May 29, 2012

USA Junior Nationals - To go or no?

Hi Coach.  I have been reading your book and blog for quite some time now and am amazed at how much I’ve learned, how much I still don’t know and how much I will probably never understand.  I’ve not seen any other website or resource more informative or helpful as The College Volleyball Coach!  Thank you.

I have a couple of questions today.  Background: my daughter is a 6’0” middle, in her junior year, has played club, jr. high and high school VB since she was 11.  She’s solid, but not D1 unless at the lower level… all fine because her priority is academics, so decided a D3 school is best.  We’ve followed recruiting guidelines as suggested in your book and website…. started about a year ago.  We cast a wide net and have narrowed to about 6-8 schools she is interested in attending and who are seriously talking with her.  Some have seen her play in person at national tournaments (for a rotation or two or warm-ups), some only have video.  She has been on several unofficial visits.  She’ll go back in the fall for some official visits. I have realized that the D3’s have their own level of stress and competition when it comes to recruiting.  They are looking for not only talented VB players, but outstanding students as well and a strong GPA and SAT score is a must for them.  The schools my daughter is looking at are among the top academic schools in the country and we have come to understand there are a lot of very smart and very talented VB players out there…. Amazing girls!

She plays for a club which was not her first choice this year.  After clubs had formed their teams and started practicing, her club told her team they did not have enough for the roster, so the girls scattered looking for what was left.  We found a few choices.  One club in particular (a good club) told us they desperately needed her, said they had a right side playing middle.  She practiced with the team before deciding, but not all players were there and some filled-in from another team in order to have a full practice so we didn’t get a complete picture of what the team looked like.  But the girls were skilled, the coach has a pretty good rep, so it looked okay.  The director and coach called and called wanting her to commit to them.  She finally did.  

When she started practicing, she told me there were two middles (both seemed like fine players, one clearly a starter).  We were confused, but waited it out to see what might come about.  She wasn’t playing.  It wasn’t until the first out-of-state tournament when the coach told her she would play all day Sunday because, for religious reasons, one of the middles (not the starter) couldn’t play on Sundays.  At that moment, I realized we’d been bamboozled!  Several of the local tournaments have been on a Sunday this year, so she has played.  However, the national qualifiers are most important for recruiting and she has seen little playing time until Sunday rolls around and usually by that time, college coaches are gone.  

In her latest National Qualifier a few weeks ago, her team earned an American bid to compete in the JO’s this summer and yes, she played on Sunday when they won two of the toughest games they’d played all weekend (well, all year), but unfortunately college coaches were not there. I do have video, though.  Very unfortunately, the JO’s are Tuesday – Friday (NO SUNDAY).  I believe every one of the colleges she’s been in contact with has sent her an email letting her know they will be there and will watch her play.  What now?  

If she’s not going to play, I have a difficult time justifying the cost of the trip ($3,000+) for her to be a cheerleader and she’s become so frustrated at this point that I don’t think she even wants to attend.  She’s talked with the coach who merely says she needs to battle for the position.  She’s pretty adaptable and okay with that, but she hasn’t received much more instruction on what she needs to do/change/stop, etc.  I’ve sent an email to the coach respectfully asking him to be honest about whether or not he will be needing her for JO’s, but no response.  If she decides not to attend, how do we explain this to the college coaches?  To add insult to injury, the other middle with whom she is “battling” has no interest in playing college volleyball.  We’ve experienced the typical club volleyball nonsense, but never anything at this level.  It all feels like a test of my restraint of which, I must have buckets full because I have behaved admirably under the circumstances. 

Once she has decided on college, I am going to sit down and write a “cautionary tale” for club VB players and parents, particularly those in California.  I will explain that they should ask the most obscure questions even if they think it sounds utterly ridiculous such as, “how many players do you have in my position?” and “is every player committed to playing every day of the week?” and “if not, what does that mean for me?”

Help me get through to the end!

Many thanks!!!!  A.B.

Not the club season your VolleyFamily wants to remember!  With the folding of the first club age group team, you were kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Here is what I, the esteemed College Volleyball Coach (I can only refer to myself in the third person when I am already referring to myself under my pen name third person.  It used to drive me to eat broccoli when I would listen to football and basketball coaches on my former campuses constantly refer to themselves in the third person - they were so comfortable with it that I surmised this must be a seminar available in their coach's association convention), suggest :  

1)  Send another email to the Coach, and then follow-up ASAP with a telephone call to get clarity on the JO's.  

2)  During this email/conversation, be specific about what you expect.  I would tell him you expect your daughter to play in every match.  This is a reasonable expectation for the American division tournament, and respecting your daughter's recruiting desires.

3)  If the coach will not commit to at least an every other match scenario, then I would say Thanks but No Thanks.  Fool me once.........

4)  Should the coach not respond, then you just saved yourself 3k, which is better spent on reaching out to more collegiate programs and going on unofficial visits!  Or even camps; if you are in that rare situation where you are using college camps to evaluate the program.  The club program did not present full disclosure when you joined, so I would be in no hurry to assist them again; you already did it once.

5)  Don't worry about the Triple C's - Just tell the crazy college coaches which your VolleyPSA is in contact with, that your family had long standing plans for a summer trip (believe me, not too many CCC's are excited about Ohio; Atlanta?  That could be fun.  Miami?  Great time on the beach.  Dallas?  Yes, everything is bigger in Texas.  Columbus?  O'what o?).

6)  This was a hard lesson, but it will be priceless lesson come her senior year because I suggest you wait until the start of the 2013 club season before committing; this means your questions for next year's club will be impactive.  You will be STUNNED about the late rush of recruiters for the senior club class next year.  Just make sure your VolleyPSA is getting the necessary applications into her D3 schools because of their earlier admission review time frames.

7)  Just think how much time your daughter will have to spend playing beach ball, versus grinding out indoor practices leading up to Nationals.  Beach is a GREAT summer volleyball training environment!

Good luck and hang in there!

Coach Matt

Thank you very much for your advice, Coach.  No matter how many times I've read how important it is to be patient and to keep the stress level down during the recruiting period, it seems to creep back upon me.  Your sound advice certainly helps and your humor brings me back to reality.
Having not received a reply to my email, I called the coach.  Told him to be candid about playtime for all the reasons you outlined.  He said my daughter is just a little bit behind the other middle, she certainly has the ability and has had some strong practices lately that would indicate she would play at JO's..... but that didn't sound like a real commitment to me.  I told him it was unlikely we would attend, it's too much money to spend without a commitment she will play.  I told him I'd let my daughter make up her own mind, but thought the odds were slim, she's pretty frustrated not understanding what her goals should be in order to play.  He said he'd like her to attend (I still didn't hear a real commitment).  He said he hadn't seen her frustration, she works hard in practice and has a good attitude.  I still don't understand why he can neither commit nor tell me why she can't play, but I suppose I never will.
I'll probably have another question or two when Club season rolls around later in the year.  Again, thank you so much for helping students and parents in their volleyball recruiting process.  By the way, I think I've purchased 4 copies of your book.... I keep giving away my copy to parents who are even more lost than I (if you can imagine!).  You can probably add a tag line to the title...... "saving the lives of volleyball PSA's and parents everywhere!"
Thanks again!!!

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 30, 2012

    In all fairness, I have seen college coaches at tournaments on the last day of the tournament. D3 coaches tend to go to smaller tournaments than the biggies anyway (Power leagues, etc.)


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