September 10, 2012

September 1st - Junior Year Communication, Part II

I am a PSA parent and I have enjoyed reading your book-- very helpful!  I have two questions please:

1. My daughter is a junior in high school and has been told by her coach and others that she could/should play for a Division 1 school and should look into contacting programs of interest.  Therefore, we sent initial contact emails and athletic bio info to roughly 40 schools that my daughter would consider with or without playing volleyball (to "test the waters" so to speak at schools she would be interested in attending, in general). We received roughly 50% emails back with the legal "thanks for contacting us, but we can't talk until later...but fill out our questionnaire and come to our camps, etc" which was about what we expected (the 50% part).

My question is, how serious are college coaches recruiting a PSA when they contact her immediately after the September 1 of her junior year deadline passes?  Do they send 100s of their top PSA this type of immediate contact, or is it only to their top 25, or only to their top 10??  I know every school and every coach is different, but how seriously should we as a family take this type of immediate interest/contact??  My daughter received two such emails right away; one on September 1st and one on the morning of September 2nd.  On September 1st, it was at 12:01 a.m. and my daughter received an email from a head coach at a big southern SEC state university that said they had been watching my daughter for over a year and (an excerpt) "I can't sleep because I'm so excited to finally get the opportunity to communicate with you... ...because I have a great opportunity for you!"  How serious are they?  This is not one of my daughter's top choices in general, but it sounded so nice to hear?

The second immediate email was from an Ivy League university that is currently my daughter's 1st choice school (not having visited any yet, etc, just her first choice based on majors offered, national reputation, etc... if she had to pick one right from the start).  Their email was less direct but still gives us hope that they are interested in our daughter, especially based on how soon after the deadline we received it.  Their email read: (an excerpt) "We are looking for student-athletes who can help build upon our program's recent success both in and out of the classroom.  With that in mind, we'd love to have you to fill out our online questionnaire when you get a chance to update or database information with the latest info on you academically and athletically."  So, HOW SERIOUSLY, in your professional opinion, do you think these two schools are considering my daughter????  Especially the second one from her 1st choice university:  Is she one in 500 that received that email, or one in 100, or one in 25, etc??   Because we would jump at this program and work towards it full force if they are serious.

My second question is completely different.  My daughter is a multi-sport accomplished athlete with 14 varsity letters so far into just her first week of her junior year (in other words, only half-way through).  She has been a varsity starter on 5 varsity teams since the 8th grade at her nationally recognized high school (small and private, but has a strong academic and athletic reputation).  She has been recognized as "All-State" in Soccer (goal keeper), and has won a State Championship in Track and Field, and has a PR high jump of 5'-4" , for example.  In her sophomore year, she broke three of her high school's athletic records in track and field and is tied for the overall highest number of varsity letters of any student (14) of all time and is only a junior...  We have included her full athletic resume in our correspondence with the volleyball coaches to highlight her teachability, drive, natural athletic ability, commitment, etc but have been careful to state that we are only interested in playing volleyball in college for them (as opposed to trying to play other sports too).  Her academic advisors have also told us she could earn a scholarship for her artistic ability (it's a hand/eye coordination thing I guess!) and she has been in the school's honors art program all along.  BUT my daughter is only 5-'10" (is MH/MB on her team) but is strong, can move like a gazelle, and can jump like crazy-- you can see in her track stats.

So my question is:  Should my daughter be working other scholarship avenues with her skills if the volleyball offers aren't there?  (only heard from two schools so far, even though they were instant).  We know better than to jeopardize the volleyball route by contacting track coaches or soccer coaches (our daughter has been told by her coaches that she could/should play high-level D1 in soccer and mid-level D1 in track, but would prefer to play volleyball in college) but we also want the best overall college choices and those two avenues may prove more fruitful... If volleyball coaches aren't calling, when and should we ever start working her other attributes??   At what point (if ever) should we address that she has other things to offer these schools (including the non-athletic art route) besides just volleyball if that dance card is full, so to speak??

Sorry such an epic email but I wanted to give you as clear a picture of our situation as possible.  I know my daughter should visit volleyball programs and talk to coaches to ask where she stands, and we plan to do that, but with only two replies so far, I don't want her to call them first when she is rusty at the whole process of speaking to coaches and make a bad impression, so we will call other coaches first that have not contacted her yet, to work out the kinks...  But how serious are the first two who did contact her is my real question?

Thank you very much for your time!

Glad you enjoyed Inside College Volleyball and I am happy help 'translate' college volleyball recruiting.

Many VolleyFamilies look forward with anticipation to the September 1st date of their Junior Year because of the opportunity to 'interact' with NCAA Division I coaches.  Please note that the contact rules have been changed for DII coaches.  With the onset of internet technology, the ability of PSA's to call college coaches, and how aggressive many coaches are with going through club directors/coaches (or just cheating) in reaching out to PSA's, the 9/1 date has become a little less 'heavy'.

VolleyFamilies should realize that the September 1st date is in the early part of a college team's pre-conference tournament schedule.  9/1/12 was on a Saturday, so every college program was playing matches.  While all college coaches know the importance of the September 1st date, it is a very busy time (arguably the busiest because there is just so much going on the first two weeks of competition), that getting emails out to PSA's on 9/1 can take a back seat.

I know from my NCAA DI experience, that while I wanted to get emails out to my recruits on 9/1, most of the time 9/1 became 9/8 or 9/14.  Too many DI programs are not fully staffed with a second assistant coach, much less a Director of Operations.  We know we should be getting out the emails to Junior recruits, but we have so many other things that we have got to get done because of the time of the year and we don't have enough staff.

A better time window may be to change 9/1 to 9/21, and that may even be too restrictive.  It is great that your PSA did hear from two programs immediately, but my bet is she is going to hear from many more because of two reasons; 1) College coaches will get more into a rhythm of the playing season and thus be able to circle back to recruiting, 2)  Scholarship and roster openings will emerge as the season progresses because of injuries, academics and cuts.  

Don't judge recruiting interest by the 9/1 date.  Welcome the fact that schools did immediately reach out, but view this as affirmation rather than summary.  You must keep reaching out to college programs, keep an open mind to region, size of school, majors, etc.  Don't shut down your efforts because there is still so much that can and will change within the college volleyball recruiting landscape.

College coaches will contact their considered list of recruits.  Each coach will determine how large that list is; Top 10 programs may only consider 20 athletes as having the ability to play at their program, while a mid level program could have 100's of players they are actively recruiting.  

With regards to the Ivy League school you mentioned as your top choice (and this goes for any #1 choice), you can't make a program scholarship your PSA.  I understand this is your PSA's top choice, and the school has many wonderful qualities, but the college coaches are going to make their recruiting decisions based upon their needs, and not so much your efforts.  If your PSA responds to their emails promptly, suggest and/or accepts any unofficial visit offers and keeps them updated on her season, with attaching current video, this is all you can do.  Calling them every day, or sending 100 videos, or buying the school's sweatshirt will not make the college coaches think your daughter is a better player or hits harder or jumps higher.

Look at your #1 choice in this simple way; they reached out to you on 9/2 which is a positive and you are among their considered group of recruits.

It is good to cultivate all collegiate support interests just because you can't predict the future - An old saying is that it is easy to say no, but hard to say yes.  It is better for your daughter to say no to an option because she had that option available, than saying yes to something which is not there.

If she is gifted within the world of art, then by all means pursue that as a possibility; better to have this choice available, then to retrospectively say you wish that choice would have been available.

As a 5'10" SA, for NCAA DI purposes, she is better suited as an outside attacker (either right or left side).  I would be stunned if the SEC school had her as projected middle, and even in the Ivy League, 5'10" middle would be on the small side.  If your daughter's goal is to play at the highest level of DI, then as a 5'10' player who jumps well, she needs to go outside.  If she is a good passer, then outside means passing and attacking as a left side hitter. If she struggles in serve receive, then she needs to be a right side player who focuses on shutting down the opponents left side hitter by blocking, and then hitting a high percentage as an attacker.

Don't judge your daughter's viability on being a DI volleyball player based upon the college coach outreach at this point. Also, don't limit your daughter's options to just DI. In today's collegiate sports climate, I seriously question whether or not Division I volleyball is the best option for players.  I think NCAA Division II many times offers a well rounded experience where players can play high level collegiate sports, but also have a life outside of the gym and can experience the many facets of being a kid in college.  With your daughter's gifts within the creative world, maybe being a Division II Volleyball player would allow her to be an artist and an athlete?

My blunt response is that you are putting way too much weight and thought into the fact that two schools (only two schools) have sent emails since 9/1.  If anything, that tells me not enough effort has been put into the outreach process by her/you.  Contacting 40 schools is not enough; you should be contacting 100's of schools based upon a wide range of parameters.  Remember, easy to say no, hard to say yes.  You want to put your daughter into the position that she does say no many times, because this makes saying yes the correct decision.  Reach out, and re-reach out to hundreds of schools - Elite DI's, schools out of your region, mid-level DI's, elite DII's, schools with art programs, schools with a large campus, schools that are in a rural area, small schools in a big city, etc.  

I would not worry about calling coaches at this point, just because that is getting a bit too far ahead of the game given the information you have shared with me.  Focus instead on reaching out to potential schools during this fall period, which also coincides with coaches who are determining their updated recruiting needs. Give the recruiting process more time to gather more options; this is the slowest time for collegiate recruiting because college coaches are in season; all of them will get back on the recruiting train later in the fall!

Coach Matt Sonnichsen

1 comment:

  1. I posted a comment on the previous version of September 1 communications and wanted to add a bit of information about the Ivy League schools as my daughter was being recruited by 2.

    First - be aware that Ivy League schools do not give atheletic scholarships. The only financial aid is need based. If you do not qualify for need based support you will be looking at a cost of attending that is close to $60K per year.

    Second - Grades and test scores are very important. If the SATs are not in the low 2000s and ACTs 30+ with a very high GPA your daughter won't make it through the door.

    Third - The Ivy's are tough academically and socially - think about a school full of kids that always made As and were the top of their class. My daughter fell in love with one that made her an offer, but ultimately decided that with her long term academic goals for graduate school, and need for balance with academics and social pressure - that she needed to choose a different school that provided her with the financial and emotional/social support.

    Good Luck



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