Ward Melville (N.Y.) junior to Jacksonville

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Erin Cunningham, a junior attacker for Ward Melville (East Setauket, N.Y.) has verbally committed to play women’s lacrosse for Jacksonville University.

The junior plays club lacrosse for the Long Island Top Guns 2013 team.

ESPNHS: What other school’s did you consider?

Erin Cunningham: “Dartmouth, UConn, Louisville and UAlbany.”

EHS: What made Jacksonville such an attractive choice?

EC: “Jacksonville was my choice because I felt very comfortable and at home during my visit. Not only from the coaches and girls on the team, but the whole campus gave me that feeling. It's important to take lacrosse out of the picture and ask yourself, "Would I feel comfortable going to this school if I didn't play lacrosse?" I am also interested in majoring in education, and Jacksonville has a 5-year masters program.”

“The coaches really made an impression on me as well. They are very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. I know they will support me as I make the transition to college lacrosse.”

EHS: What surprised you about the recruiting process?

EC: “I was surprised at how early the recruiting process starts. You should be thinking about what schools you are interested in 9th and 10th grade so you are prepared when schools start contacting you. I was told the process could be a lot to think about all at once, and a little overwhelming. I found that I was able to take all the time I needed to make the right and final decision. None of the coaches I spoke to made me feel rushed or pressured which was great.”

EHS: What was the most important question you asked college coaches during the process?

EC: “One of the most important questions I asked the coaches was, is there any academic support given to the team? Lacrosse will be a big part of college, but the most important thing to think about is your education and how it can help you succeed in the future.”

EHS: What one piece of advice would you give to other players who are just starting on the recruiting process?

EC: “I would tell other players to try not to stress out during the process. Balancing your schoolwork, friends, other sports you are playing and dealing with the recruiting process can be a lot, but you need to remember to look at it in a positive way. As a student athlete being recruited we have an opportunity to see schools and meet people who are trying to help us make the best choice possible. I would also tell them to keep their grades up. The higher your grades, the more options you will have when recruiting starts.”

EHS: Is there anything about the recruiting process that you think could change that would have made it easier or less stressful for you?

EC: “Not being able to have two-way phone contact between the coaches and players during junior year can be frustrating. It would be nice to be able to communicate directly by receiving a call from the coach. There are kids giving verbal commitments as sophomores, so a call should be OK.”

E-mail lacrosse editor, Mike Loveday, at Email Michael.Loveday@espn.com with commitments. Follow ESPNHS on Twitter @ESPNMike