July 9, 2012

Summer Recruiting for Volleyball

Hi coach, another year, another question.

Now that 17's is officially over and Orlando is in the rear-view mirror, we had narrowed it down to 5 high academic D-2 and D-3 schools.  But money is still a big issue and we are about 1 ACT point (currently stuck on 27 with a 32 in math) shy of Academic $$$.  DD will be attending several camps at prospective schools to gage the girls/programs as she has only to to a couple of the schools on unofficial visits.  All seem very interested in her although I see her as an undersized but quick and lean 6' (6'-1") MH.
You have always consoled nervous parents and players that they needn't panic if DD wasn't committed by 17 club season.  Just as we thought we were reaching the end of the line, AAU's has brought about a whole new slew of interest and D-1's are in the mix (won the 1st 8 matches then crashed and burned on the last day).  One D-1 coach I just happened to be standing next to (I thought he was a parent from the other team) asked where she was in the recruiting process (after she served out the last 6 points in game 1) and I was honest and forthcoming.  It didn't seem to phase him in the least, he just asked when was she leaning towards making a commitment.  Even when I said 'ideally before HS season but she has several official visits and camps lined up for July and August, he said "I'd love for her to consider us, I'm looking for 1 2013 Middle and think she would fit in perfectly". (Ironically, he said he stopped by our match to watch an OH).
So, the question(s), what would be a good time-line for committing knowing that the next testing date isn't until late August and then it takes several weeks to get the results.  Also, should we inform schools about other offers/interest? 

Many of the schools on our radar seem to have a "apply and get approved for admittance and we'll talk" approach.  Should we just apply to all of them (after a while it those $75 start to add up).
I hope this also sheds some light for those behind us in the process.  T.N.

Glad to help and thanks for reading collegevolleyballcoach.com.

Your experience proves my point about the ever-changing nature of today's recruiting climate.  VolleyFamilies get panicked when they hear of the early developing players getting scholarship offers, and committing to schools (but what they don't hear is when they players are the victim of The One and Done).  As I have been writing my site, and when assembling my book, Inside College Volleyball, the development of the very early scholarship/commitment, then the rise of The One and Done, are the newest characteristics of college volleyball recruiting.

I hope that VolleyFamilies who didn't receive that early recruiting interest, are coming to see the wrap around nature of the volleyball recruiting cycle.  Much like how a rain storm may have an intense start, then a lull, and a wrap around band of rain, recruiting can also have this look.  Because of scholarships opening up (for a variety of reasons), the category of a the volleyball program, funding support and the philosophy of the head coach, a number of DI schools will have scholarships available into a PSA's Senior year of competition.  

This was reality is clear each year in Las Vegas and Omaha, at their respective President's Day tournaments, where NCAA Division I coaches (and DII, DIII, NAIA and JC) are in a frenzy finding Senior talent to fill scholarship openings.

As for your situation:

1.  AAU's is quickly becoming the dominant year end tournament for college coaches to attend, and it does not surprise me that DI schools have shown interest in your daughter because of the afore mentioned scholarship openings.

2.  By your feedback, you have all three NCAA categories in the mix, which is a compliment, but also a challenge.

3.   Many NCAA Division III programs, because of the academic nature of their schools, need to have players apply and get accepted to move to the next step in the process.  It does not make sense with their smaller staffs (many times a DIII may just have one coach) to go after a player if they are not sure the player will be accepted.  But, as you say, the application fee's can add up.  Please note, that a number of academically elite D2's can also follow this protocol.  I would suggest applying just for those DIII (or D2's) schools which your daughter has a strong interest in attending; would go to school there just as a student.

4.  Your daughter needs to step back and look inside to determine what she wants out of her life in college.  As I have written about in my book and the site, NCAA Division I can be a great experience, but it will be the experience.  Gone are the days where SA's have the summers off, where they can join a sorority, where they can take spring break trips with friends or family, where they can do the internship they need for graduate school.  Your VolleyPSA must be honest with herself about her future - Does she want the intense volleyball experience, does she want a balanced life between volleyball and school, is she academically gifted yet still wants to compete, etc.

5.  The answers to point #4 will determine the time frame she will follow over the next few months.  If she is interested in exploring her NCAA DI options, then I would suggest a bit of a slower time frame.  She garnered DI interest at AAU's, and if she plays on a national type club team, she could have even more DI interest come the next club season.  Either way, I would suggest backing away from the idea of making a commitment before the high school season starts.  Give her time to take the ACT again, give her time to mentally and physically work her way through the varies schools recruiting her, along with managing the new influx of interested DI schools.  There is still plenty of time on the recruiting clock, and to rush a decision in today's recruiting climate is dangerous.

6.  I would communicate with all the schools, but not make it detailed.  Simply something along the lines that she is wide open in her consideration of future programs, is taking the ACT again, and is planning on taking a number of visits to schools.  I would only communicate specific scholarship offers if it comes down to a select few schools, when it will allow you to leverage more scholarship money by sharing details.

7.  Lastly, I must say this - The NCAA Division I coach at AAU's broke NCAA rules; plain and simple, he cheated.  As your daughter is a Junior, and the date was not July 1st, he should not have talked to you once he knew your daughter was a PSA.  All coaches have their smart phone or palm devices with the tournament/player information on them to ascertain the year and/or recruiting status of a PSA.  Even if he did not have that information, as soon as he knew you were the parent of a PSA, he should have ended the conversation and approached the coach/club director.  Realistically, the coach should not even be engaged in conversations with parents/adults around the a 17's court - This is not 'accidental' by the coach, but a conscious effort to recruit illegally.  As you indicated, you did not know he was a coach (if he was not covered in school logos, it is easy to understand), but he knew you were a parent, and the parent of a PSA he is interested in.  

Enjoy the summer and all my best!

Coach Matt Sonnichsen


  1. So if a Divusion 1 coach is at Nationals on July 1st he can talk to the parent and sit with them on the court? Also can he ask the coach prior to the tournament to play his recruit a 51 line up? If the club coach is a Recent Dividion 1 assist is any rules broken if he is influenced by other college coaches for example changing the line up to help another college coach? I feel this new Divusion 1 assist coach is catering to college coaches so he can one day be a coach to a specific school. It is disturbing to me that this college is scarficung the team to help a college coach he hopes to coach with in the future. Our team has done the worst we played all season. I feel these coaches are really walking a fine line when you are a club coach and a head coach in clib.

  2. If a player is a rising senior, then July 1st, DI coaches are allowed to make off campus contact; so, yes, a coach can talk with a parent.

    A college coach is not allowed to tell a club or high school coach to play a specific player, per the NCAA rules.

    Unfortunately, some coaches will use club volleyball as a vehicle to enter the collegiate coaching ranks or as a way to garner better collegiate jobs


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