June 27, 2017

Collegiate Volleyball Start Up Program

Good Morning Coach,

First off - Thank you!!! Your words of wisdom are truly inspiring!

What are your thoughts on a college which is offering volleyball for the first time? There is a DII program just starting at a school that looks interesting to my daughter but we are torn whether or not to jump into the unknown.  She has been offered a MB position at 3 DIII schools (for Fall 2018) which all have long established programs.

While we are not focusing on athletic scholarship money (we are fortunate that she is an exceptional student and are concentrating on the academic aspect of that) it wouldn't hurt to possibly get some $$ for volleyball.



Thank you for the nice compliments about collegevolleyballcoach.com and glad to help!

With start up volleyball programs, which are rare these days, the most important factor to look at is how they are starting up.  Having interviewed with, and had coaching friends interview with, start up programs, there is a wide range of how athletic departments will support the new volleyball program.  Some will scholarship, staff and fund immediately, while others will present a timetable for implementation of support and other schools will say they are working on it.

With a new program, athletes have the chance to be in the unique position of establishing the culture of the program, of being the pioneers of the sport which will go into the athletic department's record books, of coming in with a clean slate and all positive possibilities in front of them.

Of course, the downside is they are the first team and may not have the history of success to draw upon as they develop the program, and depending upon funding, they may not have the resources to garner a winning season anytime soon.

Per NCAA Division II rules, schools are allowed to fund up to 8 athletic scholarships (provided the conference does not have limitations on volleyball scholarships, which some do), which can be packaged with non-athletic scholarships.

I immediately mention athletic scholarships, because that is the critical piece of building any successful DII volleyball program.  If you don't have the scholarship money, you are not going to secure the necessary talented recruits to succeed.  

After scholarship money, you should review how the department is staffing the program.  Are they just going with a head coach for a couple of years or are they allowing for an assistant coach to be hired (not graduate assistant but real assistant coach).  It is tough for a head coach to juggle all the balls necessary to run a successful program; head coaches need assistants!

Lastly, how does the operating budget compare to the other programs in the conference?  No matter year 1 or year 20, a team needs financial support for competition travel, recruiting, equipment, etc.

My advice is to go through the process of evaluating the start up Division II program because it could be a great opportunity.  Just having the opportunity of an athletic scholarship to compliment her academics is worth the effort! 

As with any VolleyFamily and with any potential program, constantly review what is important for your daughter/family (these details change; academics, geographic location, size of school, etc), and then evaluate potential schools in view of your priorities.  

Remember that it is always good to say no thank you to a number of schools before you say yes to that one school.


June 23, 2017

NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Recruiting Question

Hi my name is Jayden Sanford, I just completed my freshman year of high school. I am 14 and, 5"8 3/4 and I started varsity as MH/RS. I am an okay passer, and a good server. I have played club for 3 years, and have attended Nationals once in the USA division and placed 5th and I will be attending Nationals this year in the National division. I was wondering if I have a shot at playing D1 in college... I know the chance is slim but my dad is 6"8 and played D1 basketball, and I would like to follow in his footsteps but with volleyball. 

Thanks in advance.


As I have written online and with Inside College Volleyball, NCAA Division I is the bright light for high school players but may not be the best fit.  I have seen too many VolleyFamilies get hung up on that DI tag and limit themselves in the recruiting process or attain that DI goal only to have a terrible experience because it was not the best match for their collegiate academic and athletic goals.

Much of DI is driven by height; from Stanford to Samford, DI coaches want height.  With your father being 6'8" and your 5'8" (and 3/4) height as a 14 year old, you could well reach 5'10"+ by the time your Senior year rolls around.

For the majority of DI programs, 5'10"ish, will eliminate the Middle Blocker position and the elite DI programs as an Outside Hitter (should you be a great passer with a great approach jump, then it is possible to break into those power conferences, as recent history has shown);  but, mid to lower DI conferences routinely have 5'10" OH's, provided they can receive serve adequately.  As a RS (you mentioned MB/RS as your positions), this may be a bigger challenge, as many DI's load up on tall RS players, because they can convert a MB or poor passing but tall OH to the RS.

If your goal is stubbornly DI, then you should focus on vastly improving your passing skills and defense as to transition to the OH position.  Or, greatly increase your vertical so your 5'10" height jumps like a 6'3" player on the Right.

That being said, and you know what is coming next, look outside the DI category - There are great opportunities with fantastic scholarship packages for quality 5'10" MB's/RS's/OH's in the DII, NAIA and JC levels.

In my recruiting education talks for NCSA, I routinely state "Ability determines Opportunity"; the better your skills the more choices you will have in schools.  

You can't change height, but you can improve your talent to improve your options.  For those players which are not height normal for DI, they can 'make-up' for this genetic reality by working very hard to become the best possible player.