First, thank you for what you are doing!
We have a 15 year old (Sophomore in HS) daughter that plays volleyball. Great HS Stats and awards in varsity for her Freshman and sophomore year.
She has had some “interest" from a couple high (top 25) D1 schools, 1 out of state (hand written letter with a questionnaire), and 1 in-state (multiple emails to/through her HS coach).
She’s also had some some mid-level D1 schools emailing her HS coach, and when she has made phone contact with them they have said things like “You are at the top of our recruiting list for 2018” and “you are in our top group of recruits”.
She’s also had some high and mid level D2 schools that have expressed interest in her.
At a recent club qualifying tournament, a lot of coaches were watching her. Her team didn’t play very well, and she herself, didn’t play at her highest level either.
At the tournament, most of the D1 schools didn’t hang around too much to watch her (just a set to 2, some just a rotation)
One of the mid-level D2 coaches chatted with me and said, “please have her continue to email us, will be here quickly, then we can finally have a direct conversation with her, Honestly, she does have a lot of work to do on her foot-work though, but it’s great to see her playing against this type of competition, that will only help her” (Open div. club competition). Not sure how to take that.
Our daughter is concerned about being “crossed off the lists” of the D1 schools, after them seeing her not play her best.
What are your thoughts? Should she be calling the D1 schools and asking for feedback? Are her concerns about being crossed off lists legitimate, premature, or overblown?
She’s our oldest daughter, so we are very new to this whole thing, and aren’t quite sure what age she she should be before being concerned about being “offered”.
Thank you very much Coach!
Looking forward to your response.
Glad to help!
Your email actually illustrates many important points in today's recruiting process, beyond the questions which you have asked. These points will be important for other families to understand (and your family). As I have written about with Inside College Volleyball, families must come into the "now" of college volleyball recruiting because the days of sunshine and lemonade are long gone.
A few key points which I feel are worth illustrating:
- Email/Contact via High School/Club Coaches - This is how college coaches 'back-door' the recruiting contact rules. There are specific rules in place for contacting players, but there are no such rules with regards to interacting via the player's coach. When the college coach is limited, then they will work through the club/high school coach to interact with the player/family.
- Calling a College Coach - If a recruit has been specifically invited (told) to call a college coach, then that coach is going to make sure the recruit feels like it is her birthday; you are awesome, you played great, your hair looks fantastic and you only sweat dew drops. Families must take the initiative with the phone conversation to ask specific questions about the school, the program and the coach - This is how the family determines if this school is worth spending the money to make an unofficial visit (possibly in the future).
- College Coaches at a tournament - As a sophomore, unless the player is the absolute second coming of Kim Willoughby (the BEST player I EVER saw play college volleyball, period and end of discussion), the college coaches don't stay too long. They take a few minutes and then move on to watch the next person on their list of 346 kids to see that tournament. College coaches hang out (babysit) the super duper elite players, or the players they have offered a scholarship to. Absolutely do not read too much into a coach staying or not staying - Sometimes a coach will stay at a court because they are tired of evaluating and just want to hang out while they zone out pretending to watch a player.
- College Coach talking to you - This is a violation of NCAA rules. NCAA DII rules say that "off campus" contact can happen after June 15th of the player's sophomore year (the rule may have changed, because the NCAA changes rules all the time, but my understanding is this contact rule is still valid). As you daughter is a sophomore, this coach was breaking the rules. Other than a "hello" because you approached the coach or they walked into you, there cannot be conversation, especially the recruiting evaluation you received. But, as I have spoken about during my NCSA Athletic Recruiting talks, college coaches will bend/manipulate/break/oops the NCAA rules to gain an advantage, because the families are not sure what the rules are.
- College Coach evaluation - Referencing what the unnamed cheating DII coach said, never take what a coach says as gospel simply because there are a lot of college coaches who don't know what they heck they are talking about. We/They can get so into our little world of what skills work for us, or the latest coaching clinic put on by the national team coach of Iceland which says only your first two fingers of each hand should ever touch the ball setting, etc. If college coaches were infallible with player evaluations, then none of us would ever have a bad team on the floor.
- Sophomore year is the evaluation year for the majority of recruits - College coaches are seeing athletes and trying to determine their ability to make their collegiate team better. Again, unless you are a super stud with a ton of baby-sitters on your court, and those DI nannies are usually after the attackers, don't get too caught up on the 'crossed off' mentality - maybe she dropped a bit in the 'ranking' but the next tournament she can come back up in the ranking. For all families, it does emphasize the importance of being focused and playing to the top of your abilities each club event. That is a huge challenge when playing 10 matches a weekend, but it is the current state of college volleyball recruiting where a thousand players are going after 1 scholarship!
- I would not call college coaches asking for an evaluation because they will tend to not give you honest feedback, plus we are not in that business. This is what your club is for and if you are playing under coaches with a basic knowledge of the sport, then they have probably already told you exactly what you need to be doing to improve.
- Scholarship offer timing - From now until she graduates high school. I give this answer because there are a few variables; each program has its own timing protocol for offering a scholarship based upon their needs (which change week to week; a coaching friend of mine now MUST have a 2016 MB because his starter just got on a plane because she was homesick), setters tend to be recruited after attackers (but hey, at least you are before the Liberos!!!) and if your sophomore accepted scholarship offer college coach gets fired/quits before you sign your National Letter of Intent, then you will be scrambling for a Senior year scholarship offer.
The best advice I can give you now, is to control what you can control - Keep focusing on improving your volleyball skills, keep reaching out to new potential programs, and keep managing the recruiting process. Those families which are active and patient in the process are the ones which tend to have the best success.