June 15, 2012

  Hi Coach! I've really enjoyed reading your blog and have gotten quite a lot of information from the topics, mostly on liberos. My daughter's situation is unique as you will see. She's a 5'4" libero that has been playing volleyball in school and club since she was 13. She also attends many summer camps, clinics and whatever training she can get her hands on to improve her game. She has had tough competition here in our area and has always had to fight to get where she is and enjoys the game now more than ever.

 Here's where the situation is unusual: she didn't make her high school team her Junior year! You see, all of the players except for one play for the same club that the coach is affiliated with, if they play club at all. The coach claimed that it was not the reason but that there are too many good defensive players in her school. We knew it to be nonsense and after some discussion my daughter agreed to be a practice player/manager. It wasn't long before it took it's tole on her and she had to quit. But, since she's a fighter, like I said, she continued with clinics and personal training and coaching until one day she suffered a concussion from getting hit in the head by a ball. She was out academically and physically for 3 weeks.

 She was released from the concussion the day before club tryouts for a club she really wanted to be on. Her previous club totally blew her off and didn't even offer her a makeup day even though they knew all about the concussion. She made the team as a libero hands down and it was the best thing that ever happened to her! It took a while for her to not to be shy of the ball but eventually earned a spot as the only libero and a starter.

 This club competes in the Open division and attends national qualifiers, unlike her previous clubs. It wasn't until she made this club team that she was ready to start the college recruiting process. Her previous club is very large and she wasn't on the #1 team and therefore competed in club level tournaments vs open level. We didn't think anyone would consider a libero on a club team for their school or take her seriously.

 So now the recruiting process begins. Signing up on recruiting sites,uploading videos,sending out emails,recruiting questionnaires, all of it. She cast her net wide, past many of the DI schools of her dreams and had a few solid responses from some DIII's, NAIA and lately DI's as an offer to walk on. One of the DI's is close to home and was her dream school too. They all like what they see and want her to visit, come to camp etc. But there is one coach that wrote her back the next day and said she looked at the videos and she was in a small group of players she was looking at for her DII school and to keep in touch.

 Well, we did, and when my daughter and I went on her very first ever college visit last month she fell in love with it. We got a wonderful tour of  campus along with the coach, had lunch with the team, and then went back to her office. At first the coach said it was between her and another player for the position and she showed us how the scholarships are divided up by player. Before the visit was over the coach offered her the spot with partial scholarship because she decided my daughter is her her first choice!

 Before you ask, yes the school impressed us and she'd go there even if there was no volleyball. But my girl "needs" volleyball and the coach sounds amazing. Some kids just want to play, but as you see, my daughter has had to fight hard to get here and appreciates it more than some might. She has not accepted as yet and the coach gave her until November to commit. But the interest has picked up even more speed, mostly DII which is actually perfect for her and 2 more offers for walk on in DI.

 So, finally to the question: tryouts for high school will be in August and it will be her senior year. Yes, she plans on talking to the coach before tryouts and letting her know of her offer (I honestly believe she'll accept this one before summer is over). I know that many times you say to wait until senior year, but this is a libero position spot, not an OH. What kind of recourse would we have if she didn't make the high school team this year? Should we put an ad in the local paper announcing her acceptance?Seriously though, I am so done with the political nonsense here and if you have a player worthy of a DII scholarship that the high school coach claims isn't worthy of her team there is something terribly wrong!

Another VolleyMom

Well, that is an interesting journey your PSA has travelled - I am glad to hear that she recovered from her concussion.  

My answer - Forget high school and concentrate on personal training while awaiting club volleyball.  By your information, your club volleyball team is excellent, you have firm opportunities to play college volleyball and with club volleyball starting so early these days, it is really only about 2.5 months of down time (which is probably a good thing for any athlete's body).

The only positive thing which I can see coming from the HS season is additional touches, but you can gain these touches via private lessons.  Why put yourself or your daughter into a negative or uncomfortable position?  You are absolutely correct that there is some dis-connect when a Junior libero is receiving DII scholarship offers and DI walk on positions, yet is not good enough to make the high school squad.  

What I suggest is simply communicate with the college coaches you are interacting with.  Let them know that your daughter did not make the HS team as a junior because of club politics, and you found that having this down time was a positive because it allowed for a bit of rest, while opening up the opportunity for private training sessions.  Because of how good last fall's experience was, your daughter will again use this time period for personal training in preparation for the club season.  College coaches understand that high school can be a different beast - We just want our recruits to do two things in the fall segment; stay healthy and get some touches.

Congratulations on her journey!

Coach Matt Sonnichsen

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