September 28, 2011

College Volleyball Walk On Commitment

Dear Coach:

I have been reading your answers to many questions about Walk on Positions to a D1 school. My daughter was offered a Walk On Position after her attendance to summer camp, in July before her Senior year, which she is now. 

We were excited about the offer, but now after reading your posts we are hesitant on giving the commitment. The school is a great fit for our daughter, as it has everything she is looking for academically, location and the volleyball program in itself. The reason the offer was made so early, per the Coach, is that he wants her on his team, but said he didn't have a "scholarship" to offer this year. She has gone on an "official visit" to the school, and loved it. 

I guess my questions for you are: Is it too soon to commit and do you think she will eventually get a scholarship next year? And what questions/concerns should we ask the coach before she commits? IE, will a scholarship come available, if so, would she be able to get it? Or ask for some, if a little, financial assistance (like meals, books, board, etc.) Try to get some scholarship money to make it worth her time and effort she will give to the program. Also, will she "sign" like a scholarship player and get the recognition of a scholarship player?

She was told by the coach that he treats his walk ons just like his scholarship players, ie practice, opportunities, playing time, etc. If they work hard, just like a scholarship player, they get playing time just like everyone else. 

She loves to play volleyball and has worked hard for several years to play at the college level. Just seeing the opportunities that athletes receive, mandatory study hall, strength and conditioning, etc. is a big positive for us as her parents. She is a very hard worker and I feel she will be an asset to the team, and honestly feel this is a good move for her, at least for her Freshman year.
Any advise??

Thank you for your great website and information!!  K.S.
Glad you enjoy the site, and please do spread the word to other VolleyFamilies.

From the information which you have provided, I believe your daughter's situation would qualify as the "perfect situation". To that end, if she is mentally comfortable, along with you as parents, then I would commit. I say this because you indicate the school/program provides what your daughter is looking for academically, geographically and in a Volleyball team. In addition, they did provide an Official Visit, which does lend validity to the belief that she can be a positive addition to the team.

My only hesitancy to committing to this walk-on position, would be if your financial situation really needed to have a scholarship to support your daughter's collegiate experience and you still needed to find a school to provide a full scholarship. By the sounds of your email, some type of scholarship support would be nice, but not necessary?

As for financial support, I have two suggestions:

1. Per NCAA rules, the DI program is a Head Count sport, and if the coach is saying they have no scholarship available, this means he/she has 12 Heads on scholarship. The result is that they cannot even extend a small or partial scholarship for books, supplies, etc. from the athletic department. You should ask very clearly and expect a very clear answer about the parameters of your daughter receiving a future scholarship. What needs to happen for her to receive one? Does a scholarship merely have to open up, does she have to reach a certain year in school, does she have to become a starter or average a certain statistical level, or is the reality that she will probably never receive a scholarship and this will be a pure walk on position for her career? When I invite walk on players to my team, I am very clear about the parameters of a future scholarship because this makes the future easier on everyone - I will either dictate what year they will get a scholarship, or what has to occur in performance to get a scholarship or clearly tell them this is a pure walk on situation for their career. Just ask a simple straight forward question and expect a simple straight forward answer.

2. But, not all scholarships have to come from athletics. If you want to secure a possible scholarship, you should be in conversation with admissions and financial aid. For instance, at my school, each of my walk ons is receiving a good chunk of change completely outside of athletics; from out of state tuition waivers, to cash support because of their academics, merit, financial background, Karaoke talent, etc. Also, there is a number of federal grants available. You need to contact Admission and Financial Aid departments at this school, because many DI college coaches will not know the outside athletics scholarships because we are a Head Count sport. If your daughter has good grades, a certain percentile in her high school graduating class and good ACT/SAT test scores, I would be surprised if she did not qualify for some type of scholarship.

3.  Traditionally, the "signing" is when there is a National Letter of Intent involved, the NLI.  Because so many players are taking walk-on offers, a number of families will have their PSA's "sign" an Offer of Admission or Acceptance Letter with the school they will be attending. In a sense, this is Academic scholarship version of the National Letter of Intent.  In terms of recognition, the Sports Information department of the school should include your daughter in the release announcing which players will be joining the program in the fall.

Congratulations on finding a great fit for your daughter's collegiate future and I hope she enjoys a wonderful senior year of high school and club volleyball.

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