A typical summer would have lacrosse tournaments and club ball being played all over the country by high school players looking to catch the eye of college coaches, many of whom would be parked on the sideline with notepads in hand.
With the coronavirus pandemic limiting play and prohibiting coaches from seeing potential recruits in person (along with conducting camps), players are making sure to take advantage of any time they are seen on the field while relying on other tools to get noticed.
For coaches, game tape and highlight videos have long been used to help evaluate potential recruits. These days, they are the primary source.
This summer, the annual Under Armour All-America high school boys and girls lacrosse games shifted to a region format for underclassmen, with the South tournament taking place at Meadowood Regional Park in Lutherville last week from Thursday to Sunday.
In the four divisions — two each for the boys and girls — 56 games are being played and each one is being taped by First Scout Productions. The tournament sponsor, Corrigan Sports Enterprises, is passing along the footage to any interested college programs free of charge.
First Scout president Jon Chastney, who founded the company in 2010 and has partnered with Corrigan on events since 2014, said the added responsibility is a welcome challenge.
He had three crew members shooting Thursday’s opening day with one camera focused on each game. In addition to sending game tape to coaches, the players can purchase tapes or have personal highlight videos produced by First Scout.
“Film has always been an important part of the college recruiting process, but never has it been the essential link between college coaches and athletes,” Chastney said.
“Our mission statement is to impact the world around us for good and help our clients achieve their goals through attention to detail and excellent quality service. So I feel this year we have a responsibility to do that even more. Every time we go out now, the kids know and the coaches know — everybody knows — those cameras may as well be the coaches’ eyes. So it’s definitely taken on a whole new meaning and, for us, we’re trying to be on point and just do a good job for the kids to help them get recruited.”
Navy women’s coach Cindy Timchal said the improved quality of the game tapes and the access the event sponsors have afforded has helped immensely in recruiting players during the pandemic.
“We used to look at video as an opportunity to say ‘Hey, this player caught my eye this weekend and when we get to the next tournament, lets make sure we go see her play.’ That type of thing,” she said. “That’s not there right now, so if there is a video that can really enhance an ability for a player to be noticed, [it’s beneficial]. A lot of college coaches will say they can’t make a decision on video, but it definitely helps and we’re really appreciative.”
For Gracie Driggs, a rising junior midfielder for St. Mary’s, making the Baltimore Highlight team (2021 and 2022 players) has been a great opportunity to showcase her skills among the best players in the region. The Baltimore side, playing against Washington and a South team, went 4-0 in Thursday’s round-robin play and beat the South team, 14-7, for the title Friday to advance to the All-America championship weekend against the three other region champions this fall.
Since the eighth grade, Driggs’ father has been videotaping her games, and she began editing the footage on her own last year and sending highlight packages to college coaches.
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On Thursday, she scored two goals in round-robin play and two more in the title game to give the coaches some good things to watch. She plans to edit the film over the weekend and ship it out early next week.
“Film has been a huge part of what I’ve been doing lately,” she said. “I try to send film out at least every two weeks after tournaments or after a scrimmage just to keep college coaches updated and an idea what the summer is looking like even though they can’t be there. I think it’s really important right now because we don’t know what’s happening with recruiting and we can’t see them. So it’s important to make sure they know you’re still working hard and you’re still getting better on the field.”
The past two weeks, McDonogh rising junior High Brown has found normalcy getting on the lacrosse field for some quality competition.
Last week, he was playing in the annual STX National High School Lacrosse Shwcase, playing with teammates from McDonogh at Blandair Regional Park in Columbia. This weekend, he’ll be playing for the Baltimore Highlight team (2021 and 2022) in the South region tournament at Meadowood.
Brown said not seeing any college coaches at the events are strange, but he’s fine with it.
“Film is so crucial for us right now,” he said. “It’s definitely weird not seeing the coaches there, but they’re all watching on film. It’s actually more relaxing because you don’t have them sitting right there in person staring at you with their clipboards. So I personally like the coaches watching on film better than being in person because some of the stress is taken away. It’s definitely in the back of my mind though that they’re watching at home.”