No club? No Worries - Managing College Volleyball Recruiting
Here is the dilemma. I have two young ladies who would like to play college volleyball. The first is 16, left handed MB and 6' 1/2" (has stopped growing) and geared athletically for more of D-3 and NAIA schools. The second daughter will be 14 in August, OH, MB right handed and 6'1" (still growing, growth plates not closed) and is geared athletically for top tier Div-1. (and no this isn't just a mom opinion, they have two older brothers who will be playing college basketball)
They attended their first skills camp at a local University the other day and at the close of each day, the head coach and the assistants were basically waiting at the door for me. They wanted to "talk" with me about the "future" of volleyball for my girls. They took video of the girls and their net play and sent it to all their college coach friends. They were shocked they had never had any formal instruction and wanted to know why they were not in club volleyball. Reason why, it is financially impossible for them to play club volleyball. They countered they will not get looked at by colleges and/or scholarships if they didn't play club.
So are they right about the scholarships and club? Or are there things I can do as a parent to make sure their names are out there? They both will be playing varsity high school volleyball this year. Unfortunately we live in the South, where the volleyball is not popular and not easily accessible. I haven't found an open gym yet.
Love a good Roof!
Mom of the "tall sisters"
I have written about families managing the recruiting process without club volleyball in Inside College Volleyball, and the book can be a good resource for you as any number of families are in your same situation.
Club volleyball has become the best pathway to gaining a collegiate roster spot and athletic scholarship support, but not the only avenue. Club Volleyball serves three purposes; 1) It increases player ability by allowing for a huge increase in the number of repetitions versus just playing high school volleyball, 2) It is a venue for being seen by collegiate coaches via tournaments, 3) It gives something for the grandparents to do on weekends.
For your older daughter, given the athletic/volleyball parameters you describe, not playing club won't hurt her very much during the recruiting process. She has good height, and if she has solid skill sets and a good attitude, she will have options within the DIII/NAIA ranks.
As for your younger daughter, this is where not playing club could negatively impact the level of DI she could gain a scholarship at....which is not necessarily a bad thing. If she played club, theoretically she could garner a scholarship from a Top 50 team. By not playing club, but having good height, skill sets and attitude, she could garner a scholarship from a Top 175 team.
If you have read my site, you will have learned that today's NCAA DI Volleyball world can be rather harsh. The top programs have huge time commitments, pressures and coaches don't hesitate to make roster changes if it is best for their professional future. Arguably every DI program has this same mentality, it will be less pronounced as you move away from the top programs.
Understanding your geographic and financial situation, you need to use technology to your advantage. First of all, make use of NCSA Athletic Recruiting (they have an outstanding free site, and their paid services are the best in the business and very reasonable considering your situation/goals). You need to market and promote your daughters via email and videos to the appropriate level collegiate programs. The bottom line is that college coaches recruit talent which will make their program better; no matter what, where, when and how that player's background may be.
In terms of developing talent when club is not available:
1) Maximize the high school season; show up early for practice, stay late, get in the gym when the gym is open. High school is your best opportunity for economical repetitions.
2) Summer sand volleyball - Even if you need to drive to get to courts, go find them. If you search, you can usually find a sand court somewhere to play.
3. Camps - Be very choosy about camps. The 'big school' camp is often times not any better than the small school or club camp, just has the bigger cost. Don't use camps as recruiting; I know you may question that based upon your earlier camp experience, but 2 college camps would pay for a career membership in NCAA Athletic Recruiting.
In closing, market and promote your daughters, while simultaneously maximizing repetitions!