June 22, 2015

NCAA Division III Volleyball Recruiting


Our daughter loves volleyball. She is sixteen and just completed her junior year. Following her sophomore high school season she decided she wants to play in college and concluded that she has the ability to do so. At that point, we found your website and purchased your book. The book is terrific. However, it seems oriented more towards DI and DII PSAs. Our daughter could probably make a DII squad at some of the many DII schools in our region (Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia). But we want her to focus on DIII schools for academic reasons and she agrees. Her plan is to attend a good liberal arts college, then go to law school.

Before we get to our questions, it might be helpful for you to know a bit about our daughter and her recruiting efforts. She has three years of varsity experience and has played on club teams for 4 seasons. This past winter/spring she played for her Club’s 18s team. She is 5’8”, weigh 120 pounds and has a 7’4½” standing reach (long arms). Aside from playing MH on her 15s club team, she has been an OH and a DS (mostly middle back). She is a very good student. She attends a private prep school that offers a challenging curriculum. She has a 3.85 GPA and earned a 1220 (math and critical reading) and a 1900 (math, critical reading and writing) on the SAT.
Our daughter has completed recruiting questionnaires for all of the colleges in which she has an interest. Throughout her junior year we visited 8 colleges that are on her list of possibles. We have just a few more to visit to make. We met with the head volleyball coach during each of these visits. Prior to or during each of these meetings, our daughter sent/gave the coach a one page flier describing her volleyball and academic experience. Most of these coaches asked for game film from the 2014-2015 club season. She chose appropriate footage and sent it to the coaches during the last week of May. She sent her club team’s schedule to all of the coaches on her list. We didn’t really expect coaches to come to regional tournaments to watch a PSA about whom they knew very little.
Nevertheless, we know that one school (we’ll call it School No.5 – because it’s 5th on her list) sent an assistant coach to a tournament in March. He watched her play in 2 matches.  The assistant coach for School No. 5 sent our daughter several e-mails in April and May and called to speak with her twice.
The head coach for School No. 2 invited our daughter, via e-mail, to a “get acquainted visit” this month. According to the invitation, the purpose of the visit is to meet current and other prospective players. Unfortunately, she can’t attend because she will be attending Girls State that week. During our visit to School No. 2, the head coach suggested that our daughter attend her summer volleyball camp, so that she can watch her play and see her interact with current players and other PSAs. It’s a good camp and the school is number 2 on her list, so she’s going to attend.
Our daughter and the head coach for School No. 1 really hit it off during our visit to the campus two weeks ago. She said she wants to visit our daughter’s high school during the varsity volleyball season. The coach also asked our daughter to schedule an overnight visit in the fall (it sounds like an “official visit” to us, but what do we know).
She also developed a rapport with the coach at School No. 4, who just completed her inaugural season. They met twice (once during our campus visit, and again following a match we attended when her team played near our home). In spite of this rapport, there has been no follow-up contact from the coach. We don’t think it can be a lack of interest. The coach doesn’t know enough about our daughter. It’s a mystery to us. We sent this coach video at the end of May.  We're hoping this sparks further contact.   
Finally, the head coach for School No. 3 was very interested in our girl. She sent him video (from her high school season) prior to their meeting. During our campus visit, he mistakenly thought she was a senior and was visibly disappointed when she told him she would not be available for the 2015 season. His team has really struggled for a number of years and he is desperate for credible players. We are leery of our daughter playing for a team that has struggled for so long, but she is interested in the school. It is highly regarded academically and she loves the campus and location.
We apologize for the lengthy background. The last thing you should know is that money is an object, but we are confident that we can afford to send our daughter to all of the schools on her list, given the merit scholarships she is likely to receive. So, here are our questions:
1.  What do we do now (June before senior year)? The target schools know who our daughter is. They have her volleyball and academic information. The coaches have met her. They have video. We’ve seen all of these teams play. In our view, she is talented enough to make their rosters, but not so awesome that they can’t live without her. We want to keep the ball rolling and we don’t want these coaches to forget about her.
2.  If it’s going to happen, when should our daughter expect a commitment from a DIII coach?
3.  How will we know if a coach isn’t truly interested in her as a volleyball player? All of the coaches we’ve met seem really nice, and they all have an obligation to try to keep kids interested in their employer. When is a DIII coach’s seeming interest more about attracting a kid to the school and less about recruiting a PSA? 
4.  A similar, but sufficiently distinct, question: how do we know if a DIII coach is truly interested?  These coaches have limited resouces.  Some of them are required to serves as ssistant coaches for other sports and/or teach.  A coach might be very interested, but too busy to keep up regular contact.  On the other hand, he/she might be uninterested.
Thanks Coach!

A. and B. (PSA Parents)

1. Take the SAT/ACT as often as possible because academics are your largest source of scholarship money. Apply to your top schools, so you can be in the queue for admission. Stay in contact with the coaches and be patient.

2.  Fall of Senior year to spring of Senior year - Each school and program have their own timing.

3.  When the coach offers a roster position.

4.  See answer to #3.

NCAA Division III recruiting is a much different animal than DI/II and NAIA.  The combination of recruiting rules, no athletic scholarships, wide variations in the academic standing of DIII schools, athletics as an enrollment driver, mandated squad sizes, part time coaches, "other duties as assigned" to a coach within in athletics department, etc.  This is why the DII category can be the toughest to advise a family.

If a family has come to the conclusion that NCAA Division III volleyball is the best fit, then the basic advice is: 1) get the best possible academic results to ensure admission to your choice of schools and maximum academic scholarship support, 2) Stay in contact with the college coaches, visit campuses, evaluate the opportunities, speak with admissions as much as the coaches, 3) Patiently manage the process because each DIII will have their own timetable which mandated by admissions/administration, as opposed to the athletic department.

With a DIII scenario, the academics/campus must be primary and athletics is significantly secondary; I know volleyball is fantastic, but high flying academic kids may not be able to play volleyball as upperclassmen if their academic regimen does not support such a time commitment.

By your background information, you are managing the process well but don't lose your focus.  Your daughter's opportunity will not be secured until her senior year, so right now focus on becoming a stronger student and a better volleyball player, while you continue to communicate with and reach out to DIII schools.


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