May 28, 2010

Volleyball Recruiting Pressure!!!!


I thoroughly enjoy reading all the great questions and answers on your site. My daughter is in the Class of 2011, a strong and physical 5'10 middle blocker on a club team that has qualified in Open the last 4 years as well as a state champion high school team.

She missed her sophomore season due to a knee surgery, thus missing out on a lot of recruiting attention.

We are coming to the realization that if she is to stay at middle(which she loves and is her best position) in college, it will not be in D1, which she is sad about it(they all dream about it!) but understands and is realistic.

She is getting recruiting attention from mostly D2 schools scattered around the country.

She has a good GPA and ACT scores and wants to be at a school that is known for it's academics but I worry that if she goes to a good academic school with a less than good volleyball program and/or conference she will not be satisfied either after playing at the level she's played at.

She is also feeling that she is lagging behind in the recruiting game and is feeling pressure to be ready to make a decision before she is ready. I guess you could substitute me (mom) in that sentence, too.

If you are not wanting to play college sports you have so much more time and flexibility in making a choice.

She also kind of falls into that group of players you have written about earlier that have been doing this for so long and so hard that they want their college experience to be more well-rounded than their high school years have been, but still love the game and all the great things that come with it:camaraderie, competition, teamwork, accomplishment, friendships, etc.

I have come to the conclusion that the level at which you play may not be as important as how good a fit the school is academically, athletically, socially, and location-wise since it is a big commitment and I think your college years are very formative and can be life changing in many ways.

It is difficult as parents, to not want to direct their choices based on our life experience!

After rambling on, here are my questions:
1. It does seem like players are committing sooner and sooner. Do you see many D2, 3, NAIA players that miss out on a spot because they just needed more time? Is it reasonable that she could keep looking into the fall when she could actually see the schools in session?
2. How much stock do coaches put into whether or not a player has had a surgery?
3. How does a player go about asking about A) the level of in season and off season commitment required by the program and B) the emphasis of the school and coaching staff on academics without sounding like you don't want to work hard for the program?
4. How does a parent help them sort through all of this without pushing them to make a decision based on what we think is best for her?
Sorry to throw that all at you! I'm more confused than she is as to this whole process! Thank you for your time,
Anxious Mom

OK VolleyFolks, before you start reading my reply, I suggest you go get something eat, make yourself comfortable, schedule in a restroom break and notify your family you will be busy for the next hour because I have many questions to answer.

Anxious Mom slammed me with many opportunities to help many other VolleyFolks which are facing similar situations and I wanted to provide some feedback beyond just the four questions listed. To this end, I will answer the four questions, then go back to the start of the e-mail and comment on each sections (which I broke out to follow better).


1. Players are committing sooner and this is an issue in all NCAA sports, just not volleyball. I can see how some players may lose out on a DI opportunity, and need to pursue other classifications because they needed more time, but my instinct tells me this is not a large number of PSA's. I say this because there are over 300 NCAA Division I schools, and most of them don't recruit along the hyper early time frames of the power conference schools. Also, any number of late scholarships open up because of the trials and tribulations of the current college volleyball season. Players selecting another classification than NCAA DI tend to be because of talent, geographic location and academic preferences. I most definitely believe that she should wait until the fall to see schools in session - The summer is like Diet Coke - Not quite the real thing. Again, there will be plenty of opportunities for scholarships in all divisions come the senior year of a PSA.

2. I think surgery concerns are most prevalent when the surgery occurs in the Senior year. ACL surgeries are very common in all sports today, and the surgery itself has an extremely high rate of success. The biggest concern coaches have is did the athlete focus upon rehab. The actual surgery is not a big deal (fix the injury) but it is the rehab which demands huge amounts of time and energy. Since your daughter had the injury as a sophomore, she should be far past any lingering issues, provided she did her rehab. Coaches can 'see' if a PSA is physically struggling (looks like a player is hesitant, or not quite explosive, etc.), but if this is not apparent, then coaches will not concern themselves.

3. All VolleyPSA's should be asking the two questions you posed in your third question; do not hesitate to ask - you must ask. Just flat out ask the question - "Tell me about the typical schedule for volleyball players in season and out of season", or "I am curious about what the volleyball players put into the program on a daily basis in the fall". Find out exactly what is mandated. Some programs, like mine, will time commit on the lighter side to keep players from burning out during the season and try to keep the team fresh for the end of the season push, while other programs will just go full tilt from the first day to the last day with the expectation that the players need to grind it out. In terms of Academics, again, just ask the question. For instance, if a team has never qualified for an Academic All American Team award or is just putting one or two players on the Academic All Conference team, than this should be a concern - The program is either recruiting players who are not academically oriented, or the program does not support academic excellence. VolleyPSA's must remember that the vast majority of coaches are not getting raises and job security because of academic achievement, it is for winning volleyball matches.

4. You have to provide direction and leadership for your child. I get concerned when I see two types of parents, 1) the parent who just goes along with the process without being an active participant, 2) the parent who dominates and dictates the decision making of their daughter. It can be a fine line, but we must recognize that a parent has many more years of life experience than their child. This margin is magnified when we consider that many of these PSA's
are sophomores or juniors in high school. I know kids are advanced these days because the world is spinning faster, but they are still just 16 or 17 years old! The parent must be the critical eye in the process, the parent must ask those questions which experience has provided them the background to ask, the parent must look past the facility or the coach's personality or the big name of the school, to evaluate the exact situation of the program/school to get a feel if this would be something good for their daughter. In the end, the choice is and should be the PSA's, but parents must provide feedback and opinions, without dominating. Let your daughter know that the choice is hers and you will behind her 100%, but here is what you have observed.

With those four questions completed, I wanted to make some per paragraph observations on the email which Anxious Mom had sent. I will number my responses to match the broken out sections:

1. If your daughter is a state champion and qualifying in Open for four years, then she is either good or playing on good teams, or a combination of both. I would venture to say she has talent (or maybe she is just really good at being in the right place at the right time!!).

2. Missing the sophomore season in club is tough, but not as bad as having a knee injury as a junior or senior. Junior year, is still the most critical because this is when coaches make final evaluations of talent and extend scholarship offers. Since these offers are verbal, a knee injury could quickly change the 'language' of the offer, even if the PSA has already verbal'ed to the program/coach. Now, having the injury late in the 16's club season would be tough because most ACL's are a one year rehab back to normal physical and mental ability. What she missed was the initial evaluations of college coaches, but not the final or most important evaluations. VolleyPSA's must, must, must remember that not all programs are like Texas or Penn State; we don't scholarship our entire recruiting class 5 years out.

3. There are plenty of 5'10 MB's in Division I. Of course, players are getting taller and taller in the MB position and she may not play for Ohio State as a 5'10 MB, but there are many other DI schools which will still take talent over height (of course, talent and jumping ability go hand in hand in DI). Don't surrender the DI goal if that is what she truly wants, because the senior year will bring scholarship opportunities from DI schools.

4. NCAA Division II schools can be a great choice for PSA's. Having coached in D2, I found that players and coaches had a better balance of volleyball/school/life and that the level of play was still very exciting and challenging. I caution any family to not get caught up in the DI golden ticket - Far too many DI's are poorly funded, have bad facilities and for the sport of volleyball are just token DI's; they really don't care about the sport and it is just a female number to balance the equity equation.

5. So, you want your daughter to have her cake and eat it too? That is a good thing and I would want the same thing - Great academics and great volleyball. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Some schools will just not have the academic ranking that a PSA wants, while other great academic schools are not interested in putting forth elite level athletic teams.

6. Absolutely do not make a decision before being ready, this is the recipe for being unhappy. If you are lagging behind, then work hard to get ahead by being proactive or working with a recruiting company. The opportunities are out there, but you have to go get them. With the Internet, video hosting sites and more than enough recruiting companies, there is no excuse for not attempting to gain maximum exposure.

7. Yes, life is easier as a non-athlete, but is it as fun? I would rather have the pressures/demands/challenges of volleyball than just going to school as a student. For one, my folks would have made me get a job!!!

8. It is funny how PSA's will go off to college and have more a life than what they had in high school. I see it all the time and we have the NCAA time limit rules to thank for that, and I do thank them because it allows me to have a life outside of my job! Once again, this is part of the information discovery process about any potential schools and programs - Find out how they operate so you know what will be demanded of your daughter when in college.

9. You have made a wise observation. I have seen way too many transfers occur in college simply because the players picked a school for volleyball and not for all the other things. Volleyball is important, as this is your passion, but it should be only one part of the equation for collegiate success. It has to be the total package and fortunately there are 'total packages' within any classification. Just find the total package and your daughter will be happy, but she must know what total package she wants. Sounds deep, but she has to know what will make her fulfilled and challenged, then make the choice based upon her parameters.

10. I don't think you should 'direct their choices' but you must express your observations just because you do have more life experience. That is like having 1st year medical student perform the operation when you are the senior doctor just watching from behind the glass - You need to be there with that person.

From your last sentence of the e-mail, do not allow the process to spin to fast, this just leads to what you are feeling. There is still more time than you think and there are still more opportunities as schools/programs which fit what your daughter wants, than you think.

Take the time to take it all in, to make solid, educated decisions and to go at the speed which is most comfortable for your daughter.

Hope I was able to help.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please stay positive or at the minimum present constructive criticism - Negative comments or attacks upon other reader's opinions will not be posted.