Senior and Tam News design and photo editor, Lucky Shulman, will be fulfilling her longtime goal of playing midfield for the UCLA lacrosse team next year. Growing up mainly on the East Coast, Shulman was surrounded by an intensely competitive lacrosse community since the age of seven. “[In New Hampshire] it’s honestly really out of the ordinary if you’re not committed to a Division I lacrosse program,” she said. “Playing in that environment, I was always just naturally pushed to get better.” At age 14 Shulman and her family moved to Marin, where she noticed a shift in the level of competition.
“When I came to Tam, the team was made up of mostly girls that had never touched a lacrosse stick before,” said Shulman. Forced into a distinctly different lacrosse environment, Shulman adopted new goals.
“Building up a program that was strong enough to really succeed and have the respect that I definitely didn’t see coming in was really important to me since freshman year,” Shulman said. “That goal has stayed the same.”
In addition to developing the Tam lacrosse program, Shulman also made a more personal decision during her freshman year: quitting club lacrosse. Today she continues to embrace that decision.
“I just think it’s important for people to see that you don’t need to play on these big, fancy club teams and go to these really expensive private schools in order to play where you want to play [in college],” she said.
Shulman has had her eye on UCLA since touring the school during her freshman year. The UCLA lacrosse team is a club team, meaning the coach does not have to follow NCAA recruiting regulations, has no recruiting budget, and can communicate with potential student-athletes at any given time.
This shifted Shulman’s view of the recruiting process. Starting her sophomore year, Shulman begin emailing Coach Paige Lin. Lacking a recruiting budget, Lin informed Shulman that in order to see her play, Shulman’s only opportunities were to attend a three-day camp in the summer, and a one-day camp in the fall, each year. Shulman’s diligent camp attendance and communication with Coach Lin paid off. The summer before her senior year, she was among a select group called into Lin’s office for one-on-one meetings.
“It was an evaluation for if I was qualified to be admitted to the school, and would I actually commit to playing on the team instead of just using [lacrosse] as a tool to get into UCLA,” she said. Shulman was not ensured any kind of recruiting commitment, nor entitled to exemptions from the competitive admissions process, due to the lack of recruiting power possessed by club teams.
“I had to apply to the school just like any normal applicant, and heard back the same time as everyone else. The coach just puts your name on a list of people sent to the admissions office, and says she really wants these people for lacrosse. But they don’t have to let you in, nothing is guaranteed,” Shulman said. It wasn’t until Shulman was academically accepted into UCLA on March 18, that her recruiting process was complete.
This past year, Shulman’s focus has been on finishing the Tam lacrosse season strong.
“This year it has been our goal to really connect on the field,” she said. “I think about how to give instruction in a way that’s constructive, without just yelling. Even if we get crushed, which is a lot of the time, playing as a team rather than as just individuals is what keeps our spirits up and makes us want to get better.”
She also highlighted how her personal goals have intertwined with her goals for Tam lacrosse.
“Wanting to play well in college, and especially playing in college coming from a team that usually doesn’t have recruited athletes is what really pushes me to try to get better and to build a strong [Tam] lacrosse team.”
Shulman hopes her lacrosse career and recruiting experience will help break the mold of what is expected from competitive lacrosse players seeking a collegiate career.
“I hope I am setting an example for girls coming into the program, that if your goal is to play in college, you can come to Tam. It’s still an option for you–it’s not the end of your lacrosse career. It’s about you, and how much work you’re going to put into yourself and your team.” ♦