June 30, 2012

I just don't know - College Volleyball Recruiting Question


I have an unusual questions for you- How to decide if you want to play volleyball in college?

I'm a sophomore (class of 2015), 5'9 OH with  decent skills and average jump. I have solid academics-3.9 gpa with honors/AP classes at a college prep high school. But I live in southern Illinois, and play on a non-national club team.

I know most girls have a clear cut desire to play at the next level. I just don't have that "gut feeling". I find it hard to know what I'll want a year from now, much less what/where I want to be or do when I'm 20!

I wouldn't mind playing in college, but i know I'm not good enough to play for strong, academic-minded D1 universities that I would choose to go to regardless of sports.

I don't really want to go to a really small college or junior college just to play volleyball. Part of me just wants to go to school and just have "normal" college years! But then you must actually pay for school-which sounds silly, but no one likes debt!

Is there a usual timeframe when average players get contacted by schools? I'd love to know if theres any interest before investing money and countless hours in bigger/better club volleyball.

I wish I could see how good I'll be 2-3 years from now to see what my options would be!

Do you have any advice for me?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I truly appreciate it; I'd be extremely grateful if you could provide any insight.

So confused.  M.N.

You have posed a good question.  A few of my thoughts (other than wear sunscreen and don't eat processed foods:

1.   Doubt means Don't.  This is good advice for buying used cars or considering sky diving.  With your volleyball, it means Don't blindly do what others are doing.

2.   You still need to let your abilities blossom and your mental comfort zone develop.  All of us wish we could know what we will want/feel in 5 years.  If we knew that information now, life would be a heck of a lot easier! 

3.  If you are enjoying playing volleyball right now, then keep playing volleyball.  If you are not enjoying playing volleyball right now, then you should not be doing it - Volleyball is not mandatory, like education or eating leafy greens.

4.  A wonderful attribute of collegiate volleyball are all the levels; you mentioned DI and there are many different DI's - big, small, academically elite and average, small towns, big cities, etc. What about DII?  There are outstanding academic institutions which sponsor DII volleyball.  NCAA Division III is focused on academics, and volleyball is a small (but great) part of the experience of going to a college where you don't have to be 24/7 volleyball.

5.  You have to reach out to collegiate programs - gone are the days where they automatically find you.  This is especially true if you are on a small, non national club volleyball team.  There are just so many tournaments, so many club teams and so many players in today's volleyball recruiting world that collegiate coaches can't automatically 'see' every PSA.  Find out if they are interested in you by sending out your video and volleyball resume - Much like applying for a job.

You mentioned you don't have that 'gut feeling' - Collegiate athletics mandates that gut feeling, even at the less time intensive category of DIII.  You gotta know you want to be a college volleyball player because of the demands/rewards of this obligation.

My closing argument - Keep playing only if you enjoy playing now.  Send out your resume and video in the fall to get some feedback.  Enjoy being young! 

Coach Matt Sonnichsen


  1. AnonymousJuly 02, 2012


    Here are some comments from a VolleyDad, whose daughter is four years ahead of you (going into hear sophomore year at Syracuse).

    1) You still have a lot of time to make your decision. My daughter never even considered playing in college the summer of her HS sophomore year since she was a relative newbie to the game. She had no idea how her skills would develop during the next three years.

    2) If you want to upgrade your skills for your HS team, move up to a more challenging club. My daughter spent two years playing for the weakest club in our region, but she didn't make much progress the second year since she was the strongest player on a weak team that played weak competition. She moved to a stronger club her third year, made the top non-travel club team, and her skills exploded as she prepped for her HS senior season.

    3) Consider colleges based on how well they fit what you want. My daughter found out during the recruiting process that the time requirements for the D2 and D3 teams she tried out for would have kept her from having "normal" college years. She believes that a semester studying abroad has to be part of her college experience, but the coaches said that they leaned against that for their players. The coaches preferred that the players stayed on campus in order to work with the rest of the team in the training room. Even at the D2 and D3 level, it appears that there is so much focus on the team that it is difficult to have a "normal" college life.

    4) There are plenty of opportunities to keep playing volleyball in college even if you are not on the school's team. Most large schools have competitive club teams and more laid back recreational teams that can provide an outlet for your love of the game. My daughter ended up taking a complete year off from volleyball in her Freshman year, since she had plenty of other activities to keep her busy.

    My closing is similar to the Coach's. Keep playing volleyball as long as you love it, there's plenty of time to improve your skills while playing club ball, and enjoy your high school days.

    1. You said your daughter took a year off from volleyball her freshman year? How did she go about getting on the team her sophomore year?


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