfectly by providing an intimate setting for players to display their talents in front of coaches.
On how the recruiting process has changed at the DIII level:
As the recruiting timeline continues to accelerate at the DI level, there is a domino effect at the DIII level. With Division I spots being filled earlier and earlier, the competition for Division III spots increases, and occurs at a much earlier point than it used to. What used to occur in a player’s late junior or early senior year for DIII programs is now happening earlier.
Following suit, the D3 Lacrosse Showcase helps players who are looking to be seen by these schools get exposure. We had over 160 players compete last year in front of some of the top DIII programs in the country, including Salisbury, Gettysburg, Connecticut College, and Wesleyan. With the positive feedback we received from coaches and players last January, 2014 promises to be another exciting event!
On the importance of his own DIII experience at Wesleyan:
The importance of playing at Wesleyan changes for me as I move further away from my glory days (2005 was so long ago!). I can’t say enough about playing for Coach Raba and being a part of the lacrosse program. We were the first team to make the NCAAs in program history, played in two NESCAC Championship Games and never lost a Little Three Championship. At 17, the opportunity to achieve all of those things was very important to me.
At that time, you do not give much thought to the fact that a bunch of the guys on the team are going to become your best friends or even future business partners (in my case). You do not think about a Wesleyan diploma helping you get your first job, or alumni connections helping you start your own business. However, looking back, those are things, at 30, that I think are the most important parts of my own DIII experience.
Playing college lacrosse and going to a school like Wesleyan (or Bowdoin, or Haverford, or Amherst) is an experience that really can transform you. I hope that we can help give any player who is interested in that route an opportunity to make a connection with a program where they are going to have a similar experience.
Thanks so much to Chris for his time! Be sure to click here to find out more about the D3 Lacrosse Showcase.