Players Can Have DI Experience at DIII School, Says Cantabene


There are numerous opportunities to play college lacrosse outside Division I, including at Stevenson, a perennial Division III power.

This article appears as part of the “Myth Busters” package in the September/October edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

Starry eyed prospects dream of playing Division I lacrosse. But with only so many spots to fill with each recruiting class, the bubble bursts. There are plenty of other opportunities to play college lacrosse, many of which provide a similar experience.

Between Division II and III, MCLA and WCLA and NAIA lacrosse, there are hundreds of programs from which to choose. The Division I outcast is not doomed.

“I’m someone who always had high expectations for himself, so I always thought I’d be playing Division I lacrosse,” Roanoke sophomore Wyatt Naylor told US Lacrosse Magazine earlier this year.

Instead, Naylor has found a more suitable spot at one of the preeminent Division III men’s lacrosse schools in the country.

“We offer those kids a really good home. It’s a chance for them to play a little bit earlier and compete at a program that cares about lacrosse and it’s the biggest sport at the school,” Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene said. “ A program that’s going to help them develop, and you’re going to be more of a family member than a number.”

Cantabene has experienced many recruits struggling with the decision between living out the Division I dream or finding better opportunities at small colleges. Stevenson is one of 236 Division III men’s lacrosse programs. Division III women’s lacrosse membership is up to 282.

Although Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarships, Cantabene said, academic scholarships and financial aid can ease the burden for many prospective athletes.

“We think we do give them the Division I experience, because we do have the Under Armour deals and the Maverik deals, and East Coast Dyes takes care of us,” Cantabene said. “We have a great stadium and we play a great schedule. Even though you’re at the Division III level, you’re being treated like you’re a Division I player.”

And it gets better for those looking into Division II and NAIA lacrosse. Both classifications allow for athletic scholarships. For Division II lacrosse, there are 58 men’s programs and 100 women’s teams. NAIA institutions can offer up to 12 full scholarships and with a few more programs, lacrosse will be considered for full championship status.

Then there are the MCLA and WCLA, featuring more than 400 college club teams that mimic the experience of full NCAA programs, with similar eligibility rules, national polls and a national tournament to decide Division I and II champions.

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