July 29, 2011

2012 College Volleyball Walk On considerations

Hi Coach,

I have a question about the timeline for girls being asked to be a walk-on at a DI school. When will coaches try to solidify their roster for the 2012 season? Does it ever happen that a girl is called in April of her senior year to walk-on that Fall?

My daughter is talking to a DI school about a recruited walk-on position for 2012 but they haven't yet told her when they can let her know. I hope she'll know this Fall (of her senior year in high school), but not sure if that's realistic or typical. They said they're watching her progress, and want regular updates from her about her season. The first time they saw her play was in April of this year(her junior year).

Thanks for your insights and thanks SO much for your site!

Volley Mama

Volley Mama (I like the twist on the name!)

A few observations and answers to your questions:

1. Rosters for the upcoming NCAA Division I College Volleyball season tend to get solidified in the spring before.  Unless it is just a top/top/top program, coaches are still trying to figure out during the spring season the gaps in their squad they need to fill and these gaps are usually for practice needs.  So, March/April and even May is when the practice roster gets solidified.

2.  I get very nervous when I hear VolleyFamilies actively considering walk-on positions before the later spring of their senior year of club. Unless the school is just the PERFECT FIT (read that again, PERFECT), then I feel it is potentially a poor choice.  There are going to be a tremendous number of scholarship opportunities come available at the end of the 2011 College Volleyball season.  As I wrote in my Las Vegas Invite tournament post (click here), I was stunned by the number of name brand universities actively recruiting the 2011 class.

3.  As a walk on, you are a free lunch for the Volleyball program - "recruited walk on" is just a nice sounding term which has no value other than to limit your non-athletic financial aid package to that of a full athletic scholarship.  The program you are in contact with is in no hurry to offer a spot because walk ons are free, and they might be able to obtain a better walk on player than your PSA next spring.

4.  Again, unless this is just the perfect school for your daughter (in every non-Volleyball sense), then you must continue with the recruiting process, contacting as many colleges/programs which fit a very broad definition of what your daughter is looking for in a collegiate experience.

5.  I write 'non-Volleyball' because walk ons have no recourse if they are cut from the team.  If a scholarship player is cut/scholarship taken away/not renewed, they have a mechanism per NCAA rules to ask for a hearing to determine if such an action was merited.  Walk on players don't have any such protection and many coaches will not hesitate to replace returning walk on player with another better incoming walk on player.  When scholarship athletes are subject to the One and Done (click here),the walk ons are in a very precarious roster position.

Hope that helps as bit.

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