(The Ruden Report spent last weekend at The Northern Rise girls lacrosse showcase to go behind the scenes of the sport’s summer circuit. In this third part, a look at Staples’ Colleen Bannon as she nears the end of the recruiting process.)
GILL, Mass. — The day before Colleen Bannon headed to The Northern Rise girls lacrosse showcase, her future stars seemed aligned. She already had an offer from a school that interested her, and though she had not yet made a verbal commitment, that appeared to be as close as a free position near goal.
“I don’t think anything could sway me,” said Bannon, a junior midfielder at Staples who plays for the CT Grizzlies club team. “We were going through the pros and cons and there really weren’t any cons. The only thing that might change things is scholarship money.”
Now, a week later, Bannon’s mindset has been altered. A visit to a college prior to leaving for The Northern Rise proved a positive experience, and an offer from it that Bannon believes is imminent has her weighing between the two schools, strong northeast colleges among the type that have demonstrated the most interest.
Bannon’s situation — a player at the homestretch of making a final decision on her future — is one example of the weight summer tournaments have in the college recruiting process. For many players, it is the first opportunity to demonstrate skills that will cause coaches to take notice. For others, it is the chance to reinforce initial opinions. And for those like Bannon, an option can expand into options.
Bannon headed into this final showcase of the summer season knowing the importance of making a strong showing but, with an offer already secured, a little less pressure.
“This showcase is very important — they are all very important — but considering this is the last one…,” Bannon said. “Coaches will see you and it could be a deciding factor if they want you or not. You just want to leave it all on the field. It is one of the last times you get to show the coaches what you are made of. I’m less nervous for this weekend just because I do have offers so I at least know I have something on the table.”
In talks throughout the tournament with girls from three area clubs, there was a unanimous feeling that there is something more unique about playing for your high school team, due to the inherent nature of what the players’ priorities are for the different seasons.
“I would say I play better during the (high school) season,” Bannon said. “There is more of a common goal to win. In the summer you are trying to impress the coaches. There is more individual play, which doesn’t help the team.”
Still, Bannon proved again she can thrive under the spotlight during the two days her Grizzlies 2017 team played. It finished with a 3-1 record — the one loss by a goal, as Bannon was quick to point out.
“I think I definitely stepped it up at the end,” Bannon said. “The beginning was a big shaky but I think overall our team really came together and they pushed me to do my best. The last game was probably the most stressful. One of the offers I had, the coaches from that school were there. But it honestly just makes you a better player. I wasn’t too nervous for the tournament, but the coaches on the side do push you to do your best.”
For players like Bannon, there is an ancillary benefit to the club season. While Staples has a solid program, it does not attract the same attention as perennial powers like Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Greenwich.
“It is really cool to play with girls from other schools,” Bannon said. “You learn from them and it makes you a better player.”
It is also a chance for Bannon to show her ability to compete at an even level with players from more heralded programs.
Bannon’s weekend ended differently than expected. The second school to get involved with Bannon has demonstrated increased interest. Bannon’s feeling is reciprocal. Bannon said the Grizzlies coaches have recommended that she give the second school a closer look. Gannon said she has done her due diligence and spoken to players from the second school, which has further piqued her interest.
The school with the offer on the table has given Bannon a 30-day deadline to make a decision, which is July 29th.
“I really like both schools,” Bannon said.
As a good showcase performance proved, an option can indeed become options.
Said Bannon, “I feel like I’m in a good position.”