November 14, 2012

College Volleyball Transfer Options

Dear Coach,

I've been reading through your posts, and I think you offer good advice. I was hoping you would be able to answer some of my questions and offer me some advice - I would really appreciate it.

I started playing relatively late, my junior year of high school. I was thrown into competitive high school and club programs, where I had a great coach who invested a lot of time and energy into teaching me. When I was looking at colleges I had offers for full rides to some DII schools, a walk-on offer to a DI, and interest from various DIII schools. I knew that I wanted to pursue graduate school and decided to attend what I thought was a "rebuilding" DIII program. 

My third season here just ended. While I love the academics, the volleyball is incredibly frustrating. My coach does not know proper technique herself, and I don't think my teammates or I are growing here as players. She cares about the program and is competitive, but is not making us better. I miss playing at a higher level to the point where I want to play for some of our opponents. 

Is this something my teammates or I should bring up to the athletic director, or is this standard, acceptable for DIII? Not all of my teammates feel this way, having come from non-competitive volleyball programs. In a way, I think I blew my collegiate volleyball career by coming to this school. Are there options for me to play if I go to graduate school? 

Sincerely, M.K.

Thank you for your email - There are two issues at play here; 1) Part and parcel of your problem/challenge is the NCAA Division III philosophy of collegiate athletics.  Many times DIII coaches must coach two sports, and this can result in your sport not being the sport the coach is the most competent in.    DIII is about school first and athletics second, so going to the AD is not going to effect change - As long as the volleyball program has a good GPA, the players are graduating and the program is not horrible, then that is good enough for 99% of the AD's in DIII.  

2)  Since you have finished your junior year, it will be almost impossible for you to transfer to any other school because of the NCAA progress towards degree requirements; this affects the transfer ability.  If you want to try and salvage a strong finish to your experience, and you don't trust the abilities of your coach and team mates, then you have one option.  That is to not play your senior year at the DIII, and it would become your redshirt year. If you are able to graduate next year (in 4 years), then you would have one year of eligibility left when you are in Graduate School.  Let me have a disclaimer here; I am not a NCAA or School Compliance administrator, and I am giving you this advice based upon my understanding of the rules.  If you will be attending a graduate school which sponsors intercollegiate volleyball in their undergraduate school, then you would have one year to play.

In closing, I encourage you to keep the big picture in view; your collegiate volleyball career may not have been what you had wished for at this point, but your elite level degree earned at a DIII school and then the enabled transition to a great graduate school, is so much better than going to a marginal academic DII or DI program.  

All players at all levels must try and 'project' during their recruiting process:

-  If the team is bad, and has been bad for many years, then the odds are that the team could remain bad.  Many times a team being bad is not the result of the coach, but rather the lack of support by the Athletic Department.  You put the greatest coach in Volleyball into a Athletic Department which does not support the program, that great coach will not win.  

-  If you watch a few practices during a campus visit(s) and the coach does not display a solid grasp of technique or practice management, then this coach most likely will not do that when you arrive.  

-  If there are 20 fans in the stand when you come watch the team play, then they will probably have 20 fans when you play (unless you have a very large family living close by!)

Remember, you still have one year to 'own' - I suggest if you go with playing in graduate school, make sure you visit your compliance person first to get the correct information on this option.

Good luck!

Coach Matt Sonnichsen

1 comment:

  1. DIII is a different bird. Probably the most vital statement Coach S made was "when you went to visit and watched..." There are some DIII programs that not only offer a high degree of academics (afterall isn't the end game anyway) and VB. Look at the UAA Conference(the DIII Ivy League) and schools like Washington U, Emory and University of Chicago are routinely in the NCAA. Look to the roster makeup and you will see players from across the country.
    Recruits need to select schools based on what their life goals are and do plenty of research to ensure a good fit. I have seen too many girls just go with the D1 offer even though the school is academically marginal at best. As my Dad used to say "a diploma from there and 50 cents will get you a cup of coffee at any diner".


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