By Chris Goldberg
Dave Pietramala told nearly 300 showcase participants today that we are in “unprecedented and challenging times” but that high school lacrosse players still have “control of their fate.”
The former Johns Hopkins head coach was the guest speaker at a recruiting seminar to kick off the Victory Events Liberty National Elite Showcase at Maple Zone in Aston. Pietramala admitted that his life has drastically changed since he and Hopkins parted ways in April after 20 successful seasons in Baltimore.
And Pietramala used his situation as a metaphor to explain to the players that they must adjust to life as student-athlete under COVID-19 pandemic times.
“We’re all in uncertain times and what we’re preparing for, quite frankly, is not the same as it was,” he said. “At the age of 52 my life has changed drastically. I spent the last 30 years on the sidelines of the lacrosse field. Now the reality is that I am no longer on the sidelines and no longer evaluating kids like you here now.
“We are all facing challenges in these unprecedented times.”
Pietramala said coaches can easily tell which athletes continued to work and improve themselves during the lockdown. He noted that the Division I coaches cannot attend events until at least the fall but that all games are being filmed and send to D1 coaches. Division II and III can attend; mostly only Division III coaches have been attending recruiting events.
“It’s easy to feel uncomfortable and just say, ‘This sucks.’ No Division I college coaches will be here today and none will be watching you on the sidelines. Some of you may ask, ‘Am I going to be evaluated. Am I going to get seen? Will coaches see my positives on film?’
“There is a lot of angst.”
“You need to trust the college coaches. Now, they are filming every game and providing film to every Division I college coach. That’s a big difference from what we’ve been doing. When I was coaching I would catch a game and see two players and know I have another two players I wanted to see but couldn’t because the game was at the same time across the complex.
“I have talked to Division I coaches and they are waking up early and watching four games and then spending time with their family and watching four more games. They spend more time with their family and before they go to sleep they watch four more games. That’s 12 games a day!
So this can be a negative, but it can also be a positive.”
Pietramala said the 2021 class has the most immediate challenges because the players are preparing for their senior years with no knowledge of when they will be able to communicate with Division I college coaches. Pietramala remains on the board of the Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association and said it has not been decided if the normal Sept. 1 date for communication with rising juniors will be moved back.
“The 2021 class is the most challenged,” he said. “You’re not far from college and you’re not getting the ability to have coaches evaluate you live . Plus, the NCAA is allowing fifth year players to return to their schools. Many of these players and transfers will gobble up spots.
“You are wondering, ‘Will I get seen?’ Coaches will do their jobs. Is it different? Sure. They want to smell the horses and see how big you are in person, but coaches have also been evaluating players through film for years.
“You can’t control some of these factors. You can control what you do.
“Coaches wanted to see who would come out on the other side and be killing it once the games began? They can see who took the time to work out, who took the time to run and lift. We have a sign at Hopkins, “I will find a way or make one.”
“Plain and simple. We can see who is way ahead and who did the work. We can see who didn’t do anything.”
Pietramala said he will be very prepared if and when a new coaching job comes along. He knows, more than ever, what he wants in a recruit.
“I spent the last couple months re-thinking what I want in a lacrosse player,” he said. “What a great opportunity it has been to watch and learn and listen and re-evaluate what I want for players in my next job.
“The first thing is competitiveness. There is nothing worse than a guy with talent that does not compete.
The second thing is a man for others – selflessness. I want a player that cares more about others than himself. I want great teammates. Of course you have to do your school work and be strong in the classroom.
“Know that coaches are always looking. It’s what you do when no one is watching that sets you apart.”