Dave Campbell recently finished his eighth season as head coach of the men’s lacrosse team at Middlebury. In those eight years, Coach Campbell guided his team to five NCAA Tournament appearances and advanced to the NCAA semifinals in 2009. A 2000 graduate of Middlebury College, Campbell enjoyed tremendous success with the Panther program as a player, and later as an assistant coach. His teams went 52-10 while Campbell was a player. The school won its first-ever NCAA championship during his senior season where he was a team captain. Campbell returned to Middlebury in 2001 as an assistant coach, helping guide the team to its second-consecutive NCAA crown. He spent coaching stints at Notre Dame and Connecticut College. Campbell also works as an assistant coach with the men’s soccer team in the fall.
Coach Campbell reminds young players to think “college search” more than “recruiting process”. Contact college coaches directly, learn where they will be, and get the most recruiting exposure. His message to kids entering their senior year without a college commitment; don’t worry there are still plenty of good college lacrosse programs out there recruiting.
What advice do you have for players interested in playing Division III lacrosse?
It’s a “college search” more so than a “recruiting process”. Lacrosse plays a factor in the college slection, but as college coaches we want recruits to do more research about the schools themselves.
A good way to learn about lacrosse programs is to go online and look at previous seasons. Look to see how competitive a school’s schedule is and how they performed over the last few years.
What type of player do you look for–raw athlete or refined lacrosse player?
We look for student-athletes. First, we need to know a player’s grades and test scores. Then we gauge the player’s interest in our school. It’s really important to understand how interested a player actually is in our program.
Athletically, it depends on the position. For instance, midfielders should be two-way players that can get up and down the field. The ability to play offense and defense is crucial.
How has the accelerated recruiting landscape affected your approach to recruiting?
We’re not trying to move fast with recruiting. In fact, we’ve slowed everything down. Our league has taken steps to ensure the timetable doesn’t continue to creep into sophomore or junior year. We all look at players during the summer going into their senior year and go from there. Lacrosse should be a factor later on in a prospective student-athlete’s “college search”.
What’s a question young players should ask you more during the recruiting process?
“Coach where are you going to be this summer?” Sometimes kids are blindly signing up for camps or tournaments. They might see our name, for instance, on the brochure or advertised online as a program that will be in attendance. The truth is, we might not even know about the event or we may have gone once in the past. Don’t be disappointed. Make direct contact with college coaches in order to properly plan your recruiting circuit.
What is special about being a student-athlete at a school like Middlebury?
I would like to speak more generally about the schools in our league. In the NESCAC, you find a really strong balance between academics and athletics. The NESCAC schools are some of the top ranked colleges in terms of academics.
In the NESCAC you’ll find Division I caliber athletes choosing to play at our Division III programs because they want to play two sports like hockey and lacrosse or football and lacrosse.
Some final thoughts from Coach Campbell:
It’s really beneficial for us as coaches to see guys play after their junior year regardless of the accelerated recruiting. We view the players as more polished products by this time as there is a great deal of growth and development that takes place during a prospect’s junior year. Their athleticism and stick skills are more developed and we can get a better assessment of their talent.
Even if you’re going into your senior year you young players should know that there are plenty of schools still interested in you.
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