May 10, 2008

College Volleyball Camps and Recruiting

First of all, let me apologize for not posting any information or answers to questions recently - I have transitioned to a new school and have just been way too busy! Now that things are a bit more under control and we are in the DI Recruiting Quiet Period, I will be able to provide some current information.

One of our readers has asked a very good question about College Volleyball Camps and Recruiting:

I am a junior and have already done a lot of the things you suggest. I play club ball on a national team, have attended showcases and 2 camps between my sophomore/junior year. I have my skills tape on the Internet and have contacted coaches with a link to it. I have been in contact by email with several coaches as a result of all of this. I have also sent out a game tape to all of them. Many of them have suggested I can play at the college level and that if I visit their school be sure to stop in and see them, or call them if I have questions. Mainly DIV III, but a couple DIV II. I did this with one of them. I have also received emails and mailings with camp information from 5 schools. Some of them have personal notes inviting me to the camp and one suggested coming early and spending the night with players. My question is how do I know if the camp info is from a school that is thinking about recruiting me or just sending info that they are having a camp? I think that the school that suggested spending time with players might be interested. There is a DIV I school that sent me an email with the camp info. There wasn't anything personal, just a line at the end saying contact the assistant coach if I had questions about the camp. They contacted me once before, after a showcase with a recruiting questionnaire, again - nothing personal to me. If that school was interested, I'd probably go to that camp for sure. Do I just call and ask, and what do I say? - Heather

First of all, Heather has done a nice job of being proactive in the recruiting process - there are so many talented high school volleyball players that have the ability to play at the college level, that many times (and all college coaches are guilty of this) the college coaches can just lose track or not find out about many players.

Summer Volleyball Camps hosted by colleges have become a significant recruiting tool during the Sophomore and Junior years of high school. By and large, it is an Unofficial Visit by the player, yet the camp also allows the college coach(s) to train the Prospective Student Athlete because it is a skill instructional camp. College programs that are proactive in the recruiting process have become very aggressive about using their summer camps as a means of evaluating and recruiting the PSA's that they believe will help the program.

As Heather talks about, how do you separate those programs that are recruiting with those that are just running the camp. A simple step would be to cross-reference the list of schools that Heather has contacted and received a response from, with those schools that have sent her camp information. If the only correspondence or response from a college program has just been for camp, then I would venture to say that this program is not interested in her as a potential member of the team.

If a school has been interactive in the recruiting process before the camp season and then suggests attending the camp as a means to get to know the program better, then this may be a good opportunity. Just an e-mail or camp letter is nothing more than business - don't be afraid to go to such a camp if you are academically interested in the school and feel you could showcase your talents; this has happened at many, many schools with players that received an opportunity because of their efforts.

With this being later in the Spring and later in the Club season, if the majority of the contact that you have received has been from non-Division I schools, then I would say that your level of ability would be Division II or III. While DI programs can't be everywhere at all times with Juniors tournaments, they have the resources to send out information or introductory letters to anyone they feel is or could become a Division I volleyball player. That is not to say that a Division I opportunity may not present itself very late in the process (just look at all the late DI commitments this year for Seniors), but statistically you may find a better volleyball fit with the non DI schools.

If you can afford to attend 3 camps this summer, then this is what I would suggest based on your questions: Go to the camps of the two schools (whatever division) that have been the most interactive with you thus far in the recruiting process and that you are the most interested in - this would allow you to compare and contrast your top two interactive schools. Take the third camp opportunity and shoot high with the one Division I camp that you expressed a strong interest in - who knows what will become of it, but at least you can practice volleyball!

The most important part of the recruiting process is effective communication - not only by the PSA, but also understanding what is being said or not being said by the college programs. If you are confused or have a question, then call or e-mail the college coach - all the numbers and e-mails can be found at the college websites. If there is no response or the answer is evasive, then you have your answer.

Good luck and you are doing a great job!