My daughter is a 15 year old 5’11 left-handed hitter. She has played club for 6 years, her team placing 3rd at AAU nationals twice, once at 13s and once at 15s. Last year they also finished with a 6th place national ranking. She is a 2 year HS varsity starter with the team placing 3rd in state last year and competing in highly competitive out of state tournaments.
In club, she has always been pegged as a true RS but her HS coach has utilized her as both OH and RS and she got an opportunity to earn a serving rotation this year. She was not chosen for the 1s team for club this year. The club director has presented her with an opportunity to further develop as an OH/6 position player on the 2s team. She is planning to use the season wisely to not only improve skill-wise but also to take advantage of the leadership opportunity but is somewhat concerned about the level of competitiveness on her new team. A
s far as I know there are only 2 players who intend to play at the college level. With this being a really big recruiting year, how does she address the move to a lower team when sending out profiles this year? Do recruiters really look at teams other than 1s and what criteria do they use to evaluate a player in that group?
15's can be important year for a select few athletes, but not the critical year for the vast majority - The freshman year is really only 'critical' for those players which are monsters physically and emotionally mature. These are players which have the physical attributes to be projected as NCSA Division I top 30 program recruits, and hopefully have the maturity to understand the enormity of their decision.
My belief is the important year is 16's, but even making that statement is not completely comfortable - Each athlete will have their own timetable for determining when they are ready to commit to a program, because much of that commitment is understanding their volleyball physicality, while sorting through all their future academic/social/geographic collegiate desires. For some players, April of their Senior year is critical, while for others it will be January of their Junior year.
For the most part, I agree with your club coaches yet there is one small left thing which concerns me….your daughter is left handed. Left handed outside hitters (traditionally players who hit dominantly on the left side of the court) are rare, and rarely seen in the collegiate ranks. Not to say that they will not be successful, but all too many collegiate coaches won't think outside the box……Left handed players play opposite, short players are DS's and Middles must be 8 feet tall.
At this age (please do not accelerate her timing….please let her just be a freshman volleyball player…..don't invite the vampire into your house), developing her all around skill sets will only help her down the road. While collegiate volleyball (starting with club volleyball) has become a game of specialization, college coaches will rate a hitter who can pass and play defense, over a hitter who just attacks/blocks. With anything in life, the earlier you learn a skill, the better you will be at it (hence while my golf game is as bad as it is…).
Have your daughter use this freshman year as an opportunity to develop her skill sets, develop her leadership ability, have some fun and play volleyball. If you have read this site for long, or listed to any of my NCSA Athletic Recruiting webinars (which are free), you will know my mantra; Freshman Free, Sophomore Slow!!!
Keep this freshman year free for her, but as parents, please keep educating yourself about the constantly changing college volleyball recruiting landscape!
PS - I purposely did not answer your questions about recruiting efforts simply because the Freshman Year has to be free.