February 9, 2012

Current DI Walk On Question

My freshman college daughter just completed her first season as a D1 walk-on and she is staying at the college even if she didn't play volleyball.  She is actively training with the team this winter and the Head Coach resigns.  Her walk-on offer was extended by that head coach. 

When the new head coach is hired:

1.  What is the best way for a walk-on player to approach the new coach to ask to stay with the team?  Or do new coaches typically seek out the walk-ons for such a discussion?  Is it likely that new coaches out-right dismiss walk-on?  Or does a new coach sit back and watch as though it were a 'try-out'?

2.  What key points should she be sure to make during her discussion that would be most appealing to a new coach?

3.  Assuming she has a stellar spring season performance and the new coach is in place to see it, how should a walk-on approach a scholarship opportunity discussion - or does she just sit back and assume if the coach doesn't initiate the offer, she just isn't scholarship worthy? (there are 2 unfilled and based on your prior insights, it would seem the coach would move on to consider new recruits.)

4.  We are thinking her 'performance will speak for itself' and the new coach with either keep her as a walk-on practice player, or offer her a scholarship, or tell her he doesn't want her on the team.  

Basically, we (she) is in a new college volleyball situation with no experience as to the best way to approach a new coach. She does NOT want to be viewed as an entitled player and would like to show the coach that she, too, wants to do what is best for the team. 

I know it's many questions!  Thanks again in advance for sharing your knowledge and experience on this subject.


Glad to answer as many questions as you have; these are crazy times in the world of college volleyball and I am happy to help my VolleyFamilies!

In looking through your questions, I think the biggest thing to keep in mind, is that your SA is a member of the team.  She is actively involved, obviously demonstrated her value to the program her first season, and needs to act the part, which is a NCAA Division I Athlete.

If anything, the new coach will be more receptive to those SA's which happen to be walk-ons because they are 'free'.  In today's college athletic environment, women sport's coaches have pressure to increase roster sizes to offset the male sports participation numbers, which places even more value upon the walk-on player.

Let me move directly into your answers:

1.  I would not bother approaching the coach, but rather wait for the coach to approach her.  She needs to act like she belongs.  Most new coaches will take the winter/spring season to evaluate the talent which is on the team, as a function of how the recruiting efforts should be directed for the next 1 to 3 years.  If anything, I would be more worried as a scholarship player, than a walk on player.  Again, walk ons are free, so a quality walk on is a win-win situation for a new coach.

2.  If the new coach schedules individual meetings, which some will do, then she should express her desire to remain on the team, how she can contribute to the programs (skills, attitude, academics) and how she will work very hard in the gym.

3.  It is a long shot that the new coach will provide her with one of the available scholarships; possible but a LONG shot. New coaches want the scholarship openings to bring in players they feel best fit what they believe should be done to improve the play.  First things first; demonstrate the value to the program, secure the roster spot, then shoot for a scholarship by her Junior year. Walk ons are viewed as a freebie, so the new coach will look to bring in scholarship athletes, since your SA is already on the team.

4.  Agreed - Her ability/effort/attitude will determine her opportunities with the team; roster spot, playing time and possible scholarship support.

In closing, the best thing your SA can do is play to the best of her abilities, work hard and have a good attitude (as the old saying goes; act like you've been there before!).  As simple as this sounds, this is the best avenue for her to illustrate her value to the team.


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