May 29, 2014

The Business of College Volleyball Recruiting

Hi Coach,

We follow your website and have read your book and really feel your advice has helped us along the way of this long recruiting process for our daughter.  But, we have had a recent set-back, and are in need of some advice.

First the background:  Our daughter is a junior, 6 foot, Lefty, RS/OH.  We know that she probably a DII player and that is the level she would like to play.  She is very concious of selecting a school that has the academic programs she is interested in.   For the past year she has been sending videos, and emails to coaches asking them to see her play at national level tournaments and has had a good response.  She is now on a club team that she plays one set as RS and one set as OH, she is DSed for both.  On her high school team she plays OH, and she is also DSed so she does not play backrow in either arena.
At the end of her very successful high school season after seeing her videos as well as seeing her at a summer recruiting camp a DII school that would have fit her academic requirments invited her for a day visit with team.  At the end of the visit the head coach met with us and told us that they wanted her to come back this spring for an overnight with the team.  We also discussed our daughter's abilities and lack of passing experience and the head coach told us, that "as long as she can pound a ball, we will DS her, not a problem".
Since that visit she has had weekly communication through lengthy personal emails with the coach and last week before her first big tournament, he called and set up an overnight visit for next weekend.  He also started to text her, and call her to check in,etc... and was coming to watch her play day two of the tournament.
So her team is at the two day President's Tournament, their all around outside hitter injures her ankle during the second match on day one and is out for the rest of the weekend.  The club coach approached my daugther and asked is she would play OH and play all around as they needed her to step up in an effort to try to salvage the rest of tournament.  My daughter told the coach that she would but also said that was out of her comfort zone, but for the sake of the team she would do it. 
Well Saturday went great. With my daughter playing all around they won the next two matches and made it to gold. She passed very well, served awesome and hit great.  The college coach texted her asking how the day went and to get her court assignment for Sunday.  She told him that she was asked to play back row something she had not prepared for, but she wanted to do it to help out the team.
Now comes Sunday .  The college coach is courtside and they are playing the eventual tournament champions, a great team.  Long story short, my daughter struggled in the back row, as did their other DS players and they were blown out.  She got in a few good swings when she was in the front row, but the passing was so poor, that the sets were not there, etc...  she hung tough on the court and we thought played great defense at the net had great hussle, etc., but the team's showing was poor for that match.  The college coach left after that match. They ended up 7/24 for the tournament. She lead the team with 29 kills.
So last night her phone rings and it is the coach telling her that they are cancelling her visit and she is not at the level of the other players they are recruiting.   It was short and abrupt after over a year of correspondence and building a relationship. So our questions are these:
Did she make a mistake in stepping up when the team needed her, in all honesty her excellent play on Saturday helped to get them to the gold round, but the coach did not see that.  Or should she have just thought of herself and the fact that a college coach was coming to see her play and told them to have someone do it and just concentrated on her front row play?  Their other alternative players, both tall middles would have struggled even more than our daughter.
Was the school really serious about her, or looking for a way to cut the strings, but why set up the second visit?
What does she do at the next tournament in two weeks?  The injured player will not be back, does she play back row again, in front of other potential coaches?
What do we tell her?  Yes it would have been great if she would have been a passing machine and her team would have played at the level they could have with all players healthy, but that did not happen, it was just one of those situations.  She has three visits planned with other D2 schools over spring break so we have kept other options open as well as a couple NAIA schools that are interested.  She feels embarrased that she spent so much time getting to know this coach only to have it all cut off after a bad showing at one match at one tournament.   She has lost confidence and trust in the whole recruiting process.
I know this is long, but we would appreciate your honest response in how to proceed. Thanks.
Mrs. T.

Thank you for reading the site and for purchasing Inside College Volleyball!

Let me start off by saying, that a surprising percentage of college coaches are idiots.  As a former college coach, and someone who is 'in the know' and still around the recruiting environment, I am continually amazed by just how big of a knucklehead college coaches can be!!!

Best thing you can tell you daughter, and tell her that this is coming from the world famous College Volleyball Coach, is it is a blessing in disguise!  Just imagine this same scenario after a bad collegiate weekend of play (which every athlete has) and the college coach cuts her from the program; I can easily see the scenario happening based on what you told me.

Who knows why the college coach made that call?  Again, so many of college coaches are dunces and trying to understand a dunce is a huge waste of your time!

My feedback:

1. She absolutely did the right thing to step up and do what the team needed - That is what players of character do, they do what the team needs! If a coach cannot respect that, then that coach has their own issues.

2.  She is that much better having played all around; playing all around is awesome, playing three rotations would drive me bonkers!!!  It sounds like she excelled in the first day, so that is a great affirmation, especially her first time in a tournament environment doing this.

3.  College coaches shot gun recruit and the 2nd visit was set up because they probably set up 2nd visits for 20 players - It is a business and for whatever reason, they shut down the 2nd visit (again, blessing in disguise).

4.  Tell her to do her best in the next couple of weeks; better to pass and attack as an OH.  If she plays like she did on her 1st day, then she will get extra points as an OH who can pass.  If she struggles, like she did on Sunday, then she will be marked as an OH who should go front and back with a DS, which is exactly where she started the year - There is really only a positive upside!

5.  She should not be embarrassed, only thankful that she saw the true colors of that coach!  

6.  This is a good lesson for her and your family; as much as a personal rapport is developed, you must always, always, always remember that this is a business for college coaches.  

7.  Glad to hear you also have been in contact with other programs. Now, it is time for you to treat it as a business; start reaching out to many more programs, be businesslike in your review of the program, the coaches and the school - Apply the lesson you learned.

Tell your daughter to trust her skills sets and take full advantage of this no lose opportunity. 

Coach Sonnichsen 

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 30, 2014

    Another thought also - maybe your Daughter was not their top recruit, maybe she was the 'backup" recruit, or the 3rd in line recruit and someone they thought they wanted more than your daughter gave them the commitment they were looking for that weekend so there was no need for your daughter's visit anymore because they got the other player. If that was the case, you would think they would just say so but like Coach said - their are a lot of knucklehead coaches out there! I 'm with Coach - your daughter did the right thing - did what her team needed for her to do - which was do her best because they needed her there. Too many VB players out there think its all about them and what they want - its a team sport and you do what the team needs. He's also right, you are better off without a coach like that one! Good luck to your daughter as she finishes up club and starts her Senior high school season.


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