Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/16/14
Head Coach Taylor Wray recently finished his third season at the helm of Saint Joseph’s men’s lacrosse team with impressive numbers. The Hawks went 11-4, led the nation in win percentage increase and tied for fourth in the nation in biggest jump in total number of wins with six overall victories.
He brings prior coaching experience from Lehigh where he was an assistant coach. As a player, Wray excelled at Duke serving as a team captain his senior year. He also played professionally in the National Lacrosse League.
Coach Wray takes a holistic approach to being a student-athlete at the Division I level. He encourages his players, regardless of their position, to be complete lacrosse players whether it’s being a physical attackman on offense or a defensive scoring threat in transition. In the classroom, Wray’s players embrace a broad approach to learning where faculty members emphasize ‘caring for the whole person’.
What advice do you have for young players interested in playing DI lacrosse?
“Most importantly, players need to have a sound fundamental skill set. Practice and play often. Being an all-around athlete is important at the Division I level as well.
“Also, don’t limit yourself to playing one position or to practicing skills specific to a particular position. If you’re a defenseman you should not only be good at scooping groundballs but you should also be a threat in transition and be able to shoot the ball. The assumption “Hey, I’m just an attackman so all I need to do is shoot” is wrong too. Being physical, riding hard, and having good footwork are all equally important.”
What’s the best way for players to get on your recruiting radar?
“The best way is definitely direct contact. Send a concise email including your grades and a highlight tape or a link to one. Tailor your email to a specific coach instead of sending out a blanket email to every college coach. College coaches receive tons of emails and highlight tapes every day, so be concise and send highlights that really showcase your skills.
“The end of the season is the busiest time for me. Right now I have about 1,600 unread emails in my inbox. During the regular season I’ll have a couple hundred unread emails and typically respond to 60-80 of them per day.”
What’s a question players should ask more during the recruiting process?
“Ask a coach what three qualities he values most or ask what three things are most important to him. Think outside the scope of lacrosse and try to connect on a personal level. As a recruit, you should try to understand how the coach operates because he will ultimately be the guy motivating you for the next four years through some pretty intense environments.”
What type of player do you look for – a raw athlete or a refined lacrosse player?
“I look for a combination of both. In general, most coaches are looking for a skilled player with some athleticism. It’s tough to say what quality is more important because it goes both ways. You don’t want all skill and no athleticism because the different types of players compliment each other. You need the raw athlete to clear in transition or draw a slide while you rely on the skilled player to finish the play and score a goal.
“We also look at different types of players depending on the position or depending on what we need for a specific recruiting class.”
What’s special about being a student-athlete at Saint Joseph’s?
“In terms of lacrosse, we play a very up-tempo style game. We’re aggressive and physical with or without the ball at every position. We also like good transition players because they help us play at a very fast pace. Our offense is patient and efficient too.
“There’s something to be said for the Jesuit influence at Saint Joseph’s. It’s reflective in the way the teachers teach. There’s a focus on holistic education. I think it goes back to the Jesuit tradition that emphasizes ‘caring for the whole person’. This definitely attracts a certain type of student-athlete and a certain type of faculty member.”
Great, thanks Coach Wray. Any final thoughts?
“It’s an exciting time to be playing Division I lacrosse. When I played (Duke ’03) there were the top 10 teams and then everybody else. Now there’s a lot of competition out there. Any team can win on any day.”
This is a guest blog by ConnectLAX co-founder Nick Lattimore. ConnectLAX helps recruits highlight their skills and connect with college coaches. Recruits maximize their recruiting exposure with a mobile recruiting profile that is linked to their team’s roster, helping coaches find them on the field and evaluate their profile while watching them play. Create your ConnectLAX mobile recruiting profile for free. Click here to sign up!
Tags: St. Joseph's University