I just found your website and am so grateful – what a great resource! Like so many of the volleyparents that find you, I’m beginning down the path of trying to help my daughter navigate the next stage of her volleyball life. The particulars are she’s 15, sophomore, setter, 5’8” (might grow another inch or so – wife and I both grew late), good hops (approach jump 9’6”), started as freshman and sophomore on a championship small school team in New England, playing national 16’s club as starting setter (just won their first tournament, yea!), national coach runs a 6-2 and often keeps her in to hit and block right side, and is a 4.0 student at a competitive private school. She’s athletic (varsity tennis as a freshman) but loves volleyball and would drop everything else in life to play more.
My situation is probably a little different in that I’ve had the very good fortune to not be focused on looking for a scholarship. I’m hoping her volleyball might make the difference in her getting into her top choice of schools. She definitely wants to play in college and I’m guessing walk-ons are one in a thousand type odds, so I figure the recruitment process is a must for her to get a good look.
My questions are these:
1. As we begin reaching out to the coaches from the schools she is interested in, do we even mention that we aren’t looking for a scholarship? I know budgets are tight, but I’m not sure discussing that up front will hurt or help?
2. Does anyone recruit from New England? Looking at the roster of the Yale volleyball team, they are almost all from California! How much of a hindrance is our geography and the perception of the level of play? Do New England players have a higher burden of proof? She’ll get some good national exposure this year at the club level, but I would love to hear your take.
3. How important are the summer camps? Which ones to focus on?
Thanks for all you that you’ve offered up so far and hope to hear more!
Not needing a scholarship definitely makes the process a bit more attainable in terms of securing an academically elite school but the bottom line for the college coach, is your daughter must make their program better. From DI to DIII, there are any number of volleyball programs which are also great schools; Stanford, Northwestern, Rice, William and Mary, Washington University, Vassar, U of Chicago, etc.
As your daughter is a setter and a sophomore (who is not 6'2"), your recruiting process will be a bit slower than a hitter position. Right now, focus on finding her comfort zone (academics, athletics and geography) and then start reaching out based upon this comfort zone. I would not use the Scholarship Not Needed card right now, because if she could obtain a scholarship, it actually gives her a bit more security on the team…..and you can use that money for a parent celebration vacation when she does go off to college.
The N.E. region of the country is not considered a prime recruiting area; college coaches are not annually scheduling trips to Boston to recruit, like they do to Dallas. Your geographic area is a hindrance and you will need to be focused in your outreach efforts and use of video demonstrate that your daughter is worth their recruiting review. If her club teams are playing in a few of the national qualifiers or JVA/AAU events, then this will help, especially of you are able to compete outside of the eastern seaboard. The key is the pre-tournament outreach in letting college coaches know she will be at MEQ's or LoneStar or AAU's.
Summer camps should not be viewed as recruiting opportunities first (or second or third). Summer camps are great for a volleyball vacation and can be great for improving skill sets, but for recruiting….it is a lot of money for one school to see you. Better to use that money and attend 5 combines this spring where she can get seen by hundreds of coaches. If she wants to spend time on a college campus, then take some unofficial visits. Also, summer camps are not reality…it is like Disneyland for volleyball; everybody is happy, everything looks great, it is fun, everybody laughs and there is fireworks at the end of the day.