I've just recently discovered your blog, so you may have already answered the questions that I have to ask. I am 20-years-old and in the middle of my junior year of college. Because I have decided to change my major, I will be in school for several more years.
When I played volleyball in high school, I was determined and dedicated. My dreams of being a collegiate volleyball player were never far from the front of my mind. I played club volleyball for a couple of years. I started varsity my junior year as a setter (I am only 5'5") and won two state championships. I've always worked hard and pushed myself to reach my goals. But when my junior and senior year rolled around and my parents couldn't afford for me to play club ball, I was told that I would never be able to play volleyball in college. After a less-than adequate try-out for a DI school; at that time I hadn't played volleyball for months and I wasn't in good shape at all, My dreams were finally crushed.
But recently, I've been wondering if it could still be possible for me to walk-on to even just a D3 school. I've stayed in shape, and I play volleyball at least 5 days a week. I am just as dedicated as I was 2 years ago, but I want to be realistic. I want your professional opinion. I think that odds say that I don't have any chance of playing, but I like the idea of beating the odds, so I would like for you to tell me whether or not you think it would be a good idea for me to begin approaching coaches, or if I should just let it go. If you do think that it is possible, I would love some advice as to how I should begin this process. Thank you!
Never let it go - Are you kidding me? There is always a way, and I am sorry that you were mis-informed as an upperclassmen in high school - There were so many options available to you, but if you don't know you can't act.
1. The NCAA says that you have 5 years to play 4 years of competition; this is called your eligibility clock.
2. New NCAA rules say that your clock starts either when you enroll full time in college classes or after one year has elapsed from high school graduation. But, since you are a junior, you may fall under the old rule. The Old Rule says your clock does not start until you are 21 years old, if you did not play any collegiate sports or train with a collegiate team (tryout does not count).
3. My instinct is that you would have 2 years of NCAA eligibility (you are a junior, which means you can retroactively redshirt 1 year, this results in 2 years being 'burned' because you were in full time classes). There is an outside chance, you could have three or four years if you fell under the old rule.
4. You must put yourself into Recruiting mode and start reaching out to DII, NAIA and DIII programs. Remember, DIII does not award athletic scholarships, while DII/NAIA tend to give partial athletic awards; but, all categories can package academic, merit and need based support.
5. I suggest you click the Recruiting Plan label on my site (lower right side), and read the Senior Year Recruiting Plan. This is the closest to your situation, and will give the best advice.
6. NAIA is a great option for the non-traditional student athlete (basically some player who did not go right into NCAA athletics). You can research NAIA programs at NCSA Athletic Recruiting or by searching through naia.org. The NAIA has 'open arms' when it comes to admission and eligibility, and could provide a wonderful option for your collegiate volleyball future.
7. The compressed version is that you must reach out to many, many, many (and) many schools in a wide range of categories to find your home. You do this with email - Include your college transcripts, a quick explanation of your situation, and then a video. You MUST include video in all emails (easiest way is to load them into YouTube) - Don't freak out about the video; just film when you are playing (you can capture with phone, iPad, camera, etc), cut it up to make your self look good and remove down time. Coaches need to see your skills first and foremost.
8. I will warn you, it will be an uphill battle because you are a non-traditional transfer athlete, and there are some paperwork hoops you would have to jump through. But, all these challenges are manageable and if you want it bad enough, you will be focused on managing it.
9. The time to start this outreach process is NOW. College Coaches are recruiting always, and over the Holidays is when they start to realize what openings they will have on their squad because of injuries, bad attitudes, grades, etc.
Again, you can find a place and play for at least 2 years - But, you have to be aggressive in your outreach to college programs and make sure you include video.