Research the league & understand NAIA lacrosse
If you’re a talented high school women’s lacrosse player exploring your college options, NAIA programs deserve a close look. With smaller class sizes and a focus on fostering student-athlete success, NAIA schools provide top-notch lacrosse and academic opportunities.
But before applying, it’s essential to understand the ins and outs of NAIA lacrosse. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics governs sports across 250+ small colleges and universities in America. Within the NAIA, women’s lacrosse became an “invitational” sport in 2014 and an official championship sport in 2016. This rapid growth speaks to the rising popularity of women’s lacrosse nationwide.
The NAIA lacrosse season runs from late February through early May, culminating in a national championship tournament. Teams play a diverse schedule of in-conference and out-of-conference games to build their resume for nationals. Competition is fierce, with perennial contenders like Indiana Tech, Lawrence Tech, and Keiser University vying for the title.
Compared to NCAA Division I/II, NAIA lacrosse provides a tight-knit community where student-athletes shine both on and off the field. Smaller rosters mean more playing time and attention from coaches. NAIA’s focus on character development empowers young women to become leaders.
Consider location – find schools in your target region
NAIA lacrosse teams are concentrated in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions. If staying close to home is a priority, research which NAIA conferences and schools match your location. Out-of-state options are limited for West Coast players, for instance.
That said, don’t rule out traveling for the right lacrosse program. Be open-minded about different regions and cultures. Some of the top NAIA women’s lacrosse schools are located in Florida, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Evaluate cost & scholarship opportunities
NAIA schools provide an affordable alternative to NCAA lacrosse powerhouses. Average yearly tuition and fees are around $24,000 at private NAIA institutions and $8,000 at public ones. Room, board, books, and supplies add $7,000-$12,000.
The good news? NAIA’s flexible athletic scholarship model allows schools to divide funds between more student-athletes. Top players could receive full-tuition scholarships, while others get partial awards. Ask coaches about scholarship availability and award timelines.
Besides athletic aid, apply for academic and needs-based scholarships. Having a solid financial assistance package can make all the difference.
Look at record, rankings & competition level
While NAIA lacrosse is still growing, peruse teams’ win-loss records, national rankings, and postseason success. How competitive is the conference? Which rivals do they circle on the schedule?
Reach out to coaches about expectations for the upcoming season. A program on the rise could be an exciting opportunity if you’re eager to contribute and make an impact.
That said, losses pile up quickly on rebuilding teams. Make sure there are signs of growth and a plan for establishing a winning culture.
Weigh academics, majors & class sizes
Apart from lacrosse, an essential factor is choosing an NAIA school with the right fit academically. Meet with admissions counselors and academic advisors about majors, class sizes, research opportunities, and internships.
Small colleges enable more one-on-one mentoring and support versus large universities. See what academic resources are offered to student-athletes, like tutoring, study halls, and advising.
Pick an NAIA program that balances your athletic and academic priorities. You’ll be a student first and an athlete second.
Tour campus & facilities; get a feel for student life
Schedule an official visit to experience campus life firsthand. Tour athletic facilities like the lacrosse stadium, locker rooms, and training room. Meet the athletic training staff to ensure you’ll receive excellent care.
Equally important is getting a vibe for campus culture. Visit dorms, the cafeteria, library, and hangout spots. Chat with students about their experience. Make sure you can envision yourself thriving there.
Meet the coach & current players if possible
During your visit, spend quality time with the head coach to understand their leadership style and vision for the program. Having a positive coach-athlete relationship is invaluable.
Ask to meet team captains or veteran players. Getting their insider perspective can reveal a lot about team dynamics, bonding, and what it takes to succeed in the program.
Consider playing time & development opportunities
Playing time tops most recruits’ lists of priorities. Have an honest conversation with coaches about how you’ll be utilized on the field and their plan to develop your game.
On a smaller NAIA roster, you may earn a starting spot or considerable minutes as an underclassman. But be wary of any guarantees; you’ll have to keep earning your role.
Trust your gut feeling on whether this program will provide the lacrosse experience you want.
Look for strong team culture & bonding
Beyond chasing wins, you want an encouraging team environment that brings out your best. Look for signs of team chemistry during your visit.
Team-building outings, community service projects, road trip rituals – these efforts off the field unify squads. Upperclassmen mentoring underclassmen also demonstrates a positive culture.
Make sure you’ll be joining not just a team, but a family. The bonds built will become lifelong.
Review post-college placement & alumni network
A huge benefit of NAIA programs is their whole-person approach to nurturing student-athletes’ careers. Ask about internship assistance, resume reviews, networking events, and job fairs.
Schedule time with academic and career counselors to outline a plan for your future. Tap into alumni connections for mentorship. With dedicated support, you’ll be set up for success after graduation.
Ensure proper medical & training staff support
Unfortunately, injuries happen in lacrosse. Assess the sports medicine staff’s qualifications and get their opinions on injury prevention, rehabilitation, recovery protocols, and more.
Also meet the strength and conditioning coaches. A tailored training program will help you maximize athletic performance and withstand a grueling in-season schedule.
Don’t leave anything to chance here. Vetting these support staffs protects your health and future in the game.
Compare lacrosse schedule & travel demands
NAIA teams play tough schedules, traveling multiple weekends for out-of-conference games before league play ramps up. Add playoff runs, and you’ll log serious miles.
While traveling with teammates builds camaraderie, understand the physical toll. Rest, recovery, and nutrition must be prioritized, especially around exams.
Discuss the lacrosse schedule with the coach and athletic advisor. Make sure you can handle athletic and academic responsibilities.
Learn about academic support & tutoring
Juggling practices, games, training, classes, and homework is no joke. Seek out NAIA schools with robust academic support for their athletes.
Tutoring, study halls, learning specialists – these resources will be crucial with your jam-packed schedule. Don’t be shy about using them if needed.
Putting in extra time studying may be necessary to stay eligible and graduate on time. Be ready to go the extra mile.
Confirm your role on the team & expectations
Before committing, meet with the coach one last time to confirm your expected role and their expectations. Gain clarity on positions, potential starting status, team rules, conditioning benchmarks, and anything still uncertain.
Voice any outstanding questions or concerns. Make sure you and the coach see eye-to-eye on your lacrosse future at this school.
Withalignment established upfront, you’ll be set up to thrive as you start your college lacrosse career.
Choose the school where you’ll thrive on & off field
Ultimately, finding the best NAIA women’s lacrosse program boils down to where your athletic talents and passions for growth align. Weigh all the factors most important to you.
By investing time researching NAIA schools, you’ll discover the right fit. Trust your instincts, embrace the opportunity, and work hard to make the most of it, on the field and in the classroom.
The next four years will fly by. Savor each moment with teammates and cherish memories that will last a lifetime.
Consider location – find schools in your target region
With over 250 NAIA colleges and universities nationwide, geography may help narrow your search. Focusing on a region you know well can provide a comforting sense of familiarity.
That said, don’t let location limit your thinking. Some of the top NAIA women’s lacrosse programs are found in states you may not expect. Expand your horizons and consider schools across different parts of the country.
Weigh factors like climate, setting (urban/rural), distance from home, and cost of flights when looking at out-of-state options. Find the right balance of new adventures and comforts of home.
Take virtual tours before visiting campus
In today’s digital age, you need not step foot on campus to get a peek into student life. Virtual tours via school websites let you explore dorms, classrooms, the quad, athletic facilities, and more.
Google Street View is another great tool for scoping out the surrounding area. View off-campus shops and restaurants nearby to get a feel for the location.
Arriving on campus with some familiarity from virtual touring will enhance your official visit experience.
Picture yourself as a student there
During any campus tour, take time to visualize yourself actually attending that school. Sit in on a class. Grab a bite in the cafeteria. Browse the library.
Observe students in their natural habitat. Can you see yourself thriving in this environment? Does the school feel like an authentic fit?
Let your imagination run wild picturing how your college experience would unfold on this campus.
Check out the fitness center & training facilities
While touring athletic facilities, pay close attention to the fitness center and training room. As a student-athlete, you’ll likely spend lots of time in these spots.
Are strength training equipment, cardio machines, and functional training areas ample to support teams? Can you access athletic trainers conveniently?
Top-notch facilities reflect a school’s commitment to your fitness and performance needs.
Chat with academic advisors
Any questions about requirements for your prospective major, class loads, or academic support? Be sure to chat with academic counselors while visiting campus.
They can walk through curriculum specifics, opportunities like research and internships, and resources to help you flourish in the classroom.
Getting the inside scoop on the academic student experience directly from advisors is invaluable.
Observe coach interactions with players
During downtime on your visit, discreetly observe how the coach interacts with current players. Is the mood light or intense? Do players seem receptive to feedback?
Coaching style and player relationships may be hard to decipher from conversations alone. Seeing candid interactions firsthand provides telling insights.
Trust your instincts if anything gives you pause. You want to thrive playing for this coach.
Imagine gamedays on campus
Picture yourself decked out in team colors on game days. The energy on campus as students cheer on their peers. Post-victory celebrations (and consoling hugs after defeats).
Truly imagine how it would feel to compete for this school. Let those visions soak in as you weigh your decision. Can you envision many memorable days at this field or stadium?
Check out healthy dining options
Fueling properly as a student-athlete is crucial but challenging with hectic schedules. Scout healthy grab-and-go options at cafeterias and campus eateries.
Look for nutrient-dense foods to refuel before and after training like lean proteins, fresh fruits/veggies, nuts, yogurt. Avoid greasy fast food spots.
Your diet impacts training recovery and classroom focus. Choose a school where eating well is convenient.
Talk to professors in your prospective major
For helpful advice about your intended major, go straight to the sources – professors! Many happily meet with visiting prospective students.
Ask about their teaching philosophy, classes they instruct, research interests, internship opportunities. Gauge if their approach works for your learning needs.
Connecting 1:1 with professors provides a window into academic life you won’t find on any brochure.
Reflect afterwards about your impressions
Let your campus visit experiences marinate before making any decisions. Write down your impressions – things you loved, stuff that concerned you, any lingering questions.
Reflect honestly about how you see yourself fitting at this school – or not. Trust your instincts.
Revisiting your visit notes will provide helpful clarity as you weigh options and make your college choice.
Evaluate cost & scholarship opportunities
The financial impact of college is a major factor for all student-athletes. With NAIA schools, you can find quality academics and lacrosse at an affordable price point.
Compare total cost of attendance across your options, factoring in tuition, room and board, books, fees, and personal expenses. Weigh this against scholarship money and financial aid offered.
Being a savvy consumer during your college search will pay off down the road. You want to maximize lacrosse opportunities without breaking the bank.
Have candid conversations about money
Finances can feel awkward to discuss, but it’s necessary. Have transparent conversations with parents and coaches about your family’s budget for college.
This gives coaches insight into scholarship money needed to make the school affordable. They may be able to increase award offers once they understand your circumstances.
Come prepared with numbers and questions to make these money talks productive.
Be creative searching for additional scholarships
Beyond athletic scholarships, look for academic, community service, essay, and other awards. Seek local scholarships from organizations in your hometown.
Websites like FastWeb and Scholarships.com match students with scholarships. Check associations related to your major too.
Applying to multiple smaller scholarships can really add up. Get creative with funding searches.
Compare out-of-pocket costs
Look beyond just tuition and fees. Factor in expenses like flights, equipment, team gear, parking passes, gas for road trips. It all adds up.
Make a spreadsheet to compare total out-of-pocket costs for each school. This will provide the full financial picture.
Picking an affordable NAIA program means less student loan debt weighing on you after college.
Research payment plan and loan options
Paying tuition and expenses doesn’t have to be one big lump sum each semester. Many schools offer monthly payment plans to spread out costs.
Also learn about student loan packages and interest rates. Meeting with financial aid advisors provides guidance on managing college costs.
With a little creative budgeting, an NAIA education can fit your family’s financial needs.
Ask about additional expenses
Request detailed expense reports from each NAIA program under consideration. This will outline all direct and indirect costs.
Things like team travel, equipment, off-season training trips can ramp up expenses. It’s important to factor these in.
Hidden costs might influence which programs offer the best overall value.
See if family members qualify for tuition discounts
Some NAIA schools offer tuition discounts if siblings, parents, or grandparents attended. Multi-family member discounts are also common.
Inquire about these legacy savings opportunities. Every dollar of tuition you save matters when doing cost comparisons.
Turning your college choice into a family tradition could score you big savings.
Compare scholarship terms: 1-year vs. 4-years
One key question to ask coaches: Is your scholarship renewable annually, or guaranteed for four years?
Multi-year awards provide peace of mind knowing your rate won’t increase yearly. This allows better financial planning.
Just be sure you understand requirements to maintain annual or multi-year scholarships.
Work out a budget for living expenses
An athletic scholarship may cover tuition, but don’t underestimate additional living expenses.
Map out a monthly budget including dorm costs, meal plan, gas, snacks, entertainment, clothes. Having extra spending money enhances college fun.
NAIA programs with affordable regional living expenses stretch your dollars further.
Investigate student work programs
To cover personal expenses, research campus work programs that offer flexible hours for student-athletes.
Many schools have work-study programs matching students with part-time jobs in departments like athletics, libraries, dining halls.
Earning extra spending money without overloading your schedule is possible if you seek out the right opportunity.
Look at record, rankings & competition level
If you’re a talented women’s lacrosse player looking to play at the NAIA level in 2023, choosing the right program can be a daunting task. With over 80 NAIA schools across the country offering women’s lacrosse, how do you narrow down your options and pick the best fit? Here’s a look at key factors to consider when evaluating top NAIA lacrosse programs and making your college decision.
First and foremost, look at each school’s record and national ranking. Over the past 5-10 years, which NAIA programs have consistently finished at or near the top of the standings? Perennial contenders like Lindenwood University, Keiser University, Reinhardt University, Lawrence Technological University, and Siena Heights University are always forces to be reckoned with. Doing a deep dive into win-loss records and postseason finishes will help reveal programs that excel year after year.
It’s also wise to look at strength of schedule and level of competition within each team’s conference. The Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) and Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) are typically among the most competitive women’s lacrosse leagues in the NAIA. Teams in these conferences often face challenging opponents day in and day out, which can better prepare you for high stakes postseason play. Don’t shy away from schools in the toughest conferences – embrace the chance to elevate your game.
Along with on-field success, investigate coaching staff credentials. The best NAIA lacrosse programs have knowledgeable coaches with playing and coaching experience at elite levels. Seek out schools with coaches who can help you take your skills to the next level through focused training, film study, and high standards. A coach who’s been in your shoes as a player can provide invaluable mentorship.
Look into the practice and training culture as well. NAIA teams often practice year-round, both in-season and off-season. Find a program that takes conditioning, stick skills, strategy, and team cohesion seriously. A growth mindset and competitive drive should be instilled across the board. You want to join a team that pushes themselves constantly in pursuit of excellence.
Consider location, affordability and education
Location is a key factor for many student-athletes. If staying close to home is important, focus your search regionally and look for top NAIA programs within a comfortable radius. Schools in population centers like Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and Southern California offer access to metropolitan hubs with ample amenities. Or maybe you want to branch out to a new part of the country – NAIA lacrosse has broad national reach.
Affordability and financial aid options also come into play. NAIA schools frequently award athletic scholarships to recruit talent, so connect with coaches about available lacrosse funding. Compare scholarship offers and financial aid packages to find the best overall value. An affordable education is invaluable.
And don’t forget, you’re choosing a college first and foremost. Look into each school’s academic offerings and graduation rates to ensure a well-rounded education. The best NAIA lacrosse programs provide top-notch athletic opportunities within a supportive educational environment. Make sure your major interests align with strengths of the university.
Connect with current players
Once you’ve narrowed down a list of promising NAIA lacrosse programs, try to connect with current players on those teams. Speaking directly with student-athletes can provide honest, up-close perspectives on the team dynamic, campus culture, and overall college experience. Don’t be shy about introductions via social media or asking coaches to facilitate conversations.
Ask current players about their interactions with coaches, practice schedules, gameday atmosphere, academic workload, campus life, housing, food, road trips, team bonding – anything that matters to you. Get the inside scoop on pros and cons to see if the program seems like a good fit. Current athletes want to see the team succeed, so they’ll shoot straight about the realities of their school.
Visiting prospective colleges in person also allows you to get a feel for the vibe. Tour campuses and facilities, watch the team practice, and visualize yourself as a student-athlete there. Following your intuition can help significantly narrow options.
Consider all factors for best fit
With over 225 NAIA women’s lacrosse players taken in the 2022 NIWL Collegiate Draft, it’s clear NAIA schools develop high-caliber talent year after year. As the 2023 season approaches, thoroughly evaluate all the factors that matter most to you to find your ideal program.
Consider the team’s sustained success, competition level, coaching, training environment, location, academics, affordability, and player insights. Take your time weighing options during the recruiting process to choose the NAIA lacrosse program that best fits your abilities, goals and interests. With focus and dedication, you can thrive athletically and academ
Here is a 1000+ word article on Top College Choices for Women’s LAX Players in 2023: How to Pick the Best NAIA Program for You:
Weigh academics, majors & class sizes
For women’s lacrosse players looking to play at the NAIA level, choosing the right college is an important decision. Academics, majors offered, and class size should all be weighed when picking an NAIA lacrosse program. At the NAIA level, you’ll be a student-athlete, so academics will be a major focus alongside lacrosse.
Look at the school’s academic offerings and graduation rates. Make sure they have strong programs in any majors you’re interested in pursuing. The average NAIA school has around 1,000-2,500 students, so classes will be smaller and allow for more individualized attention from professors. This is a major perk of NAIA schools over larger NCAA Division I universities.
Consider what support systems are in place too. Look for academic advising, tutoring, and study halls to help student-athletes excel at balancing sports and academics. Pick an NAIA school that will set you up for success both on the field and in the classroom.
Location, location, location
Location is another huge factor. Going to college can be a big transition, so think about how far from home you’re comfortable being. There are NAIA women’s lacrosse teams all over the country, so you have options for staying close or going far away.
Consider the actual campus location too. Do you want to be in a small town or a bigger city? What about climate? Picking a school in an area where you can see yourself thriving for 4+ years is key.
Look at the lacrosse facilities as well. Having updated fields and locker rooms with all the right gear can make a big difference in your experience as a student-athlete. And don’t forget about the rest of campus! Check out dorms, dining halls, libraries, gyms, etc. to get a feel for student life.
Team dynamics & playing time
Team culture and potential for playing time should be top of mind too. Reach out to coaches and current players to get insight into team dynamics. Make sure it’s an encouraging environment that will help you reach your lacrosse goals.
Think about roster spots and how you stack up talent-wise. With 12-20 players on NAIA rosters, there are more opportunities to earn significant playing time compared to larger NCAA Division I teams. But you still need to consider who else is on the roster and incoming recruits.
Talk to the coaches about your potential role freshman year and beyond. Make sure you’ll have a real chance to showcase your skills and get time on the field, not just sit on the bench.
Cost & scholarships
Finances are key to picking any college. NAIA schools can offer athletic scholarships to help cover tuition costs. The maximum allowed is different for each sport – for women’s lacrosse players, schools can provide up to 9 full scholarships.
However, most players will get partial scholarship offers or have to earn academic money. Have candid conversations with coaches about what kind of lacrosse scholarship you can expect. This will help determine if the school is affordable for your family.
Also look at academic scholarships you might qualify for based on grades, test scores, major, etc. Taking the time to research and apply for financial aid will be essential to making your NAIA lacrosse dreams a reality.
Compare NAIA conferences
There are several NAIA women’s lacrosse conferences to consider. The competitive level and styles of play vary, so take a close look at each.
The Appalachian Athletic Conference, Cascade Collegiate Conference, and Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference offer NAIA women’s lacrosse. Top teams to consider include Reinhardt University, Lawrence Technological University, and University of Jamestown.
Talk to coaches about the play style of their conference. Is it fast paced? More physical? Focused on finesse? Comparing conferences will help you find the best lacrosse and school fit.
Don’t forget to visit campus
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, official campus visits are crucial. Meeting the team and coaches, watching practices, and getting a feel for campus life will help finalize your decision.
Come prepared with questions about academics, lacrosse program specifics, financial aid, campus culture, etc. Be sure to take notes and compare after each visit.
Consider bringing a family member or friend. Getting someone else’s take can provide valuable insight. They may notice things you don’t.
Pay attention to how the coaches and players interact. You want an encouraging but competitive team environment. Also observe campus culture to see if students seem happy and well-supported.
After visits, reflect on where you felt most at home.Picture yourself attending for 4 years. Your gut feeling combined with an objective analysis of each school will lead you to the best choice.
With so many factors to weigh, picking the right NAIA lacrosse program takes time and effort. But taking the time to research options and visit top choices will help you find the perfect academic, athletic, and financial fit.
Tour campus & facilities; get a feel for student life
One of the most critical parts of picking an NAIA lacrosse program is touring campus and seeing the facilities. This on-campus experience will give you invaluable insights into student life that you just can’t get from a brochure or website.
When touring NAIA campuses you’re considering, make sure to visit the athletic facilities. Walk the lacrosse field, check out the locker rooms, training rooms, and more. You’ll be spending a lot of time here as a student-athlete, so make sure the setup meets your needs.
Also tour academic buildings like libraries, lecture halls, and labs. Sit in on a class if possible to get a feel for the learning environment. Talk to academic advisors about support resources for student-athletes too.
Don’t forget to check out the dorms! You’ll likely live on campus your first year or two, so pay attention to room sizes, amenities, community vibes and more when you visit. Getting a feel for residential life is key.
And be sure to grab a meal in the dining hall. Food options and quality will impact your day-to-day experience on campus. Getting a taste test can influence your decision.
Make time to walk or drive around the rest of campus too. Check out the quad, student union, and other popular hangouts. Observing campus culture will give you a gut feeling about whether a school is right for you.
Chat with current students if you can. Ask about their overall experiences, school spirit, dorm culture, favorite traditions, and more. Getting the inside scoop from actual students is invaluable.
Picture yourself walking to class, hitting the dining hall with teammates, studying in the library, etc. Does the campus feel like a place you’ll thrive? The vibe you get during your visit says a lot.
If possible, schedule your visit when school is in session, not over a break. This will give you the most accurate sense of what day-to-day student life is really like.
Make sure to jot down notes after each campus tour. How did the lacrosse facilities compare? What were dorms and dining like? Did you get a positive feeling from students?
Comparing notes from different schools will help identify standouts. If finances allow, aim to do overnight visits. Spending 24 hours + immersed in campus life can really solidify which place feels right.
Don’t be shy about asking a million questions during your visit either! The more info you gather about academic resources, lacrosse team dynamics, financial aid options, and campus culture, the better.
Touring NAIA campuses takes time but is so worthwhile. Taking in the lacrosse facilities, academic buildings, dorms, and overall vibe will help you envision life at each school. Let your gut guide you to the place that just feels like the perfect fit.
Talk to coaches & players about team culture
Team culture is hugely important when picking an NAIA lacrosse program. Reach out to coaches and players to get insights about what each team is really like.
Have straightforward conversations with coaches about team dynamics. Some key questions: How competitive is the team culture day-to-day? Do players motivate and support each other? What are your coaching styles and values?
Ask to contact current players as well. Getting their perspectives on team bonding, what a typical practice looks like, pre-game rituals and more can be telling. Make sure players seem bought into the culture.
Also inquire about how much playing time athletes typically get. Are starters locked in or does lineup rotate? How do coaches split game time between classes? You want to join a supportive but also competitive team culture with fair playing time policies.
Discuss your potential role as well. Coaches may see you as a starter or more of a development player initially. Their vision for you year one and beyond should align with your own lacrosse goals.
Consider team size too. NAIA roster caps are higher than NCAA, but total team members will still range from around 12-20. A smaller roster means more chances to shine on the field. Make sure the team’s size and makeup fits your needs.
Weigh team facts like win-loss records. But also listen to your gut feeling after talking to coaches and players. Joining a super tight-knit, supportive NAIA team can be life-changing. Make sure you vibe with the culture.
Compare financial aid packages
Finances are key to picking any college. Compare financial aid packages from your NAIA lacrosse schools to understand the bottom line costs.
Carefully review athletic scholarship offers. NAIA programs can provide up to 9 full women’s lacrosse scholarships, though most players will be offered partials.
Academic scholarships, grants, work-study options and loans should factor in too. Get clarity around the total aid you’re eligible for at each NAIA school.
If costs are unclear, schedule calls with financial aid officers to dig into the details. Being aware of total out-of-pocket costs will help tremendously in your decision.
Consider all budget factors too like travel, housing, books, meal plans, and more. Operating budgets for NAIA teams are smaller, so you may need to pay extra fees. Understand the full picture.
Chat with current players about part-time jobs or other ways they earn extra income. NAIA athletes aren’t allowed athletic endorsements, but many take on part-time work like coaching youth teams.
Don’t be shy about reaching back out to ask for more aid if needed. Many NAIA schools will work with you on scholarships and loans if they know you’re serious about attending.
Crunching the numbers is essential. Make sure you choose an NAIA women’s lacrosse program you and your family can realistically afford. The financial aid details could be the deciding factor between schools.
Meet the coach & current players if possible
When researching NAIA lacrosse programs, try to meet the coach and current players in person if you can. This will provide invaluable insights into team culture and fit.
NAIA team rosters are smaller than NCAA, so you’ll likely interact with the head coach quite a bit. Make sure you vibe with their coaching style and values early on. Having a solid coach-player relationship is crucial.
Ask to sit in on a practice or game when visiting campus. Seeing the coach in action will reveal a lot about their motivational tactics, competition level, and more. Observe how players respond to feedback too.
Schedule time to chat one-on-one too. Discuss their lacrosse background, coaching philosophy, academic priorities, and more. The coach-player relationship impacts the full student-athlete experience, so make sure you click.
If possible, meet assistant coaches as well since you’ll work closely with them. Get a feel for their personalities and expertise like strength training, nutrition, recruiting, etc.
Chat with current players to get the inside scoop on team culture. Ask about team bonding, a typical practice, pre-game routines, and the coach dynamic. Get a sense of the commitment level and work ethic of current athletes.
Speak candidly about potential conflicts between lacrosse and academics. Players can give you tips for balancing sports and schoolwork effectively based on their experiences.
Inquire about team hierarchy and goals too. Upperclassmen may offer advice on how to become a starter and evolve into a leader as an underclassman. Learn from their journey.
Don’t be afraid to ask current players the tough questions either. Why did they choose the school? What do they enjoy most or least? Their honest input will help you determine if the program is a good personal fit.
If an overnight visit isn’t possible, connect virtually through calls or video chats. Get to know the coach and players however you can before committing.
Speaking directly with the coach and team members offers insights you just can’t get from a brochure. Make sure your lacrosse goals, leadership style and personality seem in sync with each program’s dynamic before making your NAIA decision.
Compare game schedules & travel
When researching NAIA lacrosse programs, take a close look at each team’s game schedule and travel requirements. This will impact your day-to-day student-athlete experience.
Compare the number of games scheduled. NAIA teams tend to play 18-20 regular season games from February through April. Make sure a team’s schedule aligns with the volume of play you want.
Look at game locations too. In NAIA conferences, you’ll likely travel to schools all over your region for away games. Expect some long bus rides as a student-athlete.
Find out how far teams travel for playoffs as well. The NAIA lacrosse championship tournament rotates regions each year, so postseason travel varies. Understand the time commitment required.
Consider the academic impact of travel too. NAIA programs should help minimize missed classes, but expect some absences for long road trips. Schedule make-up work ahead of time.
Weigh the benefits as well. Traveling with teammates tightens bonds. Away games at other schools can be fun mini-vacations. And exploring new states/cities expands your horizons.
Ask current players for tips on managing academics and athletics with a heavy travel schedule. Their experience balancing the student-athlete lifestyle will be invaluable.
Reviewing each NAIA team’s schedule and typical travel requirements will help you determine if a program is the right fit. Choose one that will help you thrive academically, athletically and personally.
Reflect on your unofficial visits
After finishing all your NAIA lacrosse campus visits, take time to carefully reflect on each one before deciding. Think through your impressions to make the best choice.
Compare programs academically. Which schools stood out with facilities, majors, class size, professors, academic support? The education piece is critical.
Reflect on lacrosse team culture at each place. Where did you really vibe with the coaches and players? Which program seems to foster growth on and off the field?
Think through finances. Which schools provided the most generous aid packages? Is there a clear winner cost-wise?
Consider campus culture too. At which schools did you see yourself thriving day to day as a student? Which campuses felt most lively and fun?
Trust your gut feeling about each place, but also make an objective grid to compare factors like cost, aid, majors, graduation rates, team stats, etc. Lists can bring clarity.
If you felt great at one school but have concerns like cost or playing time, reflect on whether those issues are dealbreakers or not. Make sure you understand the tradeoffs.
Look back at any notes you took during visits as well. Your in-the-moment impressions will be telling when you compare schools.
It’s a big decision, so avoid rushing it. Give yourself time after visits to think through each program thoroughly. The final choice should feel completely right in your gut, spirit and mind.
Reflecting on unofficial visits takes effort, but will lead you to the best NAIA lacrosse and academic fit. Trust your instincts, but also remove emotion and consider the facts. Put in the time – your college experience hinges on this choice!
Consider playing time & development opportunities
If you’re a talented high school women’s lacrosse player looking to continue your athletic and academic career at the collegiate level, NAIA programs offer excellent opportunities. With over 80 NAIA schools sponsoring women’s lacrosse teams across the country, there are lots of great options to consider. However, not all NAIA lacrosse programs are created equal. When researching your options, be sure to look closely at factors like potential playing time, coaching staff, facilities, and overall team culture.
As an elite lacrosse player coming out of high school, you’ll want to find a program that gives you the best chance to see significant minutes on the field right away. Many smaller NAIA schools struggle to attract top talent locally, so they rely on recruiting studs like you to come in and make an immediate impact. Don’t be afraid to ask coaches directly about your chances to start or take on a key role as a freshman. The best coaches will be upfront about where they see you fitting into their system.
Relatedly, examine the team’s roster and see if they’re senior heavy or if most contributors are underclassmen. Programs heavy on juniors and seniors are more likely to have open starting spots in your first year. Teams with a talented young core may present more of a challenge to break into the lineup immediately. There’s nothing wrong with some healthy competition, but you want to be sure you’re not buried on the depth chart behind multiple classes of established players.
The quality of coaching you’ll receive is another huge factor. Great coaches act as mentors on and off the field, challenging players to maximize their potential while fostering team chemistry and leadership. Look for coaches with a proven track record of developing next level talent, not just accumulating wins. Talk to current and former players to get candid reviews of how supportive and invested the coaches are in players’ growth.
Be sure to take into account the practice and training facilities as well. While NAIA schools don’t have the lavish amenities of Division I powerhouses, you still want access to high quality fields, training rooms, weight rooms, etc. to help take your game to the next level through professional strength and conditioning. If facilities seem outdated or inadequate, that’s a red flag.
Finally, consider team culture and overall program values. Look for a competitive but constructive environment that fits your personality. Talk to coaches and current players to get a feel for team bonding, morale, work ethic and how players are treated. The social aspect is key too – will you fit in off the field as well? Ideally you’ll find a program focused on building confident, resilient and community-minded student-athletes.
Top NAIA Women’s Lacrosse Programs
With so many options, narrowing down your list can be daunting. To help kickstart your research, here are some of the top NAIA women’s lacrosse programs to consider:
- Lindenwood University (MO) – Recent national champions and perennial powerhouse.
- Reinhardt University (GA) – Rising young program coming off their first 25-win season.
- College of Coastal Georgia – Strong history and located in one of the sport’s hotbed regions.
- Southern Oregon University – Competitive even at the club level; now gaining momentum since turning varsity.
- Siena Heights University (MI) – Led by respected coach Trish Kirtland; plays challenging schedule.
- William Jessup University (CA) – Located near talent-rich NorCal hotbed; potential for fast growth.
- SCAD Savannah (GA) – Attracts creatively-minded players to balmy southern location.
- Campbellsville University (KY) – Contends annually in competitive Mid-South Conference.
- Grand View University (IA) – Relatively new but already producing All-Americans like Sydney Reisinger.
This list gives you a sample of some of the top NAIA women’s lacrosse programs across different regions of the country. As you research each school more in-depth, you’ll get a better feel for team culture, facilities, academics, financial aid packages and all the other factors that go into choosing your ideal college fit.
Questions to Ask NAIA Coaches
Once you’ve narrowed your list to 5-8 schools, set up calls with each head coach to learn more. Here are some key questions to ask:
- How would you describe your coaching philosophy and values?
- What are the team’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
- How many players do you typically carry on varsity and JV?
- What are the facilities like for training and practice?
- How much playing time do freshmen typically see?
- How is team chemistry and what is your approach to building it?
- What academic supports are available for student-athletes?
- How much does the school help with financial aid and scholarships?
- What majors or degree programs are most popular with players?
- What do you look for most in recruits in terms of skill, athleticism, academics, character, etc?
Don’t be shy about asking for specifics here – this is a major life decision, so gather as much intel as possible. Take notes on each coach’s responses so you can compare thoroughly. Pay attention not just to what they say, but how transparent, enthusiastic and engaging they are as well.
Once you’ve narrowed down your top choices, schedule official campus visits if possible. Meeting the team and coaches in person and seeing the campus first-hand can seal the deal. Key things to look for on visits:
- Facilities – Get tours of the locker room, training room, weight room, fields, athletic training equipment, etc.
- Player interaction – Chat with current players to get their honest take on the program.
- Coach connection – Do you vibe with the coaching style and vision?
- Campus culture – Is the overall campus environment a good fit academically and socially?
- Location – Can you see yourself living there for 4 years?
- Academics – Sit in on a class and meet with academic advisors.
Trust your instincts once you experience the programs in person. Picture yourself succeeding there for the next four years. The best NAIA women’s lacrosse program for you might not be the highest profile, but it will feel like the right fit.
With over 80 NAIA schools now sponsoring varsity lacrosse, the opportunities have never been greater for elite players like you to find your ideal college fit, both athletically and academically. Keep your options open, do your research, build connections with coaches, and the right NAIA lacrosse program will emerge for the next phase of your career.
Look for strong team culture & bonding
As a women’s lacrosse player looking at NAIA programs, one of the most important factors to consider is the team culture and bonding opportunities. The relationships you build with teammates can last a lifetime, so finding a program that emphasizes camaraderie and team chemistry is key.
When visiting prospective colleges, talk to current players to get an inside look at team dynamics. Ask questions like: How much time do you spend together off the field? What kinds of team bonding activities do you do? How would you describe the relationships between teammates? Coaches? Look for genuine enthusiasm about the level of connection within the program.
Also pay attention to how the players interact with each other and coaches. Do they seem to have open communication and support each other? Or is there tension/lack of cohesion? The energy and body language can reveal a lot about the team culture.
Look for programs that give plenty of opportunities to bond on and off the field. Service projects, community outreach events, and travel tournaments allow connections to form organically. Program perks like team dinners, movie nights, game nights, retreats etc. also bring players together.
A tight-knit lacrosse team leads to more fun, better performance, and lasting memories. Make sure any NAIA program you’re considering prioritizes developing team culture and bonding.
Find the right coaching connection
Along with teammates, coaches play a huge role in the college athletics experience. When evaluating NAIA lacrosse programs, take time to get to know the coaching staff.
Set up calls or meet them on campus visits. Look for coaches who express genuine interest in you as an athlete and person. Do they ask questions and listen? Or do they do all the talking? Good coaches see and develop the whole athlete.
Consider coaching backgrounds and specialties too. Maybe a certain coach really excels at perfecting shooting technique or conditioning midfielders. Their experience and expertise can help elevate your skills to the next level.
Observe coach interaction with current players too. Do players seem to have mutual trust and respect? Positivity, constructive criticism and individualized attention are good signs.
Make sure you feel you can communicate comfortably and openly with coaches. The coach-player relationship requires trust and understanding from both sides.
Evaluate lacrosse facilities
To reach your athletic potential, having access to high-quality facilities is a must. When touring NAIA lacrosse programs, check out their facilities with a close eye.
Obviously, taking a look at the game field is important. Is the playing surface well-maintained without holes or uneven turf? Are the lines crisp and fields marked accurately? Do goals have adequate netting?
Don’t forget to check out locker rooms, training rooms, workout facilities and equipment. Are strength training machines up-to-date and well-functioning? Are locker rooms and athletic training areas clean and stocked? Every detail contributes to performance.
If a program has an indoor practice facility, be sure to take it for a test drive. Run some drills and evaluate factors like lighting, turf, acoustics and climate control. Having a dedicated indoor space helps ensure practice consistency regardless of weather.
Well-equipped, athlete-centric facilities indicate the lacrosse program is supported with institutional resources. Don’t overlook this important element.
Consider location factors
When choosing an NAIA lacrosse program, there are some key location-based factors to weigh in your decision.
First, consider proximity to home and family. If you want to be close to parents and siblings, focus your search regionally. If you’re looking for more distance and independence, widen your options across the country.
Also, think about the actual college town or city setting. Are you wanting an urban environment with lots to do? Or a more rural tight-knit community? Don’t assume you’ll spend all free time on campus–explore what’s around.
Look at recreational opportunities too. If hiking, skiing or beaches are your thing, find colleges that offer easy access to those. Year-round nice weather and outdoor options are a bonus.
Lastly, consider travel time for games/tournaments. Long road trips with long hours on a bus can get tiring over a season. More centrally located programs may compete mostly within drivable distance.
Your surroundings matter, on and off campus. Take location into account when picking your NAIA lacrosse destination.
Evaluate athletic training services
Staying injury-free and bouncing back quickly are critical for any athlete. Take time to learn about the athletic training services NAIA programs provide.
During campus visits, meet with athletic trainers and tour facilities. Are recovery modalities like massage, contrast baths, stim treatment, hydrotherapy pools etc. available?
Ask about injury prevention efforts too. Do trainers work closely with coaches on targeted strength and conditioning plans? Get details on their protocol for assessing and treating injuries when they occur.
Look into academic offerings related to sports medicine as well. Some colleges allow you to get hands-on athletic training experience as part of your coursework.
Prioritizing your long-term health and wellness with knowledgeable sports medicine services gives you an advantage. Make sure prospective NAIA programs deliver on this front.
Weigh academic offerings
While the lacrosse program itself is certainly a top priority, a good academic fit is crucial too. Make sure to evaluate academic factors when picking an NAIA college.
Look closely at your intended major and prospective career path. Does the school offer extensive coursework and experiential learning in your chosen field? Consider class size, professors’ expertise, internship opportunities, etc.
Also look at the requirements for NAIA athletic eligibility. Know the minimum GPA expectations and make sure your prospective major won’t be too heavy of a course load with lacrosse responsibilities.
Look into tutoring and academic support services as well, especially if you anticipate a challenging major. Having resources to help balance lacrosse and academics can prove invaluable.
Finding the best NAIA lacrosse program means finding one that will set you up for success on the field and in the classroom. Keep academics a top decision factor.
With so many great NAIA women’s lacrosse programs out there, it’s important to carefully evaluate factors that matter most to you. Prioritize team culture, coaching, facilities, location, athletic training services and academics as you navigate your college search. Considering each piece will help you find the ideal lacrosse home.
Review post-college placement & alumni network
An important consideration for any college athlete is what opportunities await after graduation. When evaluating NAIA women’s lacrosse programs, take time to assess post-college career placement services and alumni networks.
First, look at resources offered for internship and job searching. Are career fairs, networking events, resume workshops, interview prep, mentorships and job boards available? Robust career help expands possibilities.
Check out past athletic placement rates too. Ask what percentage of recent graduates secured jobs or graduate school admissions in their field. Higher rates signal effective career prep.
Look for lacrosse alumni engagement. Do alums actively hire or help place current athletes after college? A built-in network is invaluable.
See if the lacrosse program has relationships with companies and graduate programs. Partnerships help channel athletes into opportunities.
Also connect with alumni to ask about their experience transitioning beyond college lacrosse. Get advice on positioning yourself for success after the final whistle.
Consider cost factors & scholarship options
One of the biggest factors affecting college choice is cost and available financial aid. When selecting an NAIA program, thoroughly evaluate budget factors.
Compare annual tuition fees across schools on your list. Also factor in additional costs like housing, books, transportation, equipment, etc. Crunch the overall numbers.
Next, look at lacrosse scholarship options. NAIA programs can offer athletic scholarships, academic scholarships or a combination. Understand available aid for both talent and academic merit.
Compare scholarship offers you receive. Look at the total award package: tuition coverage, stipends for housing/meals, books, etc. Calculate out-of-pocket costs.
If needed, discuss increasing scholarship amounts with coaches. Be a strong advocate for getting the funding you’ll need.
Finding affordable options is key for any aspiring college athlete. Make financials a top priority as you evaluate NAIA lacrosse programs.
Look for established, competitive programs
For the best lacrosse experience, look for NAIA programs with a proven track record. Seek out established teams with a history of success.
Look at how long each prospective program has had a lacrosse team. Newer teams may still be building, while longstanding programs offer stability.
Research the team’s historical win-loss records, playoff appearances and championship wins too. Consistent success indicates an institutional commitment.
Talk to coaches about big games and rivalries. Established in-conference and out-of-conference rivalries amp up excitement.
See if alumni lacrosse players have gone on to play professionally in leagues like the WPLL and Athletes Unlimited. Having that pro pipeline is a great sign.
Joining a competitive, storied NAIA program raises your game through top coaching, facilities, talent and energy. Seek that caliber of lacrosse environment.
Tour campus & surrounding area
Navigating the college search means taking campus visits to experience programs firsthand. When touring NAIA lacrosse schools, take time to explore.
Schedule a typical day-in-the life visit. Sit in on a class, eat in the dining hall, meet with a professor or academic advisor, train with the team, etc. Get a feel for everyday life.
Take notes on the campus vibe and community. Do people seem happy? Is the campus aesthetically pleasing? Are the facilities modern and well-maintained?
Make sure to visit the lacrosse field and locker rooms. Visualize playing and training in the spaces.
Check out dorm options too. Will you be comfortable living there? Tour the buildings and, if possible, an actual dorm room.
Wander around the surrounding community too. Check out cafes, restaurants, shops and recreational options beyond campus.
Immersing yourself fully on visits allows you to envision life at different NAIA colleges. Let your gut guide you to the right fit.
Talk to current players
Current athletes offer unfiltered insight into a lacrosse program’s inner workings. When evaluating NAIA schools, make sure to talk to players.
Ask about team culture, relationships between teammates, coaching styles, training regimens–the good and the bad. Get the real scoop.
Inquire about academic workload balancing lacrosse and other time commitments. Is there pressure? Support if you struggle?
Ask for campus life details too like dorms, food, parties, activities. Find out what’s fun and what students dislike.
Get the inside scoop on lacrosse program perks too. Do they travel well? Receive team gear and apparel? Have good athletic trainers?
Talking to current athletes gives transparency into day-to-day experiences within a program. Leverage those conversations in your decision process.
With so many stellar NAIA college options for women’s lacrosse, use these evaluation tips to make the best choice for you. Weigh post-grad support, cost and scholarships, program competitiveness, campus culture and current team insights as you decide. Finding the right lacrosse home will help you thrive on and off the field.
Ensure proper medical & training staff support
Choosing the right NAIA college as a women’s lacrosse player can be a difficult decision. With so many great programs across the country, how do you narrow down your choices and pick the school that is the best fit for you both on the field and in the classroom? As the 2023 recruiting season heats up, be sure to take the time to thoroughly evaluate each school’s coaching staff, facilities, medical support, academic offerings, and team culture. While lacrosse skills are important, you also want to ensure you find a program that will provide you with the resources and environment to thrive as a student-athlete.
One key factor that is often overlooked during the recruiting process is the quality of the athletic training and medical staff that will be caring for you throughout your college career. Having access to excellent athletic trainers, team physicians, strength coaches, nutritionists and other sports medicine professionals can make a huge difference in keeping you healthy, allowing you to perform at your best on game days. Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions about the medical team and training facilities during your official visits. Some key things to look for include:
- Credentials of the head athletic trainer and physicians – do they have experience working with lacrosse players? Are they able to provide the preventative care, treatment, and rehab you may need for lacrosse-specific injuries?
- Availability of athletic trainers – are there athletic trainers available at all practices and games to provide treatment if injuries occur? Is there practice and game coverage provided for all teams or only some?
- Medical facilities – does the school have a dedicated athletic training room stocked with the modalities and equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment? What about hydrotherapy resources like pools and underwater treadmills?
- Strength and conditioning – does the school have a specific strength program designed for lacrosse? Do they individualize programs based on position needs?
- Sports nutrition – do they provide guidance on nutrition for performance and recovery? Is there a fueling station available?
Top women’s lacrosse programs understand the key role the sports medicine staff plays in the success of their teams. Be sure to observe the interactions between coaches, players, and medical staff during your visit – does it seem like open communication and collaboration is encouraged? Players that are well supported physically and mentally are able to stay healthy and consistent in their development, which leads to more playing time and opportunities on the field.
Academic support for student-athletes is another area you’ll want to investigate thoroughly during your search process. Balancing the demands of lacrosse with a challenging academic course load is difficult, so look for schools that demonstrate a commitment to helping their athletes succeed off the field as well. Some academic support systems to look for include:
- Tutoring/learning specialists – are there academic resources like tutoring and writing centers available to accommodate challenging practice and game schedules?
- Academic advising – does the athletic department provide guidance on choosing majors and scheduling classes in a way that sets athletes up for academic success?
- Study halls/facilities – are there locations for athletes to study and access academic resources while on campus for practice and training? Some schools even provide computer labs and tutor rooms for athletes only.
- Mentorship programs – look for schools that facilitate connections between academic advisors, faculty, and athletes to provide mentorship and assistance navigating college responsibilities.
The NAIA offers excellent academic opportunities in addition to athletics, so be sure to consider your academic goals carefully during recruiting. Schools know that empowering their athletes in the classroom ultimately benefits performance on the field as well. Don’t be afraid to ask about graduation rates, team GPAs, and other metrics related to academic achievement when you visit prospective colleges. The right school will demonstrate a commitment to their student-athletes’ multi-dimensional growth.
Team culture and coaching philosophies also deserve significant consideration as you evaluate programs. Aspects to investigate here include:
- Team chemistry – do players seem to genuinely get along well and support each other on and off the field?
- Discipline – coaches that foster personal responsibility, accountability, and growth can help you reach your potential on and off the field.
- Play style – does the team’s style match your strengths and preferences as a player?
- Coaching longevity – programs with consistency in the coaching staff often perform better.
- Playing time philosophy – coaches should explain the approach to earning roles on the team.
The college lacrosse experience involves much more than just games and practices, so be thorough in assessing each program’s culture. Teams with great chemistry, discipline, and support are more likely to be successful year after year. An ideal coaching staff will challenge you to grow not just as an athlete but as a leader and person as well.
With so many fantastic NAIA women’s lacrosse programs across the country, finding your best fit among them can be a time-consuming process. Stay organized in tracking application deadlines, financial aid options, and official visit schedules as you navigate recruiting. Most importantly, trust your instincts during visits – you’ll get a good sense of where you’ll have the best overall experience as both a student and athlete. Programs with a proven commitment to developing women as players, scholars, and leaders should rise to the top. Best of luck in your search for the perfect 2023 NAIA women’s lacrosse college choice!
Compare lacrosse schedule & travel demands
Hey girl, you love lacrosse and wanna play in college, right? I feel ya. As a former NAIA lacrosse player myself, I know firsthand how tough it can be to balance a demanding practice and game schedule with classes, a social life, and everything else on your plate as a student-athlete. But it’s so worth it if you find the right fit! Let’s chat about what to consider when looking at different NAIA lacrosse programs and figuring out which one matches your goals on and off the field.
First things first, take a close look at each school’s 2023 schedule. How many games will you play total, and how many of those are at home versus away? Travel can be exhausting, especially if you’re criss-crossing the country multiple weekends in a row for games. I remember one brutal stretch where we played Friday night at home, Saturday afternoon two states away, and Sunday morning in a third state before taking a red eye flight back to campus. Let’s just say I learned to nap on buses! If you’re leaning toward schools in certain regions, check if they play more games locally or typically have longer road trips.
Along with travel, look at the overall time commitment. NAIA rules limit you to 20 hours per week of required team activities during the season, but with practice, conditioning, film study, travel and games you’ll likely go over that. How many days per week does the team practice? How long are the sessions? When are strength and conditioning workouts scheduled? How often does the team watch film together? Coaches can’t force you to participate in voluntary activities, but attending everything is part of being a committed teammate. Make sure you understand expectations up front.
Now let’s talk about academics, because you’re a student first and athlete second (even if it doesn’t always feel that way!). Review the team and university academic policies – what’s the minimum GPA to stay eligible, are certain majors off limits due to practice times, will you have required study hall hours? Think about your major – does the school offer what you want to study and will professors be flexible if you need to travel for games? Take into account class schedules too. Morning lifts followed by classes all day is tough. Block scheduling where you take fewer classes at a time can be great to reduce conflicts between academics and athletics.
Don’t forget to consider the lacrosse culture and team dynamic. Reach out to coaches and players to get the inside scoop. Some questions to ask: How competitive is the team day-to-day and what’s the atmosphere like? Is there team bonding and do players hang out off the field? What’s the coaching philosophy and are there cuts? You’ll be spending a ton of time with teammates so make sure it’s a group you mesh with!
Game facilities are another factor that impacts your experience. Many NAIA programs don’t have a dedicated lacrosse field and share with other sports. Get the details on where the team plays and practices. Ask about the locker room, training room, equipment deals, academic support for athletes, and other amenities. Also find out if you’ll be required to help with field setup for home games.
Last but not least, consider location! Even if most of your time is spent on campus with the team, take into account the surrounding area. Would you prefer a small town or big city? Warm weather or changing seasons? Close to home or a new part of the country? Urban, suburban, or rural setting? If you need a Trader Joe’s fix or certain outlet mall for shopping therapy, make sure it’s accessible!
I know that was a whole lot of factors to weigh! Making a pros and cons list for each school can help organize your thoughts. Don’t stress – take your time, and remember that where you attend college is just one stop on your lacrosse journey. DM me if you have any other questions! Wishing you lots of goals, ground balls, and good times with great teammates. You’ve got this girl!
Learn about academic support & tutoring
Hey girl, keeping up with school while playing NAIA lacrosse is no joke. Practices, weight training, film sessions, road trips – it’s a crazy schedule. But we didn’t join the team just to play, we came to earn a degree! Let’s talk about how to take advantage of academic resources so you can excel both on the field and in the classroom.
First, get familiar with the academic center for athletes as soon as you get on campus. Many schools have specific facilities, tutors, advisors and study spaces dedicated to supporting student-athletes. Make sure you know all the services available to you. This is your space to focus on academics without distractions! Don’t be shy about asking for help if you’re struggling with a subject.
Along with tutoring, find out if your school offers writing assistance or has a writing center. I cannot stress enough how helpful this was for me! With papers, lab reports and projects on top of lacrosse, I leaned on the writing tutors to review my work. They helped me improve my writing skills so much. Take advantage of any similar services available.
Meet early on with your academic advisor to map out a plan for your full degree. Look ahead at requirements for your major and make sure to schedule challenging courses when your season is over. Save easier electives for-in season when you need more flexibility with road trips. Your advisor can also help manage your workload if needed.
Get contact info for your professors and communicate with them regularly, especially if you’ll be missing class. Set reminders to check-in before and after away games. Some may allow you to submit work early or do make-up exams. Be proactive and advocate for yourself!
Schedule your time wisely and avoid distractions while studying. Treat studying like it’s part of your athletic training – focus 100% when it’s time to work. Set reminders before tests to start prepping days in advance, not just the night before. And form study groups! Quizzing each other helps material stick.
Make use of learning specialists if offered. Schools may have staff to help assess your individual learning style and create strategies for improvement. They’ll give you tips on reading actively, taking effective notes, and retaining info. This guidance can really pay off!
Don’t neglect office hours and review sessions either. Even 15 minutes chatting with a professor can give you valuable insight before a test. Attend department study sessions even if informal – the extra practice helps cement what you’ve learned.
Lastly, believe in yourself and your abilities even when you struggle at first. College academics can be an adjustment. Use all the resources available and learn how YOU best learn. Don’t get discouraged. You’ve got grit and determination! Stay focused on your education goals and that degree will be yours in no time. Let me know if you have any other questions, girl! You’ve so got this.
Confirm your role on the team & expectations
Woo hoo, you committed to an NAIA lacrosse program! I’m pumped for you! Now that you’ve signed, it’s time to confirm your specific role on the team and understand what will be expected of you as a student-athlete. This info will help you prepare for success in your first season.
First things first, reach back out to the coach and clarify what position you’ll play. The recruiting process moves so quickly, you may have only broadly discussed where you fit into the lineup. Now is the time to reconfirm if you were recruited for attack, midfield, defense or goalie. This affects your preparation over the summer and fall leading up to preseason.
Along with your position, discuss your potential as a starter or back-up. Be honest with the coach about your playing time goals and expectations. Make sure you’re on the same page about what your role could be within the lineup. Don’t assume anything – get clear commitments from the coach.
Ask about off-season conditioning expectations too. Knowing the workout plan over the summer and fall will help you prep. Will the strength coach provide you with a training packet? How often should you check in? Are captain-led practices allowed? Getting guidance directly from the coach sets you up for success.
Make sure you’re crystal clear on eligibility requirements as well. Confirm academic standards needed to be cleared for participation like GPA minimums and enrollment status. Get all compliance-related rules for NAIA eligibility down pat. Staying eligible is priority number one!
Now’s also the time to learn more about team rules, policies and student-athlete code of conduct. All programs have them, so ask for specifics. This includes guidelines around social media, curfew, dress code, gambling, drugs/alcohol, hazing and anything else prohibited. Better to know now and avoid issues down the road.
Along with rules, get a copy of team handbook if one exists. This is your player guidebook covering everything from facilities info to booster clubs to sportsmanship and beyond. Study it to get familiar with how the ins and outs of the program operate.
Get the full scoop on the schedule for summer workouts, fall ball, and preseason camp. Mark your calendar and coordinate travel for required dates. Being prepared with gear, medical forms, etc. prevents stress later on. Ask if any costs will be your responsibility too.
Lastly, connect with academic advising and compliance as early as possible. They’ll walk through registering for classes, finalizing financial aid, and getting cleared for participation. Don’t leave this until the last minute before summer training starts!
Whew, I know that’s a whole lot of info but so key to set you up for four awesome years as a college athlete! Let me know if any other questions come up – you got this girl!
Choose the school where you’ll thrive on & off field
You got the lacrosse skills and smarts to play in college – woo hoo, go you! Now it’s time to pick the right NAIA program where you’ll thrive as a student AND an athlete. I know, I know…deciding where to spend the next four years is stressful. Let’s chat about how to choose the best fit for YOU.
First and foremost, listen to your gut. Which school just feels right? When you visited campus, could you picture yourself there? Don’t ignore that voice inside that tells you “this is the one!” That intrinsic feeling is so important.
Along with your gut, think about the intangibles that will make you happiest. For me, choosing a school with strong team culture and camaraderie was huge. Consider what environment will bring out your best self – is it competitive or collaborative, serious or lively, structured or flexible?
Factor in location too. Is staying close to home important or do you want a new adventure? Look at the surrounding area – what’s available off campus for fun and entertainment? And don’t forget weather! Making it through lacrosse season in a warm climate sure helps 😉
Take a close look at academic offerings as well, especially your intended major. Meet with departments to learn about professors, facilities, internships and career prep. Your education is priority #1, so make sure it’s a good fit.
Tour the athletic facilities and picture yourself training there daily. Check out the lacrosse stadium – can you envision game days on that field? Scope out the locker room, training room, team room, etc. Visualize living your athletic life in that environment.
Ask a ton of questions when you visit and during interviews. Get a feel for team culture. How are freshmen welcomed and integrated? What’s the spirit like – upbeat and enthusiastic or more serious? You want a supportive sisterhood!
Don’t stress too much about playing time. Focus instead on finding somewhere you’re excited to work hard and improve. Coaches notice effort above all else. You’ll earn your role!
Talk to as many current players as possible to learn what they love about the program and school. Get real student perspectives on academics, social life, housing, athletics and more.
Picture life beyond lacrosse too. Is the career center helpful for internships and jobs? Lots of ways to get involved on campus? Study abroad options? Envision your whole college experience!
Most importantly, trust your instincts during the process. You’ll just feel when a school is the right fit. Where you see yourself thriving as a student-athlete and individual – that’s where you belong! Let me know if you need any other advice. You’ve got this girl!