September 6, 2011

College Volleyball Recruiting Questions

Now that Sept 1 has come, I finally get to ask a question. Not that many have come to mind over the past couple of years reading and being educated by your great Blog.

Our DD has received about a half dozen or so 9-1 emails.  How far down on the depth chart do coaches usually go? I’m thinking that the Mid-Majors probably send out more than the Power Schools and so on down the line.  If schools that had previously sent out questionnaires and the ''Camp Brochure" didn’t email, does this mean they are no longer interested?  Or do some schools, since it is in the beginning of their season, just take longer to get around to it?

Again, many thanks for telling it like it is and allowing us here in the fog to see the light (or at least get a glimpse of it). T.N.

Hi- Now that the Sept. 1 deadline has come and gone, I have a question.  

My daughter is beginning her Junior season of high school play.  She is 6’2 and has played travel ball for 4 seasons.  Before the Sept. 1 deadline, she had received approximately 15 letters from D1 schools and some more from a few D2.  We devoutly returned all of the questionnaires, not wanting to prematurely mark anyone off the list.  

There has been one smaller  D1 school that has really shown major interest by attending many of her travel games, sending messages through our club director, and inviting us to campus for an unofficial visit. 
My daughter was disappointed when Sept. 1 rolled around and only received 3 emails from college coaches… from a D1 Ivy League school that does not give athletic scholarships, one from a major D1 school, and one from the school we already knew is interested.  

I think we were expecting many of the schools she had received letters from to contact her again.  Nothing has changed, in fact, she has continued to improve since they sent the letters!  Can you tell me what is happening and where we should go from here?

Thanks! V.C.

First of all, I would like to thank each VolleyFamily for waiting until after September 1st to send in their questions.  Even though I have never used this site as a recruiting tool, it is important that we stay within the NCAA rules.

As I have written in a previous post, the importance of the 9/1 recruiting date has diminished with the Internet.  Program and school information is readily available on the web, NCAA rules have been enacted to mandate certain items can only be viewed via a school's website, and the websites of athletic departments have evolved into something more akin to ESPN than just a dry listing of departmental facts.

For the elite level programs, they may well be done (at this juncture) with their scholarship recruiting of Juniors in High School.  The power conference teams are hyper aggressive in their recruiting; working through club coaches, club directors or just plain cheating, to encourage dialogue, campus visits and to obtain a verbal commitment from PSA's who have not reached September 1st of their Junior Year in High School. This accelerated time frame translates into more programs being done and less emails sent to PSA's.

The rest of us, are doing our best to stay on top of the recruiting communication, but this is the worst time of the calendar year for us because of our collegiate season.  September 1st is one week after we begin our playing season, which means we are juggling way too many balls.  The majority of College Volleyball programs do not have director of operations positions, so all the travel receipts, travel confirmations, equipment returns/reorders, class schedule confirmations, video exchange, video breakdown, facility scheduling, and 50 more items must be handled by two or three total staff members.  This does not include the 3 plus hours a day of training the team or playing matches.

Something has to be sacrificed, other than a coach's sanity, and what gets put on the back burner for a few weeks is the communication with the Junior class.  Once college teams get into their conference schedule, then recruiting picks up again, because we are not playing 4 matches a week in tournament and midweek non-conference settings, but rather going to play traditional opponents in cities/venues we have played in before.

Another item to consider is the changing recruiting needs of a college program.  Now that we have our freshman class on campus, along with our returners, college coaches now have a clearer picture for what we might need in the Junior recruiting class.  As much research, watching, talking, evaluating we do with an arriving freshman class, we won't know exactly what we have until that player is on our court training and playing.  Same goes for returning players;  did they arrive in shape, do they have their heads on straight, did they recover from off season injuries, etc?

As to the specific questions above:

1.  Coaches will email every recruit, eventually, which they believe has the potential to be a positive addition to their program.  Some coaches cast a very wide net, why others are very specific and limited in who they email; each situation depends on the philosophy of that coach.

2.  Do not read anything into a program not sending an email, which had previously sent an introductory letter, as this is a crazy busy time in our schedules.  But, do not confuse a camp brochure for recruiting interest.  A camp brochure, without a recruiting letter first arriving, is nothing more than advertising for the camp to drive camper registrations.

3.  Most schools do take longer to get their recruiting efforts rolling because of the college season.  If you have not received any emails/letters from schools which sent out introductory letters by mid to late September, then it may be best to put this potential program on the shelf.

4.  Again, what is happening is that College Volleyball coaches are crazy busy, with limited administrative support, and are prioritizing their day/week to take care of their current players.

5.  What you should do is keep reaching out to potential programs (please follow my Recruiting Plan, which is listed as a label on this site and within Inside College Volleyball), keep updating those programs which have previously contacted you and not get stressed about the recruiting process.  For College Volleyball recruiting, we are possibly in the slowest time frame outside of a Dead Period.  Things will remain relatively slow, in recruiting, until we get to the end of the College Volleyball season.  

Let me remind VolleyFolks of the general recruiting time frame we are in right now.  Recruiting is relatively slow now, and will continue to be mellow through the end of the College Volleyball season.  There are instances of some programs working hard or being very aggressive, but by and large, college coaches tend to be more focused on their current team than their future team.

As the NCAA season ends, Division I has an approximate 2 week window of open recruiting before the Quiet and Dead Periods start in December and continue to mid January (even though there is proposed legislation to change the Quiet and Dead Period dates).  Within this small window, you may see a flurry of activity with coaches getting out to early club practices, encouraging PSA's to visit, etc.  

When the Quiet and Dead Periods commence, college coaches shift their recruiting efforts more into organizing their databases based around what we perceive as our immediate and one season away recruiting needs, then engaging in communications based on those needs. For example, did a current college player suffer a career ending injury, is a player struggling academically and we are unsure if they will maintain eligibility, is a player partying too much, will a player be cut because she is not good enough to play at a certain level.  All of these examples impact the immediate needs of the team for the fall season, along with re shifting our recruiting needs for the Junior class.

As a VolleyPSA, the best thing you can do, while us college coaches read the tea leaves, is to focus on becoming a better Volleyball player.  As a VolleyFamily (and I now have shifted my emphasis to include the family more in the process than before, just because 15 and 16 year olds need mature parental guidance when dealing with college coaches), the best thing you can do is to continue communication with interested programs, while reaching out to potential programs.

While it can seem that the recruiting process is spinning awfully fast, and scholarships are being snapped up right and left, there is still plenty of time and plenty of opportunities in the Junior class.

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