February 19, 2012

Managing Those Pesky College Volleyball Recruiters!

My daughter is a Junior 6’4” middle and great student. She is one of those players that has grown fast (4 inches in one year) and her muscles coordination has finally caught up with her height.   She was spotted by a Power Conference school when she was a freshman and playing up on an 18U for a rather obscure club team.  The following fall they made her an offer – but because we were already into your blog we counseled her to express her interest but tell them that she was unable to commit that early in the recruiting process.   Turned out that the coach left the school, so it was good that she hadn’t decorated her room in the school’s colors.  She followed up with the new coaching staff and attended their camp but no evidence of interest on their part (and she really didn’t like the new coaching staff) so no heartbreak on her part.

Her dream school is also in a Power Conference but she had just reached the  point of realizing that it was probably out of reach and started focusing elsewhere when they started showing more interest.  They attended the first MLK tournament this year and sent another coach to practice on Monday to observe.  They are communicating with her club coach and Director that they are “observing her” are complimentary of her talents but that it is very early in their process…. read – premature to get her hopes up but she is “on our list.”  The Head Coach will be watching her in Vegas however.  She is also playing for a stronger club this year with good coaching/recruit support.

So here is our problem.  There are several  very academically strong D 1 schools that are really interested.  One coach is flying out to watch her play in a local tourney in an upcoming weekend.  Another has invited her to an “unofficial visit” when she attends a qualifier next month.  She is now an emotional basket case and doesn’t want to talk to anybody.   She’s gotten to the point where she dreads opening her e-mail.

My advice to her is to be open and honest with all the coaches to let them know that she won’t be making a hasty decision – and is targeting the late spring early summer as her timeline.  I think this is reasonable based on your advice.    Do you have any wisdom on how much she should share about her dream school - I tend to think she should focus on the smaller D1s that meet her academic and geographic needs  and let the dream school take its time to play out over the season… but that is easier said than done.

Do you think that is the right approach?  Thanks in advance for any advice you may have.


I believe you are right on track with your protocol for your VolleyPSA.  I would say that you will need to start looking at possible unofficial visit destinations soon, because she needs the opportunity to get on campus to 'feel' the different opportunities.  What you want to avoid is just taking one visit, and using just this one experience as a touchstone.  Your PSA may have a great visit to a school, and think nothing can compare.....but, she needs to visit a few schools to be sure.

It is absolutely reasonable to express to potential schools her timeline because this is her volleyball playing experience and not theirs.  What I suggest is that you/her sit down and put together a list of schools pre-Qualifiers which 'sound' attractive to her. Nothing ranked, no top this or that, but rather just those schools which she would like to know more about.

Then encourage her to 'explore' these schools on line, to read about the volleyball programs - This is an easy way for her to start engaging in the process of winnowing down her list of potentials.  As for the emails, please let her know that she should be more concerned about 'reading' them and not 'responding' to them.  A simple, "Thanks for your email and information. As this is a busy time, I am focusing on school and practice.  I appreciate your interest in me."

She should only be responding to those schools which have made her general interest list - If a school emails her which she has no interest in (for whatever reason), she can either hit the delete button or just let them know "that your school is not top group and please be kind enough to remove me from your recruiting efforts".  This is a business, and I guarantee you that if she did  not meet their needs, the college program would just hit the delete button on her.

Good luck!


  1. EB,

    I'm a dad whose daughter is a currently a college Freshman. The search for the right school can be painful, but the one thing that helped my daughter narrow things down was visiting the schools, either as a recruit or as a plain student. My daughter eliminated a number of schools from her list very quickly (one was out within the first five minutes on campus) when she decided they were not the correct academic fit for her. And with a "great student", the academic fit is going to be a key to her happiness in college.

    My daughter ended up deciding to forgo her chance to play volleyball for a pretty good D3 program when she fell in love with the other aspects of a larger big league D1 school. The hardest part for her was telling the coach of the other school that the 6'3" middle was going to pass on playing in college. But it's working out for the best.

  2. Concerns about email volume led to our establishing a separate email account for college search & recruiting that she listed on recruiting sites, collegeboard, etc. She used that email accoun for outbound & inbound coach emails and stayed on top of recruiting info by checking it each afternoon; she could file messages by school, by interest level or follow-up date. Before she left for 3 weeks (w/ no internet access), she asked her parents to check it and send quick acknowledgements with when she could be in touch. Having the separate email meant prompt responses and kept her personal email from clogging up.

    We found that college admissions staff often target their outreach communications by PSAT, SAT, and other test scores. Collectively they generated up to 25 messages a day. Even if recruiting were not in the picture, that separate email address kept it manageable.

  3. Great idea about obtaining a specific email address just to be used for Recruiting!!! I know that NCSA provides such an email for its VolleyFamilies to manage their communications with coaches via the NCSA site.

  4. Thanks for the great response and suggestions -especailly about the separate e-mail account. My daughter had a good tournament in Vegas and actually received some emails from new schools today that she's excited about. Mom and Dad are trying to enjoy the ride!


  5. Glad you got some positive recruiting interaction following the Vegas tourney! Hopefully you escaped with a couple of quarters from the casinos! Wonderful to hear the VolleyMom and VolleyDad are trying to enjoy it all!


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