March 14, 2011

College Volleyball Camps and Recruiting

Dear Coach,

My daughter (2012) has entered an interesting phase of her club season. At least 3 colleges that we have emailed to have invited her to their summer camps. One of them was pretty specific why she should come and it was for recruiting.

I am of the opinion that for us, things will come more clear where she stands with several schools after qualifier season (April) and I do not plan to sign her up for any camp until May. She has gone to volleyball camps for many summers to become a better volleyball player. Now it feels like she has to go to these camps if she is really interested in the school. That is fine if she has her heart on a particular school, but in this case she is not leaning toward any particular school. This could become a pretty expensive proposition!

Would it be appropriate to contact a school first and see where she stands before committing to a camp? Do you have any other advise to keep interest without having to commit to a summer camp?

Thanks! RLH

College Volleyball coaches have become very sneaky using 'recruiting interest' to drive up camp numbers. If college coaches have really evaluated your daughter, then they don't need her to come to camp. It is our job to know if a PSA has the ability to compete at the college level, and with emails, receiving calls and contacting other sources, we know if a PSA is a good kid or not.

Attending a College Volleyball camp is a poor way to do an unofficial visit, as it is not reality for that program or campus. It is summer so a regular academic term is not in session, the coaching staff and current players are in camp mode which is much different than the Collegiate Volleyball mode of the spring season, the PSA has to pay more than just going on an unofficial visit because you now have the camp fee, head coaches very seldom coach campers but rather demo and float around smiling, you won't see the real side of coaches and college players because this is camp business not College Volleyball.

It is standard practice now for college programs to invite their recruiting databases to camp as to bump up the profit. It is allowable per NCAA rules to send out camp information to freshman and sophomores, in addition to upperclassmen, and many programs put a little sugar on top by somehow tying it in with recruiting. Without naming colleges, I have been a bit disappointed in how some programs will blatantly use the camp avenue to break NCAA recruiting rules, along with using the recruiting angle to generate additional campers.

I would only enroll your daughter in a camp she wants to go to, if she wants to go to any camp at all during the summer. You would be better served to go on unofficial visits this late spring season and if nothing pops for an acceptable scholarship, then I would just keep positive and wait until the next club season.

Even though this advice may be unnerving and you may feel summer camps can create opportunities, the 2012 year will bring a bunch of scholarship availability. As I wrote about in Las Vegas, bunches of DI's were recruiting hard for the current senior class. Again, college coaches know if your PSA has the ability and attending a camp is not the avenue to an offer in NCAA Division I Volleyball.

Before some of my readers get upset, I do realize that there are situations where camp attendance has resulted in a current/future scholarship offer because the PSA made a great impression. But, this is the great exception in today's recruiting climate; in year's past, maybe this was more common but now with the sheer volume of Junior Volleyball tournaments, recruiting services, recruiting budgets and the use of the Internet for contact and video, College Volleyball camps as a recruiting venue has greatly diminished.

If a school is not inviting her on an unofficial visit, but just inviting her to camp, then this makes it rather clear doesn't it? For those schools which have been interactive in the recruiting process, I suggest letting them know you have made other plans for the summer, when they inquire about camp attendance. If they stop communicating after such an email, then you should be lucky you did not waste time and money with this program. A program which is sincerely interested in your PSA will continue to recruit, camp attendance or not.

My bigger concern would be invitations for unofficial visits.

Skip these camps, focus on Club Volleyball which now runs into the summer. At her age, a college camp is generally not going to make her better. It would be a wiser choice to recharge the body in the one month of summer vacation before high school starts again!

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