February 18, 2010

Volleyball Question and Answer Speed Round!

I have been working too hard in my day job and have fallen behind with Questions sent in by VolleyFolk. To get caught up, I am getting through them quick attack style below!

Hi Coach,

I really appreciate your website. You have wonderful wisdom and equally great writing skills.

My daughter is a 2011 Grad. She is 5'9" and played outside hitter this past fall as a junior in high school, and libero on her 17's club. She is on a very good club team, and received a medal at the Junior Olympics last year in the American division. She has sent an interest e-mail and player profile to several Division 1 schools with a video link of highlights on YouTube, but has not received much response so far. A couple of schools have expressed interest and say they have a scholarship position available. A couple have said they are interested, but do not have a scholarship position available this year, and asked if she would be interested in a 'walk-on' position. One school said that she could compete with 2-3 other players as freshmen to get one scholarship for the sophomore year.

My question is what percentage of Division 1 schools offer scholarships for the libero position? Also if she gets an offer from one school, do you think it would be wise to accept it right away, or continue to pursue other schools who have expressed some interest?

Best regards, rr

I will accept your nice compliment about my writing skills (only way I made decent grades in my history classes in college), but the jury is still out on the wisdom reference!

When the Libero position was announced, my impression was that not many Division I schools jumped on board with providing a scholarship. The thought process was, and I also was under this belief, that you would take your best passing outside hitter who was not playing and make them the Libero. As the position developed and more club players started specializing being the Libero and less all around Outside hitters were evident (too many current OH's are proficient back row and get lit up in college passing and defense when they arrive as freshman) , it resulted in more and more colleges providing a scholarship for the position.

Currently, I would be surprised to hear of any Division I program not putting a Libero on scholarship. The exceptions might be public universities which are located in volleyball strong regions (Southern California, Texas, Illinois), which means tuition would be manageable as a walk-on player.

The challenge for Liberos is that only one scholarship is awarded for this position per team and in theory, is only awarded every four years. The other volleyball positions are at least 2 deep scholarship'ed (setters) and some can go 6 deep (outsides). Competition is tough to get a scholarship and mandates that many talented Liberos must walk on at schools to have a chance to be on a college volleyball team.

If your daughter receives a scholarship offer from a school which academically fits her needs, she is comfortable with the location, and she likes the make up of the volleyball program, then I would suggest she accept the offer. Again, because of the limited number of scholarships available for this position, good is good enough.

Continue to contact and stay in contact with schools and do not limit yourself to just Division I programs. As I have written, Division II and III can be great choices for academic and athletic success, along with Junior Colleges. Because of my experience coaching in many of the possible 'categories' of college volleyball, I tend to cringe when I hear of recruits just being so focused on the Golden Ticket of being a Division I volleyball player.

Hi Coach...

Just wondering if you could share any advice for someone who is hoping to walk on to a division program, after having spent time on a club team at the same school. The athlete in question is in her 4th semester at a Division I school, and has been playing volleyball on the school's club team. She is very interested in being considered for a walk on position with the division team. Any thoughts?

Thanks, Loren

I think it is great when current college students explore representing their school in athletics. This is Old School in its process - Student loves a sport, wants to go to the next level of ability and wants to wear the school uniform in competition. That is the Hollywood version, while the reality is much tougher.

1. Contact the head coach at the school and let them know you are a current student who would like to join the program as a walk-on. At this point, the coach can do one of three things; 1) Invite the player to attend a tryout or workout with the staff/current players (bunch of paperwork to complete first before you can even tryout); 2) Watch the player in a campus recreation league or match to evaluate ability; 3) Excuse themselves, leave the building and hope you go away.

2. If the coach feels a player has the ability to positively impact the program and the current roster is not too large, then a walk-on position could be offered. Many coaches, in an effort to manage team chemistry, may create an extended tryout situation to encompass the spring season or delay joining the program until after the fall regular season.

3. The player must register with the NCAA Clearinghouse (do an Internet search). This involves paying a fee, sending in the final high school transcript, the ACT/SAT test scores and completing the NCAA Amateurism questionnaire. For any NCAA athlete to be eligible (save for non-Qualifier Junior College Transfers) they must be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse and Amateurism Center.

3. To be eligible, under NCAA Minimum Progress rules, every college player (scholarship or walk-on) must satisfy a certain percentage of degree attainment which corresponds to their year in school. This can sometimes trip up current college student walk on candidates who might have suffered a tough semester or taken classes which do not directly apply to a major.

4. Be persistent and do the leg work - Do not expect this to be a priority for the college coach and do not expect them to walk through all the necessary paperwork. If this is important to a student and potential walk on, then they must do the work.

5. Immediately understand that NCAA Division I volleyball is a complete other planet from college club volleyball. Conditioning, physicality, intensity, pressure, craziness (and this is just from the team manager!) is light years beyond what ever the recreation sports do on any campus.

Again, it is nice when such situations work out for current students, but it is not common and can be a tough transition for those who are not mentally and physically prepared.

Good afternoon, my son is trying to find a list of Colleges that offer Mens Volleyball either Div II or Div III level. We live in Canada and don't really understand the differences between Div II, Div III & Jr Varsity??

How do we find a list of Colleges so we can see if he would qualify for the school and their volleyball program? He graduated high school in 2009 and has taken a year off and is ready to return to school. He has played 5 years of volleyball with school and club teams.

Thanks, Donna

Before I get into your question, I liked the whales in the Opening Ceremony but the grunge dancing fiddlers scared me!

Go to this page, http://www.ncaa.org/wps/portal/ncaahome?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/ncaa/ncaa/sports+and+championship/volleyball/mens to get information about NCAA men's volleyball and the colleges which sponsor the different levels.

Since Men's Volleyball only supports a fraction of the NCAA teams which Women's Volleyball does, we find that many times DII schools (Division II athletic departments) will 'move up' and compete in Division I volleyball. Because of this it can be tough at times to clarify DI versus DII in Men's Volleyball.

As a general rule, DIII is non athletic based scholarships, while DI/DII offer athletic based scholarships (amount available differ by school, conference and division).

Jr. Varsity is just the second group of athletes on a college team; maybe the players who are already at the school and want to participate, and per school rules have to be allowed the opportunity to play/participate, so they are on a Jr. Varsity team. Other names for Jr. Varsity are B team, Practice Squad, etc.

Men's Volleyball is extremely competitive for scholarships and roster positions. NCAA Division I Men's Volleyball caps volleyball scholarships at 4, in an equivalency sport arrangement. This means those 4 scholarships can be spit among any number of players, but a 12 way split of 4 scholarships is not much (assuming we are in an egalitarian volleyball society) - Remember, each school determines how many of the 4 scholarship maximum they will fund.

Because of NCAA Gender Equity (which wrongly, let me say that again, wrongly accuses women's athletics of reducing opportunities for male Olympic sports - The blame goes to football and basketball), athletic departments are loath to support large rosters in Men's Volleyball because student athlete participation numbers are a central component of the Equity equation (the flip side is the AD's love large Women's Volleyball squads!). So, there may only be 12 roster positions with a NCAA Men's Volleyball team.

Right now, my belief is that there are many more quality players than there are roster positions and for sure, scholarship availability! We are also finding that in the men's game, the height of the players is dramatically increasing - middles approaching 7 feet tall and oh's who are 6'9" are common!

Because of all these challenges, especially with your international status (can make it tough on admission and tuition costs), be exhaustive in your exploration of options. Don't get locked into a certain region or division of NCAA participation. Contact everyone, immediately provide a video tape via YouTube or web page link, and don't become discouraged if nothing pops up immediately.

Hey coach...

Another question for you. I am starting up my own volleyball club this coming summer. The club is going to provide a gamut of volleyball services, including, but not limited to junior development. I want to be able to give junior athletes what they need as far as recruiting. Do you think it is vital for a club to establish connections with colleges? Or is it more important that the club educate players and parents on the recruiting process, thereby allowing them to own the process?

Thanks, Loren

Congratulations, you are braver than me!!! It can be a fine line to tread with club volleyball and the college recruiting world. Some clubs expressly try to down play the whole college scholarship opportunity by emphasizing that the junior club is focused on volleyball and social development.

Junior Clubs which do things the best, in my opinion, are the ones which take a two pronged approach to college volleyball recruiting. First of all, they have a dedicated person whose sole job is to foster relationships with college volleyball coaches/programs and provide detailed information about their club's PSA's. This means that this club recruiting coordinator or director has all the contact information readily available for each player in their club, already has a feel for the college wishes/desires of their PSA's (stay local, big school, power conference, etc), immediately responds to e-mail/phone calls from college coaches and provides the same level of service to college coaches no matter if they are from Giant State U or No Name College (just outside of Caribou, Maine).

The second interaction needs to be from the PSA's themselves. They must communicate with the college coaches. It does not need to be sunshine and 5 page e-mails, but rather responding to emails, answering questions, asking questions, expressing their parameters for a future college. Sometimes the best thing to tell a coach is you are not interested in their school - We do this for a living and you won't hurt our feelings. I would rather know you are not considering my fine institution, so I can allocate my efforts towards those PSA's which are looking at us. Instruction and direction for this process must come from the Club itself. Clubs cannot assume that parents are managing this process because they could be just as intimidated and overwhelmed as their daughter. Interaction, updating and guidance from the club for the player/family is critical.

Good luck and may you manage Pandora's Box well!

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