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Pros Weigh In: How to Make the Most of Your College Lacrosse Experience
Just settling in to life as a college athlete? We know the feeling.
“I’ve been missing playing college ball since the moment that final whistle blew back in May,” says Justin Guterding, Duke alum.
Guterding had an incredible run with the Blue Devils. He set the NCAA DI all-time goals record at 212 and was a two-time Tewaaraton Award finalist. Moreover, he was a respected leader with an unmatched work ethic and gratitude for the game.
Heading into a new season, Guterding (Duke University), Will Manny (University of Massachusetts), Jesse Bernhardt (University of Maryland), Marcus Holman (University of North Carolina), and Kyle Harrison (Johns Hopkins University) reflected on their college ball experiences and shared their wisdom with the incoming freshman class. Wondering how to navigate the transition from college to high school? These guys have you covered. And while they’re here, they’ll give you the inside scoop on how to make the most of every moment:
Justin Guterding – The young hotshot
Be the hardest worker on the field.
If I had to give one piece of advice to incoming freshmen, it would be to always be the hardest worker on the field. Doesn’t matter what drill or play – never give it less than your all. And then, stay after practice and run it again. And again.
Value people and relationships.
It’s vital to build strong relationships with the people in your program – and not just your teammates, but the training staff, the equipment managers, the marketing crew, and your coaching staff. There are a million things competing for your time, but those relationships are every bit as important – if not more – than hitting the gym or fitting in a couple extra minutes of stickwork. Make people a priority. I know I am who I am today because of the people who invested in me.
Also, gratitude goes a long way – make sure they know how much you appreciate their support!
Remember to take time for others.
One thing I wish I had done more of in college is give back. Grades, performance in a game – all of it means something, but it's not everything. Take time to serve others and be present in your community, whether that's at a soup kitchen, at a local school, or on campus. That's a big part of my life now and something I want to continue to grow.
Stickwork, stickwork, stickwork.
Focus on improving your stick skills. College is a whole different level, and you'll be taking on new roles and learning new plays. But if you're dialed in on your stickwork and those skills feel like second nature, then you can focus on executing the more complex plays.
Jesse Bernhardt – The player-turned-coach
Figure out what’s most important to you and then live like it.
Kobe Bryant said it best – “edit your life.” It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the college experience, but you have to decide early on what’s going to be the most important to you. Is it school? Is it lacrosse? Is it the social scene? It’s all about making that choice and sticking to it.
Take feedback like a champ.
As someone who plays professionally and coaches a group of young college guys, I think one of the biggest things is learning how to take constructive criticism. The type of coaching and instruction you receive at the college level is different than what you get at the high school or club level. You’re probably going to get a lot more feedback. It’s important to recognize that it’s coming from a place of wanting you to grow – it’s not personal. The players who take coaching and apply it will always come out on top.
Marcus Holman – The team captain
Go hard and get in the best shape of your life.
If you want to stand out, it’s simple – get in shape. Success on the skills side is 10 times more difficult if you can’t keep up with the runs or lifting. I remember working extremely hard the summer before my freshman year to pass my run test. The strength and endurance I built up during that time had a significant impact on my in-game performance. Lacrosse is such a technical sport, but there’s also a ton of running back and forth. You can have the best dodge in the world, but if you’re not in shape, you won’t have enough staying power to deliver at that same level over the course of the game and the season.
Appreciate the opportunity you’ve been given and soak up every second.
With all the hard work and hours that go into playing a college sport – practices, gym sessions, runs, bus rides, game days, injuries, losses, victories – there’s an amazing brotherhood that forms. Those four years fly by, so soak up every second you have with your teammates. Have a good time, learn from each other and never take it for granted.
Kyle Harrison – The lacrosse legend and NCAA Champion
Find your routine.
Figure out your routine ASAP! When do you do your best work? When is it best to eat so you're fueled for practice and class? Are you drinking enough water and getting enough sleep? Time management, balance, and prioritization are key. The quicker you get into a routine, the easier things will come.
Prepare for the HUGE adjustment, and rise to the challenge for the rest.
The game will be faster and the talent will be out of this world. Both of those things are a HUGE adjustment. No one expects you to be 100 percent prepared for the pace of college lacrosse right away, but you’re expected to handle the ball, and run drills just like everyone else. Get on the wall, play catch with a teammate or sibling, and prioritize runs so you can get up and down the field with your teammates. The amount of effort and energy you put into coming into school and the season prepared will earn you major respect from your teammates.