AAU Championships vs USA Volleyball Junior Nationals
I stumbled across your Collegevolleyballcoach.com blog while researching the question of AAUs vs. Jr. Nationals. I have a related question:
At Jr. Nationals, do college recruiters watch all the divisions or focus on the Open Division only? Our team had planned to go to AAUs until just recently. A vocal minority of parents (some of whom are a bit older) seem to have a bias toward Jr. Nationals. They basically told the club director that unless we go to Jr. Nationals in Dallas, their daughters will have a conflict and will skip the postseason altogether. Coincidentally, our team recently got a call and was offered a spot in the American Division at Jr. Nationals--which our coach made the executive decision and accepted. About 4 of 13 of the parents are happy and the rest (including me) are concerned that it will be a waste of time in terms of level of competition and level of exposure to college coaches.
In other words, I don't just want to know if AAUs are a better option than Jr. Nationals but to drill down and get your thoughts on the different divisions at Jr. Nationals--Open, National, USA, American. Even more specifically, which option makes more sense from a recruiting/showcasing standpoint: Jr. Nationals American division or AAU Open? Seems like a no brainer to me but I'm just a parent and would like an expert opinion to confirm or deny my instincts on the matter.
Any insights you can provide would be great and much appreciated! It may be too late to change our plans for this year but I think it's an important discussion our club and families need to have for next year.
In my opinion, AAU's is now the superior recruiting destination and many other college coaches feel this way. For so many years, the mindset was that USA Volleyball Junior Nationals was the summer championship event for recruiting, and I think the older parents are reflecting this stance.
At USA Volleyball Junior Nationals, the college coaches' focus tends to drift towards the Open Division, but they will pay attention the National Division (which I used to call Club - I just read the USA Volleyball pdf of divisions, and if it is in rank order, American is the 3rd of the 4 divisions). If in the gym, college coaches will make the effort to see any team, but they rank order the players/teams they need to see with Open being the top and the American Division will not be a high priority.
What I have always found difficult about Jr Nationals is the staggered start date of the age divisions; it makes effective recruiting a challenge because of the time commitment involved. Also, with the host city always being in a new locale, which presents its own travel and budget challenges.
AAU's has grown in attractiveness because it is always in Orlando, it is extremely well run and user friendly, and more effectively groups the ages together. I would also say that AAU's has a larger variety of teams, with clubs from SoCal, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico - This diversity is attractive to college coaches.