October 22, 2009

Stuck in Ojai Again!

My 2 oldest daughters are involved in club (and school) volleyball. One is a Junior in HS, the other in 8th grade. We are struggling a bit with the quality of VB Clubs in our area. The closest club to have qualified for Jr Nationals is a 2 hour drive away which makes it an unlikely choice for the upcoming season. In addition, we live in a rural area of Central California so the pool of available players is relatively small. We do play in the SCVA region of USA volleyball, but not in the top divisions. We will most likely be at the Las Vegas tournament and the SCVA Qualifier this year in addition to the region tournaments. What advice do you have for being seen by College Coaches? We are working on the skills tape and should have it done by the end of the month. We have been communicating with a handful of coaches by email as well, just not my daughter's top choice schools who have not responded to our letters and emails.

Thanks for your help - Kirsten

The situation which Kirsten described has to be somewhat common; trying to gain recruiting exposure when the family is located in an area which does not lend itself to such ready recognition by college coaches. Not everyone can live in the suburbs having quality clubs within a easy driving difference.

My first suggestion would be to review the Recruiting Plan I have on the website - I think you can find a link to the Recruiting Plan on the lower left side bar of the opening page. When I broke down the year by year suggestions, it was with an eye towards the player who does not have the college coaches knocking down their door.

Also, I suggest you view club volleyball in another light; skill development. As important as recruiting exposure is with a club volleyball program, one should also remember that club volleyball is an avenue to greatly (hopefully) improve one's playing abilities versus just competing in high school volleyball. So, even though a player's club may not be in a Power League or going off to compete in the Open division of five National Qualifiers, the club can provide very important skill improvement benefits. It is this skill improvement which will yield great benefits for a player's collegiate experience, in addition to presenting a quality image during evaluation by college coaches.

Below are some quick hit suggestions:

1. Make sure you have a video link to your skills tape from now on when contacting coaches (via e-mail); a picture is worth a thousand words. If you mail out a letter, include a DVD - all coaches will look at a DVD. More and more, we are receiving Youtube attached videos, which work just fine with an e-mail.

2. Keep shooting out e-mails to your daughter's top schools, with the video link; recruiting needs change over the course of a season. Many times a program will save a scholarship until after the season is over or it is not until the completion of the season that a coach might understand exactly what they need for next fall.

3. Contact schools out of your region which may fit your daughter's academic and athletic desires - keep an open mind to traveling out side of the comfort zone to open up possibilities. One of the critiques of California players is they are not open (on average) to exploring volleyball in the middle of the USA; on average, the California players tend to stay on the west coast, with a few jumping to the east coast.

4. Don't stress to hard - the big spring is coming up; junior year of Club volleyball. If you are in the SCVA and will be at Las Vegas, there will be many, many programs (from everywhere) looking for players - You just need to keep getting out information about your daughter so these programs will (hopefully) make the effort to see her live.

I encourage players/families to understand that college coaches work very hard to find talent. It does not matter if a player is from Super Duper City Club or Tumbleweed Plains Club - We will find the talented players.

Our jobs have been made so much easier by the advent of video camcorders and the ability to display video via the internet. Simply by sending out e-mails with a video link, families can be assured that their daughter is getting a look (sometimes a very brief look) by college coaches. The video is just the 'bait' or invite to have a college coach come watch the player in person.

Since your daughter does play in the SCVA region, even if not the elite division, she is in a location to be seen by college coaches, especially if you are able to create interest via the e-mails. There are families in worse positions because their USAVolleyball region is not well attended by recruiters.

You cannot make too much of an effort to advertise yourself. My only caution is to make this effort at the appropriate level. If you are e-mailing the top 20 teams constantly, but your talent level is for teams 125 to 175, then this is a wasted effort by you. Try to get a honest evaluation of your daughter's college ability level from folks which have experience with Division I volleyball as a player or coach.

I get contacted by high school coaches who are saying their player is at the Division I level, but the video is not even close to a Division I skill level. Too many times, the high school coach did not play high level volleyball, has not coached club or even been to a Division I volleyball match.

Experience has shown me that the talent level of the player matches the ranking of the college program. As long as the family is targeting the appropriate level of college team, then they will have positive feedback from their recruiting exposure efforts.

Families who do not live in the bigger suburban cities and don't have nationally recognized clubs, may need to promote themselves to a greater degree, but talent is beyond location.

Good luck!

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