August 2, 2011

College Volleyball Recruiting Initial Contact and Follow-up

Dear Coach,

Thanks for the great blog on volleyball, I have really appreciated finding your site and learning the ins and outs of volleyball from a college coach perspective. 

My questions are ...

1) What is the best next step to take with a coach (e.g phone call or another email or other) that has not responded to an email  that is expressing a sincere interest in playing for his team (the email had information and video links)?  She doesn't want to be a pest, but at the same time she does not want to miss an opportunity if it is available.  The school is one of her top 3 choices and its been more than two weeks since she sent the first email - and the email was sent only to the head coach.  Also, based on her skill level, it appears she would be well qualified for the team.

2) Is it appropriate to ask if he is interested in her at all or if it is too late?

3)  What is the typical recruitment time line for an NAIA team?  Are we too late?

Here is a little context to help frame my questions ...

My daughter is in the 2012 class, a good student academically, has played 3 years of varsity volleyball and basketball (starter in both sports), has only played minimal local club volleyball the last 2 years (after the basketball season was over in early March), and has attended a few camps over the past two summers.  She is 5'10, with a standing reach of 7'6, and an approach touch of 9'6.  She has played both middle hitter and outside hitter (last high school season she was middle hitter, and most recent club was outside hitter).She has never had to "work" too seriously during the off season to be able to compete (though she is motivated to in order play college ball and has attended several camps over the summers each year), and appears to be a natural athlete.  

Her most recent club coach - a D3 coach from a local private upper-midwest college - has assessed her ability to compete at the college level to most likely a "high D3 or low/mid level D2 team, and has a great work ethic".  He also said that she most likely has not really peaked in terms of her volleyball ability because she has not focused only on volleyball over the years.   

She would like to play locally for a D3, NAIA, or D2 team and plans to pursue a specific degree which narrows the number of schools she would be interested in ... and until this D3 coaches assessment, we really didn't know that she would be able to compete at this level, so we feel like we are scrambling to get up to speed on the recruiting process and with contacting local coaches. 

Also, she also has never been to a combine or other place where a lot of coaches would have seen her play.   So far she has had interest from several D3 schools, and the coach of one of the  D2 schools very high on her list has said that even though he is not recruiting for her position for that year, she would have an opportunity if she decided that was the school for her.

Thanks again for this great site. T T

Glad you enjoy the blog and happy to answer your questions.

1)  I would send the program/coach another email and if you do not hear back from this coach, then it is time to move on.  Many times, especially during the June/July time frame, college coaches take some time off, both physically and mentally from our jobs.  It could have been simply that the coach read the email and forgot to respond.  Give it another go and see if there is response. 

Even though your PSA may be great for that school, the program may not need her position or has already exhausted scholarship/roster opportunities for 2012.

2)  No harm in asking the coach where the program stands with the 2012 class, and specifically the opportunity for your daughter.  There is only one way to know for sure, and that is to ask.  If you don't get an answer back, then you got your answer.

3)  I am not familiar with the nuances of NAIA recruiting, but I think it would be similar to NCAA Division 2.  I say that because the NAIA can offer athletic scholarships (unlike NCAA Division 3), but are not as attractive as NCAA DI programs because of the unreal media push which DI enjoys versus other college divisions.  I believe you would have plenty of time with NAIA/D2/D3 programs in general, even though you may find a few of them already done with the 2012 recruiting based on their team needs.

4) She may need to make a choice among her two sports.  To play at the college level (any catagory), players need to start to specialize in preparation for that level.  If she is going to develop her natural abilities in one sport, then she needs to play the club version of that sport (AAU basketball or USAV Club Volleyball).  By the physical stats you provided me, she could easily play at the lower DI level as an OH. 

5)  If she chooses Volleyball, then you need to get her into the best possible club in your region, which plays a national schedule.  Beyond getting seen by numerous college coaches, these type of clubs allow their players the chance to compete against other regions.  CA clubs play a very different style than TX clubs, etc.  As your daughter seems to have a big upside, the more you can get her exposed to more/better training, better competition and a diversified experience, the better it will be for her.

6)  Be very aggressive about reaching out to potential colleges.  Please read my Recruiting Plan for the Junior and Senior Years (click here).  Follow this plan and you will increase your opportunities.

Lastly, don't sell your daughter short.  You never really know what level she can play at until you get her the training and exposure needed to truly see.  Who knows, maybe she can be an OH at the lower DI level, maybe she is better suited for D3, do you need the scholarship support of D2 or NAIA?  Get her into a good club, with a good travel schedule and support this effort by following the Recruiting Plan, and everything will shake out the way it is supposed too!

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