September 29, 2014

College Volleyball Scholarship Renewals

Hi Coach,
I've learned so much from your blog and book; however, I do have a question that I can't seem to find the answer to.

My daughter is a freshman receiving a full scholarship.  We know the coaches have received commitments from two high school seniors to play OH (my daughter's position), bring the total of OHs to 5.  My daughter has not played yet this season (although there is a lot left)
it seems her coaches are not planning to utilize her.  

At what point is the coach obligated to let our daughter know if she will receive another full scholarship for next season?
Thanks, T.B.

Thank you for your email and sorry this is something which you need information on.

Per NCAA rules, renewals or non-renewals must be presented before the end of the annual academic term (May or June depending upon each school).

There are two critical time segments when it comes to current student-athletes and scholarships.  Post season meetings will occur either in late November/early December or when school starts after the Holiday break.  During these meetings, coaches will often let players know if they will be cut from the program and steps will be taken to provide the player a Permission to Contact Letter so they can pursue other playing opportunities.  

The second time segment is after the end of the spring season, where coaches may meet again with the student-athletes.  Some coaches will tell a returner at this late juncture whether they will return based upon the player's spring performance or based upon the success of the program in recruiting another player in the same position.

If the program has post season meetings before the Holiday break, and if your daughter is concerned, she needs to point blank ask the coach if she will remain on scholarship.  

What you absolutely don't want to happen, is for your daughter to be told she will not have her scholarship renewed in the late spring.  By this time, the other playing/scholarship opportunities for next fall will be tremendously reduced. Unfortunately, too many college programs will tell an athlete so late in the spring that they are being cut, that it does not allow the player to find another home.

Good luck!

Coach Sonnichsen

September 25, 2014

College Volleyball Recruiting - Business and Personal

Dear Coach,

I have a senior daughter who has absolutely gone thru hell during the recruitment process.It started out well as a 15 year old building prospects and laying the groundwork for her later years.

Since her position is libero, she was always realistic in what her prospects were. We never seemed to overestimate anything. The one thing we did not expect was the inability of the coaches or the recruiters to be forthright and honest during the process.

Is it your understanding that they do not like to personally give bad news to a recruit and can only do it thru email?  They seem to give false hope...then 3 days later crush the young recruit.  Have they no decency?  Why can they not be honest...why do they play word games?   Why are they so inconsiderate of recruits,parents and loved ones...all over a game?   What in the world is going on?  Please tell me this is not normal?

I am not talking about just any programs.  I am talking about some of the best institutions in the country.  Are they all game players?

Please I am desperate and need your guidance.  Why is it difficult for them just to say  "I don't need you" please move on.


Devastated Dad

Thank you for your email and I am sorry to hear the challenges and frustration that the college volleyball recruiting process has had upon your family.  

Unfortunately, the examples of what you speak of are very common and I have heard the same refrain from many VolleyFamilies.  To answer your questions:

1)  Email is the easiest and non personal way to tell a recruit/family that they are no longer being recruited by the program, and I am aware of many instances where a family may go on an invited unofficial visit, and then get dismissed a few days later.  Please remember that the Libero position can be the most harsh for VolleyFamilies because there are so many talented liberos that college coaches can easily find a good player.

2)  College volleyball is a business for the coaches (it is not a game because it is their livelihood and this is how they financially survive) but the recruiting segment is personal for families.  This is where the stress and frustration comes from for families.  As nice and sincere and cool and friendly a college coach is, it is still a business for them and that business is winning volleyball matches.  The feelings of the player/family does not come into that equation - it is very simple; what athlete will help me win more matches?

3)  The reason they play word games and give false hope, is they are hedging their bets to make sure that if their #1 recruit says no, then they have #2 lined up and if #2 says no, then they have #3 lined up, etc., etc., etc.  They will not tell #3 and #2 they are no longer being recruited until #1 has committed; and even then, they may string along #2 and #3 just incase there are any openings which may unexpectedly come up.

4)  While a broad statement, this is the new normal for recruiting and it does include the "best institutions" in the country.  Don't confuse a school's academic reputation with a program's standard operating procedure - AD's want coaches to win and as long as they are not breaking NCAA rules, going over budget or violating the law, then AD's are not interested in the experience of the players/recruits/families (don't believe the propaganda of the "student-athlete experience".)

College volleyball recruiting and college volleyball can be a harsh world. It is a business and the business is bringing in the best athletes, as often as possible, so the program can win matches.  Winning matches is how college coaches keep their jobs, get raises and get better paying positions with other schools.  Gone are the days of low key recruiting, and mentoring players and building up talent levels - These are blanket statements and by no means cover every collegiate program, but I have just seen too much to believe that the good ol' days of college volleyball are still here.

Moving forward - You must change your mindset to one of business not personal, to quote the Godfather.  Your PSA should be reaching out to hundreds of schools which fit her AAG (Athletic/Academic/Geographic preferences), and then staying in communication with these schools.  As parents, you must go on every unofficial/official visit, you should have access to emails so you can read between the lines and help guide the communication, and you must understand that the college coach is constantly evaluating whether or not your PSA will make their college team better, and better than another PSA. The second the college coaches determines no, then that coach/program will move on and you should have your #2, #3, #4 lineup and ready to roll.

With my NCSA Volleyball Recruiting Education talks, I tell families that they must "manage the recruiting process or it will manage you".

Good luck and hang tough!

Coach Sonnichsen