March 27, 2012

Academics and Volleyball Recruiting

Hi Coach
I recently started logging in to your volleyball webinars through NCSA and I have really enjoyed them and am grateful for the information.  Although I played college basketball and later volleyball, I am new to the whole volleyball recruiting process.  Your webinars have really been helpful!
I have about a million questions I would like to ask you, but for your sake and mine, I will try and narrow it down to the most pressing.  
My daughter is a high school sophomore, although she is the age of a freshman (just turned 15).  Last year was her first year playing volleyball.  Prior to that, she played elite-level club basketball.  Once a friend convinced her to try volleyball, she absolutely loved it and basketball was a thing of the past.  Since then, she has improved dramatically.  She was the starting RS hitter on her high school team both her freshman and sophomore years (this year).  

She played club ball last year and this year for two well-respected Southern California club teams and was the starting RS both years.  She is 5' 11" (barefoot).  She moves well, has good court awareness and has great natural "hands" for setting. She hits well also, but her hitting mechanics still have a ways to go.  Given the fact that by California standards, she is relatively inexperienced and that she is a very young sophomore and will likely continue to improve, should we wait to invite coaches to see her play now or wait another year?  

If we do invite coaches to watch her (her team plays in all the SCVA tournaments and will be playing in the Reno JNQ), is it appropriate to let them know that she is a year younger than her age division and that she has only been playing a year and a half?  I want to get a jump on the recruiting process but I don't want her to be passed over because she is still "raw."
Also, she is academically highly motivated.  She has a 4.5 GPA and is tied with 1 other person for first in her class, although she did not score as high on her PSATs as I would have expected.  She loves volleyball and wants to play in college, but also wants to pursue a career that requires majoring in difficult subjects (i.e. engineering/sciences, law).  According to her coach, she could play volleyball and get an athletic scholarship anywhere she wants, all D1s included.  

I have to say that I am not as confident in her abilities as her coach is (and she is too "short" for upper D1s).  Even if she could get a D1 scholarship, I am not sure that is the best option for her given she is likely to choose a difficult, time-consuming major - nor is she tied into playing D1 ball.  She is more interested in going to a good school, getting as much financial assistance as possible, and having a rewarding volleyball experience (emphasis on the first 2 in my opinion!).  She is willing to go to any school of any size (D1, D2 D3, NAIA) that fits the preceding criteria, but would probably be more comfortable in a smaller school..and of course I would want her to stay close to home, but that may not be possible.
Given all the above do you have any suggestions on specific schools that might be a good fit for her?  How do we even go about finding schools that fit this criteria?  How about the Ivy Leagues?  I am aware that the Ivys, D3s, and NAIA don't give athletic scholarships, but will find other scholarships for athletes given they fit other criteria.  Whatever thoughts you have on any of the above would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks again for helping vb families navigate through this all!!


With your daughter's age and your concerns with development, the fact is she is a sophomore and a 2014 graduate.  The collegiate programs will be evaluating her against other 2014 graduates no matter her age (older or younger than her graduation year).  With that in mind, you need to reach out to collegiate coaches just as every other sophomore family would.  

You can let the coaches know she is a young sophomore with a tremendous upside.  Don't worry about her getting seen as too raw; coaches can determine her talent potential and you just want to get her on the the 'To-See' of the college coach.  If she is 'raw' then they will just note that she should be seen at a later tournament.  There is a huge difference between Raw and Untalented.

It is good of you to be objective with her potential level of competitive ability and academic desires.  NCAA DI has become a beast of time consumption for Volleyball SA's - Gone are the days of limited off season commitments and summer freedom!  With her open mind towards potential colleges and universities, she will have many opportunities.

Please note that NAIA schools do offer athletic scholarships, but the Ivy's and D3 are as you say (no athletic scholarships).  

I would be uncomfortable recommending specific schools because these are strange times in the collegiate world and any school I recommend, could easily go through a coaching change, conference change, priority realignment of the volleyball within the department, etc.  This unsettled nature of college athletics and volleyball has created a tougher environment for the parents to operate within.

What I do suggest is that your VolleyPSA base her communication outreach upon her academic and geographic desires.  By your feedback, she seems interested in the sciences/enginering paths in a slightly smaller campus.  These parameters will dictate your initial outreach efforts may be to a slightly smaller group than a liberal arts major open to all sizes of campuses. Because you are open to all categories of programs (NCAA DI-II-III and NAIA) you should be able to establish a rather comfortable initial contact group.

Don't worry about being too selective now with the outreach emails or pre-judging schools/programs but rather concentrate on developing initial contacts.  You can always say "no thank you" later.  In my Recruiting Education Talks with NCSA Athletic Recruiting, I say that you want to say 'no' many times because you only say 'yes' once.

There are any number of rankings of schools on the academic side, and on the ncaa sites you can do some research about the categories of schools.  Or, you can explore a relationship with NCSA, because all of the academic and athletic information is on their database's of each school.  

By your email, you seem focused on being proactive with the process, as opposed to waiting for your PSA to get discovered by the college with the academic program of desire. This is absolutely the way to go about the process; don't wait for it to happen by luck, but rather make your own luck by putting in the work.

There are two avenues to reach out to the schools of your choosing - Either do all the research and assemble the contact list by working your way through the websites of each and every possible school or use the services of a Recruiting company. 

Good luck with the craziness of college volleyball recruiting!


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