September 24, 2011

Volleyball Recruiting Stress

Hi Coach!

My daughter is a 6'3" middle and has been one of the lucky ones to receive an abundance of emails/letters this Sept. 1, however, the downside is that it is very overwhelming and difficult to sort through who truly is interested and who is just fishing. 

She has one dream school that we have been corresponding with through our club coach since last spring and now directly and although they seem interested, they are also asking for more video to see how she progressed and will not answer where she is on their list of recruits for 2013 although they did say they are in need of one  if not two MB's.  This makes me feel like she is not really high on their list. Unfortunately we don't have a great high school team so any current video we send them is not going to really showcase her talents. Can coaches see through the bad supporting cast on a high school team and realize her skill? 

She has been putting off even talking to many other schools because she really just wants this one, but I don't want her to miss an opportunity waiting for them to make up their mind.  There are a lot of other schools that have very personalized emails about the impact they think she could make in their programs and want her to come for a visit.  99% of these schools are out of state and I can't afford to travel all over the country looking at schools that aren't serious about an offer. The only school that even mentioned an offer was the one D2 school we heard from, none of the D1 schools have committed themselves through letters or emails.  

So basically I need to know how to read between the lines as to who really wants her and will have an offer waiting for her if they get her on campus.  I wish this whole process was more upfront and honest so players and parents know what is going on. I feel like it is all a game and I am the only one who doesn't know how to play.

Thanks for any help you can give!

Frazzled VolleyMom

Deep breath, slow down, go outside for a walk through the trees.......I feel tremendous empathy for VolleyFamilies because of the stress of Recruiting.  They have put so much time, money, effort and emotion into the recruiting process that it can easily become overwhelming for everyone.  I believe that all too often, us college coaches can forget how emotional the situation can become for VolleyFamilies. For me as a coach, the toughest thing to do is contact a PSA to let them know we won't offer her a scholarship when I know she really wants to be a part of my team. While I may be disappointed when a PSA says "no" to my offer, I am never mad because it is a business for me (a passionate business, but still just business), yet it is personal for VolleyFamilies.

Work hard to not get caught up in the emotions of the situation and getting too far ahead of things, as your PSA is just a Junior.  There is plenty of time in the process and right now, as I have written, college coaches are swamped with our early season duties.

Best thing to do is just keep playing Volleyball, working on skills, while interacting with potential schools, reaching out to more potential schools and toughest of all, being patient.  Unfortunately, recruiting is a game and the best way to play the game is to be patient while communicating.  The VolleyFamilies which let it get to them, many times make a poor decision just to make a decision to end the process.

In specifically addressing your questions/concerns:

-  The dream school is stalling for time with your PSA.  They either are deciding which recruit in her position to offer, or they have offered a scholarship to another PSA and are waiting for an answer.  Your feeling is correct; she is not at the top of their list but is under consideration.

-  This may sound illogical, but don't worry about the quality of the video tape.  They know how good she is and if they have been as interactive in the recruiting process as you indicate, then they have seen her play enough in person to know her skill sets.  College coaches understand that many High School Volleyball teams are a big drop off from Club Volleyball.  Just send in a video of a recent match or film practice.  Do this because they asked, but my belief is that this is just a way for them to stall a bit more.  But, yes, College Volleyball coaches can see through the poor players and games to evaluate the skills of their recruits.

-  Absolutely DO NOT shut down or limit communication with other potential programs; this is the recipe for disaster.  As the dream school has not offered and looks to be in a delay mode, it is imperative to keep communicating with additional college programs.

-  A downside of this crazy, early recruiting process is that it places an economic strain upon families to make Unofficial Visits to evaluate and secure a scholarship offer/roster spot.  You can alleviate this situation a bit by being direct with the schools which have invited you for a visit.  They will know if they are going to offer a scholarship because they have been communicating and they have seen your daughter enough to have any concerns answered.  It may not be the most comfortable (remember that this is a business for the schools while this is personal for you) ask the coach exactly where your PSA stands on their list and if they intend to offer a scholarship as a part of your visit.  If they cannot give you a clear answer, then don't make the visit.  You are not committing your daughter to this school or giving a false impression, you are just making sure you are not wasting time and money for a lookee-loo.

-  I am only speaking of myself and my experience, but many schools want to present a scholarship offer in person or at least over the phone.  Maybe a bunch of schools do extend offers via email or letters, but I think coaches tend to want it to be more personal, so they can gauge a PSA's reaction.

-  I suggest not trying read through the lines; keep it simple and just ask.  I would hope that schools will be honest and let you know exactly where they stand or at least give you an indication of where they are in their recruiting efforts for your daughter's position.

My impression from your email is that the increased communication in conjunction with the September 1st date may have accelerated your stress.  This is common, as VolleyFamilies have waited a number of months and even years to be able to interact with college programs, and wish to have some closure to what is a long process.

As I mentioned above, concentrate on communication with current college programs, keep reaching out to potential college programs and encourage your PSA to keep getting better in Volleyball.  The positive is your daughter is tall and has been contacted by a number of schools; just give it time and I know things will work out for the best.


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