September 28, 2012

Timing the Collegiate Volleyball Recruiting effort

Hi Coach!

I have been an avid reader of your blog for several years and it has
been a wealth of information for me to act on for not only my 2013
Senior but will help me so much as my younger daughter enters
volleyball mania and already has the "bug".  Thanks for your effort to
keeping us informed.

Background - Daughter is 5-10 with shoes off and a late bloomer due to our ignorance about the sport and Hurricane Katrina impacting our
lives during critical club development opportunities for her that was
missed during her critical development time in Jr High.  It was just a
crazy time in our lives to focus on athletics...anyway she barely made
the freshman team but did not have hardly any volleyball skills.  We
finally realized we had to do something and took the advice of my
family member and put her in club ball after her freshman season

We live in a small rural area so the club teams are challenged
by having alot of kids to choose from so my daughter got to play alot
of different positions which started as a setter the fall of her
freshman year and she set some during club her sophmore year but
mainly played Opposite her sophmore year.  Her junior year she played
alot of middle due to team injury and some Opposite.  Her high school
season performance was freshman rode the bench, sophomore year started as opposite, her junior year started Outside hitter on Varsity and beat out 3 seniors and was honored as 1st team hitter in her district and her senior year she has started outside hitter except for about 5 matches which she had to play middle again due to team injury.  

As you can see she took awhile to get going and I have held back until May this year to put her profile up on  The profile has received alot of looks and we have seen alot of activity mainly from D3's, NAIA's  and JUCO's.  Additionally she has been invited to visit when the season is over to 2 D3's, 2 JUCO's and 2 NAIA schools. She also has received alot of repeat email on general "how are things going" email from either the head or assitant coaches of 6 D3's, 4 JUCO's and 3 NAIA schools.

Questions - Since she is a late bloomer and still has alot to go:

1.  What should our strategy be now because we only have a few windows of opportunity for site visits before high school season is over and I am inclined to wait until then and put off any site visits that have
been asked for.

I would not pursue any distant school visits at this time because of the late developing talents of your daughter. It is good to make a visit or two locally/regionally, to get a feel for how a visit works and to get experience about what to look for. Unless a school is clearly among your PSA's top group, I would rather her focus on the high school season and you save the money of travel to applied later.

2.  Since one of the D3's was a final 4 contender last year and has
been emailing alot should we be more aggressive then just responding
to the email or request a visit.  Should we be pushing them.  By the
way we are in Texas and they are an East Coast School...a long way
that really needs purpose before we may that drive or fly.  What is
your opinion on sending a kid by themselves to a site visit? I am
uncomfortable about it but I am wondering if I am to protective.

I would let them put out the offer of a visit, and I am surprised they have not done that by now.  Schools should be pushing athletes, and not the other way around because PSA's cannot force the situation; a school is interested or they are not.  I do not support sending a PSA alone on a visit; there are just too many things which need to be asked and digested in today's world of collegiate athletics, that is it better to have an adult set of eyes on the ground.

3.  Since some of the D3's and NAIA schools interested in her are
quite successful should we slow play the whole process and see if some opportunities come up in D2 after the season? We have emailed the heck out of the D2's but only have seen limited results.

This is a poor time to have outreach success because the collegiate season is in full swing.  Remember that many programs (too may DI's and almost all DII/DIII, don't have full time assistants.  This results in the coach juggling way too many balls, and recruiting is often the ball which is dropped in early fall.  I suggest you focus on your PSA's skill development, and preparing for the club season.  Texas is/has become the prime recruiting region in the country because TX kids will travel to colleges out side of the state/region.  This results in a huge number of college programs recruiting Texas hard early in the club season; the tour of texas qualifier/stops, the different power leagues, the large holiday tournaments will all have significant number of college coaches there scouting for the 2013 class.  If your daughter is getting interest from NAIA's (which is equivalent to D2), then I would anticipate she will start receiving looks/contact from D2's and lower D1's when the club season rolls by.  I advise senior VolleyFamilies that if they have not committed to a very comfortable academic/athletic school by their spring junior year, then to focus on skill development and outreach in preparation for Winter of the Senior year.  There are just too many Senior winter opportunities which will present themselves, and to try to lock something up Junior summer or Senior Fall is illogical.

4.  What is the best strategy to figure out what the academic package
might be offered from D3's we just pick 3 and apply
and see what comes or be more strategic about trying to figure out
from all of them which ones might have a better package of academic
scholarships.  Some of these schools are hard to figure out what they
have from there websites.

D3's can be a bit different that other categories with regards to admission and financial aid packages.  Some D3's have a very early application process.  If your PSA is interested in D3 (she has to know that academics are prime, volleyball is not nearly at the level of ability or intensity of other categories) because it suits the collegiate focus she wishes to have, then she should pursue the top 3 in this category.  I strongly caution VolleyFamilies from looking at D3 through the lens of collegiate volleyball, because D3 is a unique world.  I get concerned when VolleyFamilies are willing to pay 50k+ a year to send their PSA to a D3, just so she can play volleyball because the D3 model intentionally minimizes athletic significance.  If school is a PSA's primary objective, and she also would like to play volleyball (volleyball is just an addendum to her college life which focuses on academic excellence), then D3 can be great choice.  If a PSA is not a hard core academician (bio chem, pre-med, greco roman art research), then it is abetter choice for finances and collegiate balance to pursue Division 2 (or even lower D1).  

Back to your question; you need to visit with an admission counselor who should be able to provide you a 'ball park' estimate of financial packages your daughter would qualifier for in-house.  In fact, the volleyball coach should have a reasonable idea about what level of financial support the school would offer based upon your PSA's current academic standing.

5.  When we get D3 interest and then we receive contact from the
college admissions recruiter from that school are they just trying to
push kids into the registration process and academic school visit
process do you think they are initiating that interest directly from
the college coach?

It is my understanding that many D3 coaches will run their PSA's through the school's admissions counselor/recruiter because D3 does not offer athletic scholarships.  The admission people are the experts in the admission and financial aid process.  It would depend on each program/school about the level of volleyball interest; many schools (in all divisions) have discovered the value of using athletics to 'attract' student-athletes to a school for the bottom line.  Walk ons and partial scholarship athletes will make a positive financial contribution to the school.

I hope this makes sense and you can probably tell I am confused about
the best strategy considering the background but thank you for
considering answering my email.

In closing, I would suggest you focus now on skill development and put together a new outreach effort which captures the academic/athletic goals of your PSA (current video is a must for the outreach effort); look at starting this outreach effort in December, to prime to recruiting efforts by coaches in January.  My belief is the New Year will bring many new opportunities as programs focus on their 2013 needs, now that the collegiate season is over.

Have a great Day!

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