NCAA Division I college lacrosse coaches can begin communicating with high school players in the Class of 2022 beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. So by the time you read this, Manheim Township junior Sydney Witwer will have likely received her first text messages or emails from those at the highest levels of college lacrosse.
“I’m excited to see what happens,” Witwer said by phone Sunday afternoon. “It might be a longer, slower recruiting period. But I’d honestly rather take my time throughout this.”
Witwer recently added to her recruiting profile by participating in the two-day Under Armour All-American East Regional event at Maplezone Sports Institute in Delaware County last week. She was a starting attack for the Philadelphia Highlight team that reached the semifinals of the regional event, which featured teams from Connecticut and New Jersey.
Witwer was teammates on the Philadelphia Highlight squad with Cocalico senior Hannah Custer, who has been verbally committed to NCAA Division I Richmond since September 2019.
“Under Armour is more of the prestigious thing to happen on my recruiting profile,” Witwer said. “Philadelphia is a competitive region. ...it’s highly looked at by college coaches.”
Witwer and Custer are also members of the Lancaster-based Xtreme girls lacrosse club. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the start of the club lacrosse season being pushed back to the first week of July. The club lacrosse circuit is largely where college recruitment takes place for players. But this summer club lacrosse season was unlike any other. There was a limited number of college lacrosse coaches at showcases and tournaments, in part because D-I coaches couldn't travel due to the "dead period" of not being able to speak to recruits until Sept. 1 - D-II coaches have been able to communicate with players in Class of 2022 since June 15.
The majority of events also limited spectators to one parent per player.
“We learned and worked better as a team with no college coaches there,” Witwer said. “It made us grow as a team more.”
But with a limited amount of college coaches there in person, and no D-I coaches there at all, it left Witwer and many others like her with the task of obtaining game film and cutting up a highlight reel she could then send to college coaches. Witwer might have the chance to add to those highlights should there be a club season this fall, a prospect that could be in jeopardy due to the coronavirus.
Custer, on the other hand, went into last week’s Under Armour games knowing it’d be the last event of her club career. A three-sport student-athlete at Cocalico, Custer will begin field hockey practices on Friday.
In spring 2019, Custer was a sophomore starting midfielder who also handled draw control duties for a Cocalico girls lacrosse team that reached the District 3-2A semifinals and the quarterfinal round of the state tournament. That same season, Witwer was the lone freshman for a Blue Streaks squad that won the Lancaster-Lebanon League regular season and tournament crowns and the District 3-3A title before reaching the PIAA Class 3A championship game.
Like all other spring sport student-athletes across the state, Custer and Witwer had their 2020 campaigns canceled before they even began due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They’ll be among the top players in the L-L League should a spring season happen in 2021.
“We (Cocalico) have a lot of good upcoming freshmen and sophomores with potential,” Custer said. “So getting them playing time will be beneficial, but I still have high hopes we’ll be able to compete.”