Lacrosse Recruiting in the NESCAC

Here’s a great article on the lacrosse recruiting process in the NESCAC written by Chris Meade, co-Founder of


As many of you know, the NESCAC is the New England Small College Athletic Conference. It is an athletic conference made up of academically more and most selective liberal arts institutions. On top of the institution’s high academic caliber, the league is often considered the most competitive Division 3 conference. According to LaxPower’s Power Rankings, the league has had one of the strongest power rankings over the past 5 years. Reigning national champion, Tufts, is one of the member institutions.

Right now, a number of ODAC and Centennial graduates are rolling their eyes. Both conferences have strong academic reputations and strong lacrosse programs. Over the past couple of years, the word NESCAC has become a buzzword on the recruiting trail. For example, “Is that school a NESCAC school?” or “Do you play in that NESCAC league?” My personal favorite is, “if my kid doesn’t go big time D1/Ivy, I want him to go NESCAC.” It helps that over the past decade schools like Middlebury, Wesleyan and Tufts have consistently ranked in the Top 10 in Division 3 as well as Amherst and Williams always being in contention for the Top Liberal Arts Institution in the country.

So here is my disclaimer, I love talking about the NESCAC and have lots to say because I went through the NESCAC recruiting/admissions process and ended up at Wesleyan. I graduated in 2005 after our school’s first trip to the NCAA tournament. The following years brought two trips to the NCAA Semi Finals and then a NESCAC Championship. (Not bragging or anything). Matt Wheeler, who I started with, also went to Wesleyan and played lacrosse with me.

I end up answering many emails regarding the recruiting process at these schools. So here is some background information about the admissions process for a lacrosse recruit at these institutions.

Some Admissions Tips

To get started, it has become increasingly important for recruits to apply early decision. Almost 95% of recruited athletes will apply early decision at an institution. This is a way for the coach to know that the athlete is reciprocating the effort they are making to bring a player to their school. The effort is also monitored by admissions liason who goes between the athletic department and the admission’s office. By going early decision, the coach knows that if you are accepted, you will be coming.

There are a few wrinkles between the different schools in the conference. For example, Bowdoin and Bates have an SAT optional policy that makes it a good choice for strong academic performers in the classroom who may struggle with standard tests. To a lesser degree, similar situations are available at Colby and Connecticut College.  At Colby, applicants can make up their SAT score with any three SAT 2 subject scores. The admissions interview is a must for a player who is borderline for a program. The interview shows effort and interest to the admissions staff allowing a student athlete to explain any weaknesses in their application.

What is a band?

NESCAC institutions use a banding system that the athletic and admissions departments use to rank players who seek admission. The banding breaks players up based on GPA, Class Rank, SAT (or ACT) and SAT 2 and then categorizes them as A Band, B Band or C Band. Over a 4 year period, schools slot a certain amount of players per band. The system allows for more flexibility than the Ivy’s Academic Index but limits weaker academic applicants. Schools are generally given 4-7 slots per year. At a school like Williams, the class may be made up of 4 A Band students and 2 B Band students. The same B Band student at Williams could be considered an A Band student at a slightly less selective school like Bates.

So here is a general outline of A, B and C Bands for NESCAC schools.

A Band

SAT Scores 700+ average all above 670

SAT II 710

GPA: 92+ GPA, Almost All As

Class Rank: Top 5%

Courses: 4+ APs, Honors Classes

B Band

SAT scores 650+ average, all above 620

SAT II 640

GPA: 88+ GPA, Mix of As, Bs

Class Rank: Top 15%

Courses: Few AP Courses, Honors

C Band

SAT scores 630+ average, all above 590

SAT II 600

GPA:  85+ GPA, Mix of As, Bs, occasional Cs

Class Rank: Top 20%

Courses:  Honors

As I said, these are general numbers but they serve as a benchmark to better understand where a student athlete stands. As you narrow down your schools of interest, providing your transcript and speaking with the coach will provide the greatest feedback and realistic expectations.

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