My daughter is a Junior in High School. She has played on the top team for a club for 3 years now, and has played her Soph and Junior year as a starter on her High School Varsity team. She is a 5'3" Libero. Her club forwarded us an email in May from a D1 college that was offereing her a 2 year scholarship but not starting until her Junior and Senior year of college because for whatever reason, that is what they had. She has been in contact with the coach since then. She attended their camp in July and we just got back from an unofficial visit and it was great! We loved everything about the University from the girls on the team to the coaches, housing, classes, campus etc etc. My daughter really wants to go there and I can see her fit in there perfectly, however, I am worried about not getting a scholarship till she is an upperclassman. Not because it's about the money, but I am worried that there is no guarantee. The coach said we had to take their promise and word for it. That she has a spot her Frosh and Soph year and full ride her Junior and Senior year.
Does this scenario happen often? Do I believe them? Do we go for it and pray that it works out the way they say it will? I understand she can't even sign a NLI until she is going into her Junior year of college. So does that make her a walk-on for her first 2 years?
Thank you in advance for any advice that you have!
Quick answers to your questions; Yes. Mostly. Possibly. Yes. Hope that helps!!!
OK - Now for the multiple word answers.
What you are trying to understand and manage is the current recruiting protocol with Liberos/Defensive Specialists in NCAA Division I Volleyball. There is such an abundance of talent in this position, that college coaches can obtain quality players without having to present initial athletic scholarships. It is now common place for DI programs to have their back row players walk-on for a year or three, with the promise of a future scholarship.
As you realized, this promise is nothing but words and you would be taking a leap of faith to accept. Not only faith that a coach will honor their word, but also that the coach would still be there 4 years from now (taking into account your daughter's current Junior in high school status).
Because of this change in how back row players are recruited, they need to manage the process a bit differently than the other positions; almost a 'bird in the hand' mentality.
It sounds like your daughter enjoyed her visit and you felt comfortable with the school as parents? It seems to me, that the biggest questions is, can you afford the send your daughter to this school for 2 years, and worst case scenario, 4 years? If the answer is YES, then move forward to accept the scholarship offer. If the answer is NO, then continue with the recruiting process to find a better package for your daughter.
As she would not be receiving an athletic scholarship, she would be a 'walk-on' student-athlete for her first 2 years. But, she is eligible to obtain academic, merit and need based scholarship support until she begins her athletic scholarship. The academic scholarship would be the best opportunity for a large award. All non-athletic scholarships can and should be explained to you by the school's admissions department.
Two closing comments:
1) The higher her gpa and most importantly, ACT/SAT test scores, the larger her academic scholarship. She should be preparing for the SAT/ACT tests and taking them multiple times to increase her score.
2) She still needs to perform on the volleyball court; the promise of the coach will disappear if she arrives to college and plays poorly. She has to understand that she still will need to earn her Junior year scholarship by performing at a high level her first two seasons. This scenario is just not applicable to her, any DI players has to perform or they will be cut.
By what you have expressed to me, and the direct information you are receiving from the DI coach, you have a quality opportunity which is normal for today's back row player.