Empower the Athlete has been receiving a lot of questions lately about the “Post Graduate” (“PG”) Year. An extra year of high school is a big commitment, and private schools that take PGs are both challenging and financially costly. So the big question remains “is taking a PG Year a good idea for you?” Empower the Athlete left it to the experts to provide you with their own insight on this topic.
Q&A With Randy Hobbs, Head Coach at the Kent School
Randy Hobbs is the boys lacrosse head coach of the Kent School in Connecticut. The Kent School is located in the scenic mountains of western Connecticut, and competes athletically in the prestigious Founders League with the likes of Deerfield, Taft, Salisbury, Loomis Chafee, Choate, and a few others.
Coach Hobbs has been at Kent since 1993 where he also teaches Physics and coaches football. He is the current President of the New England Lacrosse Coaches Association. He played collegiately at Dartmouth where he was an All-Ivy defenseman. Kent teams are consistently one of the most competitive programs in New England and play one of the most challenging schedules in all of high school lacrosse; this year’s team features 7 players that will go on to play collegiate lacrosse next year. Post Graduate students are a part of the community at Kent, and Coach Hobbs has substantial experience coaching PG athletes. Empower the Athlete was lucky to have the chance to pick Coach Hobbs’ brain about what the PG year is all about.
- ETA: On average, how many PGs would you have a given year at Loomis Chafee? What was the most you ever had in one year?
RH: Two to Three; the most was 5.
- ETA: What is the instance where you think a high school player would really benefit from a PG year?
RH: Just about everyone who has come to Kent for a PG year has benefitted. Many have benefitted by getting into a lacrosse program or school that was a better choice for them than they would have had without the year. But most of the benefits are off the field; the maturity gained by a year of being in a supportive environment with high academic expectations and some independence better prepares the student for college.
- ETA: What are the circumstances where a player might want to do a PG year where you would advise against it?
RH: If a student wants to improve their GPA for the National Clearinghouse only, this is not the place. NCAA rules only allow one course from a fifth year to count towards the clearinghouse GPA. Also, the student must be committed to being in high school for one more year. You do not have the freedom of college at boarding schools and you have to understand that before you arrive.
- ETA: What was the timeline like for the admissions process for PGs when you were at Loomis? Can they decide to apply in the spring of their senior year after they have gotten acceptance letters back? Should they start the process much sooner?
RH: Admissions deadlines are in February but applications are accepted in the spring and even in the summer. The earlier the application the more likely the availability of financial aid.
- ETA: How much does the ability of the player come into factor when they would contact you about PGing at your school? And with it being a factor, how would you evaluate their ability? Watch film? Talk to their coach?
RH: Ability is a factor if their main goal is to be a college lacrosse player. I would evaluate three ways: watch film; contact their high school coach, and try and watch them play if possible.
- ETA: Do schools “recruit” PGs? Or do the prospects usually contact the school/coach first? Do college coaches refer high school seniors who they think should get another year of experience/improve grades to specific schools or coaches?
RH: Every student who comes to a boarding school is recruited. Our admissions office goes out and seeks students to apply. Some references come from college coaches or club coaches that reach out to schools to help place players. Our league rules are such that the student or parent should make first contact with the coach. At that point the coach can make contact with the player.
- ETA: You are well aware of how the recruiting process has advanced over the years, and starts at a younger age in players high school careers. From a high school coach’s standpoint, has this affected the process of developing good players for the next level? Has the mentality of players you coach shifted because they are being recruited earlier in their HS career?
RH: I believe that coaching is coaching. Players need to be made aware of the recruiting process and begin to contact coaches before and during their junior year, preferably right after their sophomore season. In the case of a PG year they need to contact the coaches as soon as they decide to do a PG year and let them know where they will be attending school, and also any opportunities that the coach may be able to watch them play during their senior spring or the summer.
- ETA: How has the advanced recruiting process affected the PG year if at all?
RH: By the time a PG reaches campus most of the Division 1 coaches have their initial verbal commitments. It is also happening at the Division 3 level as well. Because of this PGs need to be proactive in making contacts before they arrive on their prep school campus.
- ETA: Since most NE boarding schools season ends around the same time as the college season, there is less of a chance for college coaches to scout these teams’ games. So many of the players from schools like yours get almost all of their exposure to coaches from summer camps and tournaments. How does the PG year help with recruiting? Seeing as they will probably be decided on a college before they ever even play for the school they are PGing at.
RH: This is correct. In essence they will be getting a second “junior summer” to get recruited. But if the player is a Division 1 scholarship kid he may already be a known quantity to the college coaches.