February 14, 2011

President's Day Tourneys and Showcases


We are fortunate enough to have a daughter that committed verbally last summer. However, we have many friends (parents/players) heading to the Vegas Showcase. As you can imagine, the nerves are starting to take hold for some…Can you offer any insight that may help them? I would imagine if Sophomore's were offered on the spot at JO's that many Junior's will be offered on the spot in Vegas---especially since they can email the players instantaneously.

We continue to read and learn from your site and look forward to your book! S.L.

Thank you for your suggestion about offering some direction for VolleyFamilies and the President's Day weekend tournaments/showcases. Las Vegas is one of the traditional big President's Day tournaments, but other Holiday Weekend tournaments, such as Omaha, have grown in stature and many have corresponding "showcases".

Within the college coaching circles, the Las Vegas tournament had always been the supermarket of 18's recruiting when College Volleyball coaches were trying to finish their incoming freshman recruiting needs. This may have been the result of the slower club tourney season of year's past when Las Vegas was the first 'big' tournament of the year, the initial implementation of a NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Recruiting Calendar which opened up the recruiting segment on President's Day weekend, and probably most important, the Southern California area produces such large quantities of quality PSA's and by the 18's year, they were more open to leaving the region to play College Volleyball.

With the accelerated recruiting time lines, the 17's year has been included in with the 18's for the feeling of recruiting anxiety; both on the part of the college coaches and the VolleyFamilies. This is one of the first College Volleyball recruiting seasons where I have witnessed college coaches being very aggressive in their interaction with 17's Club Volleyball coaches extremely early in the Club Volleyball season. At a recent tournament, it was routine to see the second 17's team coach of a recognizable club just getting inundated with 'chats' with college coaches following up on available players.

For all intent and purposes, 17's and 18's pressurized recruiting has become the same beast. The College Volleyball coaches who have a scholarship open or open up for the next season are scrambling to fill the spot, and this same mentality can be applied to those programs which feel that talented 17's PSA's are rapidly disappearing. This pressure or recruiting anxiety is easily felt by the VolleyFamilies and can make for an uncomfortable round of President's Day tournaments.

I am still undecided about the newer trend of 'Showcases' which are becoming more and more available at major club tournaments (and this includes the High Performance Team tryouts at USA Volleyball Junior National Qualifier tournaments). In one sense, I see the logic for a PSA to display their physical skills to interested College Volleyball coaches within a small, defined time frame. But, on the other hand, I can't really see the rationale of paying money and expending energy the night before embarking on an event which many VolleyFolk consider a showcase tournament. Maybe a way to view this situation from a PSA's perspective, is to decide is the money spent and the time expended worth the chance that a College Coach may see you at this showcase who would not have necessarily seen you during the course of the tournament?

As S.L. noted, college coaches are very aggressive now about throwing out scholarship offers early and sometimes very early. The mentality of Polo Logo crowd (college coaches) has almost become Fire and Forget. This military term references shooting a rocket and hoping it hits the target, but not guiding or managing it after firing. When College Volleyball coaches are offering scholarships at tournaments, after seeing a PSA in a couple of matches, this is very much a Fire and Forget philosophy especially with the 17 and younger age group. And VolleyFolk wonder why there are so many transfer situations and why the One and Done is becoming more common.

Also interesting is how smart phones have almost made texting obsolete by enabling emails to be sent and received within the time frames of texts. The NCAA rules clearly state that texting PSA's is never allowed until the PSA signs the National Letter of Intent. While the use of emailing via smart phones is legal, something is not right about seeing College Volleyball coaches interacting instantly with non-signed players, especially during club tournaments.

As to how a VolleyFamily can manage the Showcase or President's Day tournaments, it would depend upon the age of the PSA. As an 18's, the VolleyFamily needs to be aware of the reality that the number of available NCAA Division I (and for that matter but to a lesser degree, Division II) scholarships is limited and decreasing. This does not mean that you should accept a scholarship offer made before, during or after this weekend's tournament without first going to see the campus.

Per the NCAA rules, VolleyParents are allowed to be in contact with College Volleyball coaches during the tournament, but the PSA cannot interact with a college coach until the conclusion of the entire tournament (not just that day's matches). This allows the parents to engage in initial talks and to filter possible College Volleyball programs. This is important because post-tournament, the PSA will have the opportunity to sit down and talk with the College Volleyball coach but because of various travel schedules, you may not have 5 hours to hold meetings. Parents, by your own filtering and in conjunction with your club director/recruiting coordinator, determine what program(s) you would wish to meet with post event.

During this meeting, or via emails or by telephone later, please be prepared to ask specific questions about this school - Academic programs, facilities, philosophy of the coach, conference, etc. Be direct in asking about the opportunity to go visit the school. Do not even consider committing to any program without first getting on campus to see everything in person. In addition, have a prepared fact sheet available to hand or send to the College Volleyball coach which lists all your contact information, high school information, club information, gpa, ACT/SAT scores and NCAA ID number.

The focus for an 18's PSA at these President's Day tournaments/showcases, and beyond, is to quickly do an initial evaluation of a school/program, and if both sides are interested, to schedule an Official Visit.

For the 17's VolleyFamilies, I strongly caution you not get caught up in the recruiting stress of the President's Day tournament/showcase. Yes this is a big tournament, yes there will be an abundance of College Volleyball coaching wandering around looking intently into their smart phones (playing Angry Birds), yes there will be lots of recruiting gossip and probably an offer or two or fifteen made to PSA's, but check your daughter's birth certificate.....she is only 17. There is still a bunch of time left in the process, and a scholarship is not going to vanish this weekend which could have been her's on Tuesday.

The best thing a VolleyFamily can do this weekend is to keep things balanced, so the PSA can focus on having a great tournament. Playing well attracts College Volleyball coaches, plain and simple. Use this tournament to enlarge the number of potential opportunities, use this tournament to showcase skills in front of College Volleyball programs which may not normally see you play. There are a large number of College Volleyball programs for which the Las Vegas or Omaha tournament is a big recruiting trip and maybe the big recruiting trip to see new PSA's.

Please remember the NCAA rules which do not allow contact between College Volleyball coaches and VolleyFamilies (when you see college coaches engaged in long conversations with parents, these are the parents of players who have already signed their NLI's) - Saying a quick hello to a college coach you know is active in the recruitment of your daughter is OK, but just a hello; this also applies to the PSA.

I caution the 17's VolleyFamilies to not adopt the mentality of the 18's VolleyFamilies because they are not the same, and should not be the same. Just focus on the tournament and supporting your daughter in her play. If you get word via the club director or club coach, that such and such a university has expressed interest in your PSA, then just take it as a compliment and leave it at that. The days after the tournament are when to manage this interest, not during the tournament. Even if you get told that State University is going to offer your PSA, don't focus upon that, stay within the moment of the tournament.

The days following the tournament is when follow-up can occur for what you may have been told during the tournament. This is the time frame to touch base with college coaches via email or by calling them. Just slow down and remember the sequence of the recruiting process - there is interest by a College Volleyball program, interact to determine the interest, the PSA should call to ask some questions, if all proceeds comfortably, then consider an Unofficial Visit to see everything first hand. You can only do the first item of the recruiting process at a club tournament and this is done by the PSA playing Volleyball. All the other areas are accomplished after the the tournament and not in personal contact, until you to visit a campus.

As a 17's VolleyFamily please remember that there is still plenty of time, that the sequence of the process is still the same because there are NCAA rules which govern contact for your age, and that post tournament is the time to engage in the recruiting sequence. I strongly encourage you to just enjoy the actual tournament and to not buy into the artificial anxiety which College Volleyball coaches use to their advantage in the recruiting process.

For both age groups, don't put the cart ahead of the horse. PSA's must stay focused on playing Volleyball to the best of their abilities; now is the time to shine. Managing the recruiting process is really the easy part, believe it or not. The hard part for the PSA is passing that wicked jump float, or blocking that awesome left side hitter. Focus on the hard part, because the easy part you can manage.....easily.

As for the book, I am compiling it now. My focus is to tighten up my writing, along with providing updates to those posts which merited them because of NCAA rule changes or newer trends within recruiting. I hope to have it available by early spring.....I hope (my day job keeps getting in the way!).

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