March 6, 2014

NCAA Division III Volleyball and Recruiting


My daughter loves volleyball and has decided that she wants to play in college, if possible.  She is a skinny 5’8” and has a 7’4½” standing reach (long arms).  On the teams she has played for, she has been a 6 rotation outside hitter. However, she is not wedded to any positions.  In other words, she would be happy to play almost any position on the floor.  While she is just a 15 year old sophomore, her plan is to attend a good liberal arts college, and go to law school.  She is a very good student.  She attends a private prep school that has a challenging curriculum.  She has a 3.9 GPA and earned promising scores on her PSAT (65th percentile in math and 99th percentile in critical reading and writing).

She started playing volleyball in 7th grade for her school.  The coaching was terrible, so she decided to try out for a club team after her 8th grade season.  The only club available to her at the time was good, but not elite.  She spent two seasons with the club, learning the intricacies of the game and developing her skills.  During her freshman and sophomore years she started for her school’s varsity squad.  The team and coaching aren’t very good, but she used the opportunity to get competitive touches on the ball.  My daughter is not a natural athlete.  However, she is wicked smart and has worked hard.  By the middle of her sophomore season, she had developed into a good player (solid outside hitter, good passer, very good court awareness, and a reliable, but not terribly effective, serve).  She matches up well with the players on better squads her HS team plays against.    

This year she switched to a new club run by a credible D-III coach.  The coaching and overall attitude is much better.  I think she will be a better player by the end of the club season.  Every season (HS and club) I have watched her grow and improve as a player.  I expect this to continue throughout her remaining HS and club seasons.  With that said, she and her Mother and I are pragmatic about her volleyball goals.  She certainly does not have D-I talent and could not attract the attention of decent D-II schools.  

I have read your book and the advice in it is quite good.  However, it seems geared more towards D-I and D-II prospects.  My perception is that D-III is a different animal, but I just don’t know enough about it.  I would welcome your opinion.  Does a girl with my daughter’s background, experience and talent have a realistic opportunity to play for a D-III school that matches her academic goals?  We would never discourage our daughter’s dream of playing beyond HS, but we don’t want to encourage it either if it isn’t realistic. 

You can share this and your response on you blog.  I can’t be the only volleyball parent with this question.  Thank you for your time. 

Alan – a volleyball dad

Thank you for your email and purchasing Inside College Volleyball - the perfect companion when spending all weekend inside a gym!

By the complete description of your PSA, I would say she is perfect for the NCAA Division III category.  DIII offers a wide range of physical statures and varying academic/athletic demands, but in general, the players tend to be smaller than DI/DII and more intellectual in their volleyball, not too mention school.

A 5'8" all around Outside Hitter with a strong work ethic will do very well at the DIII level and enjoy a great volleyball experience.

I encourage you to pursue that level, especially if you have the financial means as to not 'need' the assistance of an athletic scholarship.  For those families which would need the support of an athletic scholarship, then I would have them target those DII or NAIA programs which enjoy a great academic reputation.  

With DIII, one item to be aware of, is the early application/review policies of some of the more elite schools.  Because of the academic standings, some DIII's will have a firm application deadline which can be surprisingly early.  Sometimes families will come to the conclusion that NCAA DIII is the best level for their daughter, but do so later in the senior year and many DIII's have closed their application acceptance period!

Good luck and move forward with confidence in the DIII arena!


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