March 26, 2012

Unofficial Visits, Part III

'Tis the season for the Unofficial Visit.  "If my math is correct, and it always is" then this should be the third recent post about this topic.  Unofficial Visits are the most important recruiting vehicle in VolleyFamilies obtaining and digesting information about potential collegiate destinations.

Hi Coach:

My 2013 PSA is starting to make some unofficial visits over spring break. She has graciously agreed to allow her parents to go along.  What we'd like to have is some guidance on our role in this event.

We know we need to allow her to take the lead on the conversations with the coaching staff but should we give her some one on one time with the staff? Players? Admission counselors?

Your guidance on appropriate parental behavior would be greatly appreciated!


PS we've enjoyed your webinars and find them quite informative!

Glad you enjoy the webinars and are getting some good information from them.  I won't have a webinar this week, as I am traveling on Wednesday down to Houston for the NCSA/AVCA Showcase and JVA World Challenge.  Please remember that I have many articles in my Inside College Volleyball book regarding Unofficial Visits.

A few thoughts for your upcoming trips:

1.  You must go on the visit - Even if your VolleyPSA hesitates, make it mandatory that you go. With the shift in mentality of collegiate volleyball coaches and athletic departments, the parents must be there.  Now more than ever it is a business, and your business is to protect your daughter.

2.  Parents must allow their PSA to engage in the visit, but the parents must have their radar on full blast.  Look and Listen at all times.  Look at what you were not shown and listen to what was not said to you.

3.  Have adult/business questions written down before you arrive.  Make sure you are asking questions about program budget, marketing support, staffing, academic support, coaching philosophy, etc.

4.  You should have your PSA spend the night on campus with a player - This will give some indication of the personality of the team, how many players come by to say hello or hang out, what is the feel on campus in the residence halls.  Also, make sure she is staying with freshman or sophomores, not juniors or seniors.

5.  The campus tour should include the entire campus - coaches can be good about not showing you things/areas they don't want you to see.

6.  Important to take 'comparable' visits.  Just like when the real estate agent prices out a house for sale, they look at other 'comparable' properties to see what the market it like.  The VolleyFamilies must also do this because comparing U of MIssouri to U of Missouri - Kansas City is not realistic.  Compare campuses which are similar in conference affiliations or size/commitment to athletics.

7.  Make sure you take time to drive around the town on your own and then double back to campus after your Unofficial Visit with the Volleyball staff ends.  As parents, you cannot trust completely what the coach is telling you, not completely.  The coach's job is to recruit your PSA and convince her to commit to their school; to do that, they will bend the truth to fit their needs.  Drive all around the perimeter of the campus, drive around where the off campus students live, drive to nearest place the students would shop for food or watch a movie, go back onto campus and walk around on your own to get a feel for the feel of the campus!

The final suggestion I have, is to be the grown ups.  Do not be 'wowed' by the school name, or the coach's resume, or the facilities - Be vigilant about seeing the entire picture, not just the view which is presented to you.


  1. When our DD was taking unofficial visits, we scheduled the day before the athletic visit as our volleyfamily's unguided-unofficial visit for the schools that she was most intersted in. Obviously this approach takes more time and expense, but she is our DD.

    By taking the general tour, we were able to interact with more actual students, see some of the sights, ask questions and get the view of 'jocks', etc. Then, when we toured with the athletic department we were a bit more familiar with the surroundings, could take a mental break (having our radar on full is tiring) and had better questions. We could also compare the messaging of the general admissions tour with the emphasis of the athletic department.

    For the most part we found the Crazy Coaches (CC) to be forthright, but they were still selling (which is what the visit is about.) For example, the tour highlights were often the same (like the food court - apparently that is a key aspect of campus tours these days). But the CC might emphasize the training table or the fact SA get the best meal plan. Another example, the admissions tour might highlight summer study abroad programs where the CC would speak about the 'opportunity to take summer classes' while on athletic scholarship. Again, we expected these types of differences as the nature of the recruiting beast. However, it was also good for our DD to hear that the SA experience is not about Greek Life and study abroad, but about summer hot gyms, bus rides and tutoring make up sessions.

    So if you can add an extra day, I recommend the extra time on campus for the volleyfammily to get some 'extra touches' to aid in the evaluation.


    PS: VolleyMom19 stopped by during MEQ and enjoyed the chat. (BTW- She says you are way more handsome in person than on the webinars.)

  2. Great feedback on your Unofficial Visit. I will gladly accept any compliment on my looks and need to upgrade my computer camera!

  3. Your comment #4 was the killer when my daughter was on her most serious visit. The coach had her staying with one of the current players, who decided that beer pong would be a great thing to do. The other recruit who was staying on campus that weekend thought that was a wonderful idea, but my daughter hadn't developed a taste for beer at the time. So she ended up playing beer pong for water.

    I think my daughter decided at that point that she wouldn't avoid the party dynamics of college by being on the team, and decided to focus on academics instead.


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