May 26, 2014

Injury and Managing the Recruiting Process

Hi Coach,

Thank you for your providing a forum where  parents and athletes can  find answers and comfort in a safe and sane environment away from the craziness of tournaments! I can’t begin to thank you for  the book that has been show cased on our  coffee table for two years now!  Your book and the website has guided my family through the maze but I have run into a dead end of sorts. 

My daughter is a 5’9” OPP/DS  junior for her club team and plays OH for high school . We have been around too long to be foolish enough to believe that she will be recruited as an OH or OPP given her height. She is an excellent passer and she has told the schools she’s interested in, she will play wherever they need her. We feel her best chance is DS or L because of her passing abilities. Knowing that these positions are recruited later might provide us with the time she needs to heal and rehabilitate.

She was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the back and will need  to be off for 10 weeks for rehabilitation. Given the timeframe, it is doubtful she will return before the end of club season. I am hoping this isn’t an injury that scares college coaches? What would your advice be on where we go from here? Should she disappear from the radar and restart the process next club season when she’s a senior or is that too late?  What do we or don’t we say to schools that have expressed interest? Some schools were planning on watching her play at this juncture in the season and not knowing what to say or not say is a daunting feeling. If she were to disappear from the radar, that means not traveling to the tournaments as well or it will be apparent she’s injured. Your thoughts on how we proceed from here would be very much appreciated.

Thank you,
Confused & Worried VB Mom

The short answer to your question is to disappear from recruiting/volleyball until she is completely and without a doubt healed (pain free/mentally free).  

From a recruiting perspective, better to just say she has a stress fracture (no need to elaborate further) and the family has decided to focus on rehabilitation versus playing.  Then, completely focus on resting and healing.  Don't travel to tournaments and sit on the bench because coaches will look at think "what is wrong with her"? I would not even continue with club volleyball practice or going to gym for club; get healthy and many times stress fractures just need complete non athletic activity.

Out of sight and out of mind is the way to go.  Plus, and this is a big plus; let her enjoy being a high school kid - maybe she can do something she has not been able to do because of club volleyball?  Like join the theator club, go on science field trips, mentor junior high kids after school?  Take this as a unique opportunity to do something else for a spell.

She will be in an excellent position next year as a senior - This is because the recruiting process never ends for collegiate programs and there is so much turnover in rosters (because of players getting cut, quitting and coaches getting fired or quitting) that there are always a ton of senior opportunities.  

Let me say, that 5'9" is not too short for lower DI or any level of DII - If she has good skill sets and is athletic, she can easily play those positions.  Better for her to promote herself as a ball control Outside, than one of 10,000 Liberos/DS's.  I can't emphasize that enough; next year, lower DI's and all DII (and NAIA's) will be searching long and hard for OH's that can pass and attack and are willing to give up inches for ball control and talent.  

Just make sure that late November, start reaching out to any and every school which fits your daughter's (and family) comfort zone - Do a massive reach out because the worst thing that happens is the college coach hits the delete button.  But, again, I know from experience, colleges will be ramping up their recruiting efforts late November because their collegiate season is done, and they know who they will be cutting or who did not recover from an injury, etc.

Hang in there - Better VB days ahead, but possibly great non-VB days immediately!

Coach Sonnichsen


  1. AnonymousMay 28, 2014

    Went to a 18s Regional tournament recently. So many coaches there, and I had to ask why??? Having seen with my own eyes supports what the Coach says.. college coaches are always recruiting. Some were lower D1s, D2s and NAIA, and a few upper D1s, but definitely an abundance seen on all the courts looking for the gem. It gave me hope because my DD is an undersized but very athletic player who played up for a missing player on her club's 18s team, and got some interested looks. Have faith in your DD's ability. Coming off a rest period, she will likely show renewed zeal and energy in her efforts on the court.

  2. Great affirmation of what I write about - VolleyFamilies, I speak the VB Recruiting Truth!!!

  3. I completely agree with Coach Sonnichsen on promoting your daughter as a ball control OH. My daughter is a 5'8" OH who got a full-ride at a D1 school that regularly finishes in the top 75. There are schools that appreciate an all-around player and want to go fast. My daughter found a perfect fit (I think, since she doesn't report until summer) of a school that appreciates and actually looks for that kind of athlete. It can be done.


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