December 14, 2008

Club Volleyball Quandry - Do I Stay or Do I Go?

This is the first question of its kind that I have received from a reader, but I would suspect that this time of year, many other PSA's and parents could easily find themselves in this position:

Our daughter, let’s caller her Q, tried out for the 17-18 teams at our current club.
Last year she was a top 16’s and her HS team finished in the top four at State this year.
The 18’s garnered seven new Seniors from outside the club wanting to get seen and this pushed several returning players (Srs) to the 2nd team. So Q ended up being placed on the 3rd team – which has a short setter 5’7” and an inexperienced shorter back-up.
We are thinking this will NOT be a good team to be on as the setting is weak and they will always play at a lower level. We are planning on sitting out until the end of January to see if a spot on another club team may open. $3000 is a lot to spend for an less than average experience.
My question is this – since she is a Junior are we risking too much by rolling the dice and hoping for a chance on a better squad? We have been in contact with various colleges and wonder how they will view this? She will continue to train and we will keep her skill sets active.
Is it better to train and wait or play with weak setting?
Typically by spring there are always “things” happening and some spots open up.
Kind Regards

Good question for which I don't know if there is a correct answer. You bring up a point that needs to be mentioned again - You are paying $3000.00 for your daughter to play club volleyball; you have the responsibility to do your best to ensure that this money is spent well.

By your e-mail, it reads as the club's upper age group is a combination age group with 17-18's together; I know that some USA Volleyball Regions tend to have the 18's level encompass the Juniors, while other regions have every age group imaginable.

Since your daughter is a Junior, this is the prime time for college coaches to make their evaluations. I know everyone has heard of such and such a player committing from the Junior age group and there seems to be the resultant herd panic, but the mass majority of schools are still trying to determine exactly who will get the scholarship offers come the spring.

To this end, you would want to make sure she is with a team that has the talent to compete at tournaments in the upper brackets. Parents and PSA's need to remember that when tournaments are not held in the huge catch all convention centers with 100 courts, college coaches need to go find the courts/gyms where the different pools are located. Because of this, we prioritize our day; I need to see player A at 9 a.m. here, then by 12 noon I need to be at this other gym to see player B and the first wave ends at 2 p.m., and if I have time, I will try to go see player C. If player C is in a pool that is not too strong, in addition to being the last PSA on the list, then there is the reality that player C will not be seen by me.

Those hand held tournament information PDA's are great, but they can't jet us around a city to the other gyms - traffic, fast matches, wrong directions and lunch seem to always the better of the recruiting day.

Also, the better the competition, the better a player will become over the course of a club season - playing teams below your ability level will not make you better.

With your daughter being moved to the third team of the club, I would take the chance to wait for a first or second unit to open up a spot with another club. The club season is long and since she is just a Junior, there is more time than you think. Playing with a poor setter, is not going to help matters either.

Don't be too worried about the reaction of college coaches, there is nothing sinister about her wishing to wait for a better spot - College coaches will see that a Junior getting bumped down teams is the result of so many Seniors taking the upper slots.

It is important to trust that your daughter's ability will be matched up with a college that fits her volleyball gifts and hopefully her academic interests.