Dear Daughter (DD) first played volleyball last year, on the varsity team as a 12 yr old, 7th grader. It was the first sport of any kind that she has played – we got a late start. She then joined a club team and was placed on the 13 Level 2 team although she was also considered for the 13 Level 1 team but did not make it due to lack of competitive experience (how to run offense/defense and generally where to be on the court at all times).
We are considering going back next year, but it’s tough to get on the 14 Level 1 team as we live in a region of the U.S. that has hordes of talent (think beach) and most of these girls have been playing since they were 10 years old! DD has the can’t-be-taught athleticism and has garnered some interest from the Level 1 coach because of it. In my opinion she will only get better as her physique is powerful as is her serving (powerful jump serve) and outside hits (although on current team she is the MB) and a current vertical a little under 9’ (she is 5’7”). She will likely be 5’10-11" at her final height. She is a good all-around player with great back row ability and passing. Her weakest point being setting likely because she has no opportunity chance to play that position.
My question: If she does not make the Level 1 team with the same club, should we continue there at Level 2 and hope that she will get enough court experience by 15’s for Level 1 at the same club or should we shop for a club that will take her on as a Level 1 player? I’m told that when you shop around it doesn’t look good. She loves the club where she is, and it has been a wonderful experience for the whole family. Also should we invest in serious clinic time and costly private lessons during the summer to enhance her chances at Level 1 at the current club? or should she go the route you suggest in your other responses (i.e. enjoy the summer, stay in shape, and be ready for the fall season) as she is not even in high school yet. Club is expensive and I want to make the best decision I can. Long range goal is a D2 school, or even junior college with the chance of possible transfer later.
BTW – Love your website! Being new to the volleyball world, your clear, concise and sometimes, tongue in cheek approach offer us newbies understanding similar to that knowledge that was hard-earned by VolleyFamilies of many years of experience. I will keep reading and definitely pass along. Thank you.
New VolleyFamily (NVF)
I commend you for considering the developmental future of your daughter's Volleyball experience, while also recognizing that she is still just a kid.
Let me try to break down your paragraph of questions into their separate parts, because I believe your questions are the same ones which other VolleyFamilies may well be considering:
Level 2 if not Level 1 - As a 14 year old player, who is just learning the game, I think you are in a good position with the Level 2 squad. By your earlier information, you come from a Volleyball region, so the Level 2 teams will be solid and offer good competition. One of the benefits of being in a Volleyball region is that the second teams of each age group are good.
15's Level 1 - Being selected for a top team as a 15 year old becomes a bit more oriented towards athleticism than at earlier ages. The 15's year is like walking out on the diving board and then at 16's you jump off of it. As your daughter sounds athletic, this will play a role in her selection to a top 15's team. I would think the learning curve of her 14's experience, even on a second team, will give her the skill support needed.
Shopping Clubs - This tends to be a regional thing. In Southern California, players tend to be very loyal to their clubs and switching clubs is not taken lightly. In Texas, switching clubs or even starting up new clubs is not a big deal. From a college coach perspective, it does not really matter to us what club a player is on, as long as they are getting good training and playing in a few solid tourneys. You made a significant point when you said your daughter loves the club and it has been a positive experience for the whole family. These are two things that so many other club families don't have.
Additional Training - I understand that your/your daughter's goal is to make the top club, so there is the consideration of camps/clinics and lessons. Because your VolleyPSA is new to Volleyball, every touch on the ball will make her better. But, these touches cost money. I would look at two options; 1) send her to a college level camp or two (does not have to be DI or even NCAA), as this will allow her some touches, interaction with players outside of her club, hopefully some possible mimicking of college level players and a chance to be on a college campus, 2) Use your 'beachy' locale to get her playing Beach Volleyball. As she seems to have the characteristics of a future outside hitter, playing Beach Volleyball is a great way to get touches on the ball, learn the nuances of court positioning and reading other players, along with playing in a physically safe environment (along with hitting the waves after the game is done!) which does not cost a dime!
As in other responses, I do suggest your daughter and your VolleyFamily slow down and enjoy the summer. All too quickly, your summers will disappear into season ending club events, college campus visits, high school camps and summer leagues.....these are precious days which you are passing through, so please slow the clock down. Have her do a camp or two, be active playing some Beach Volleyball (which the VolleyFamily can also enjoy) and look forward to the days to come with anticipation!