March 11, 2011

Timing Pressure for Volleyball Unofficial Visits

Hi Coach:

Thank you for a wonderful blog and all the help it provides parents and athletes on college volleyball. It is my premier source of information on the subject.

My daughter is a junior and after the Las Vegas tournament a few coaches (who seem genuinely willing to make offers) have invited her to visit. In mid January, after her first tournament this season, we received a written scholarship offer with an invitation to visit. I understand you like to make your offers in person. Is it the customary practice to invite for a visit and then make the offer, or to make the offer and then invite to visit? Since such visits are not cheap, I just want to know if the method is an indicator of the level of commitment.

Also, in talking with one of the coaches it looked like my plan of taking my daughter for visits during her spring break (which is a bit late this year) was too late for his schedule. I immediately went to the recruiting encyclopedia (your blog), and learned that by May most D1 scholarships have been committed. That means that our last big tournament, the Big South, is on the late side for juniors to be recruited. Any information on the typical D1 spring recruiting time line is appreciated. V.J.

Thanks for the compliments on the site - Provide me a bit more information about your daughter, so I can give you some specific feedback per your situation; position, height, jump, club, etc.

Thanks for the quick reply. 'A' is a 6’2” MB and plays for an elite level club team, 17's. She is only in her second year of playing volleyball, but is very talented and a natural jumper. Her standing jump is 9’ 11” and her approach is 10’ 2”. She also was selected to play on one of the various Youth National Teams and played in an international tournament. V.J.

After getting your daughter's information, I would encourage you to be the one who dictates the timing of the visits. You may have that program or two which says your timing does not work for them, but this is their loss. Take it as a gift that you are able to dictate the timing because not every VolleyFamily can. Because of your daughter's physical skills, her obvious upside potential and her envious Volleyball resume attained in such a short span of time, you can establish the tempo of the recruiting, not be subject to it.

It makes perfect sense for you to wait until Spring Break to go see college campuses. Per the information you provided to me, along with her grad year, she will have many options for her future. I would not be pulled into a college coach trying to pressure you into an early visit/commit.

While many VolleyFolks may disagree with me, there is little statistical difference in the top programs. Penn State holds a distinction right now with their historic run of NCAA Championships, but a few years ago USC was winning a couple in a row, then it was Washington right there and Nebraska. Even when you step outside of those handful of programs which have won recent NCAA Championships, the top teams are all on the same plane (geometrically speaking, not Boeing 747)

The top programs are either large public or private schools, each reflect outstanding academic rankings, enjoy superior funding and facilities, are members of nationally recognized conferences and tend to have a long history of Volleyball success. If one school tells you that your timing does not work for them, then you will have another school with comparable attributes who says your timing is perfect for them. I know I am glossing over some details, especially geography or unique academic majors, but don't be rushed because one elite school is pressing; there are a number of elite schools.

Yes, a number of scholarships will be committed by June 1, but a number of scholarships will still be available. All of us fall victim to the pressure of early commitments, even college coaches. I will catch myself thinking that all the good kids are committing and I need to start pushing for visits and commitments, even though I may not be completely comfortable in my evaluation information. It is even worse for VolleyFamilies, because of the past and future financial implications.

As for extending scholarship offers, each coach does it their own way. Some may well provide an offer just to let you know how series they are about your daughter and to ensure you that a visit is not a token visit. Others may want to wait to provide a scholarship offer after having your daughter on campus in a effort to get to know her personality a bit better. I doubt college coaches would be inviting your daughter to visit unless they anticipated providing a scholarship offer just because this time of year is busy and we don't have time to play tour guide.

I do like to offer my scholarships in person, but I will also let the parents know that I intend to extend a scholarship offer, just as a means of reassurance as they are purchasing expensive airline tickets.

I understand your concerns with the costs of such visits to schools which may not offer a scholarship. I suggest you just ask where your daughter is in their recruiting rankings. If she is not top 2 or 3, then I would pass on going to see a school.

Good luck!

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