March 23, 2017

Early College Volleyball Recruiting Question

Hello Coach,

Thank you so much for the blog!  I really enjoy reading all the questions, and it has been very helpful as I get started on my recruiting.

As a freshman, I am just starting to research colleges and send out emails to coaches.  I know the rules say they cannot email back when I am a freshman, but my club coaches say that we are supposed to be doing that regularly now. 

I play on a top team that has been to JO's twice as 13's and 14's.  I run a 5:1 offense, and we generally play in 3-4 out of state tournaments and 4 qualifiers a year.  I am a starting setter on my school's varsity squad, playing six rotations and received many post-season awards.  I have an NCSA profile and have registered for the NCAA Clearinghouse.

From reading your blog, I see that hitters are recruited first.  I have several very good OH's on my team, so my setting is currently doing wonders for their recruiting because they are getting lots of attention already.  :)

Can I assume that these coaches may also notice my playing even though I did not reach out to them in an email before a tournament?  Should I email them after a tournament if I see them watching our court?  

I get the feeling that these emails I send are probably just getting deleted or ignored, but I don't want to NOT send them if it actually helps.  What is the chance that they are actually being read?  How many emails does a coach get in a day/week from girls wanting to play?

Like I said, our club coaches want us emailing and contacting college coaches, but without answers I feel like I'm just creating 'spam.'

My goal is to play D1, and my coaches say that I'll be playing at that level somewhere in the mid D1 range.  Currently I have two D1 coaches that have spent time at my tournaments watching, asked me to text them regular updates (of course they can't respond yet) but we communicate with visits to campus or via emails through my club coach. Either of these would be good options for me.  I have no idea what other options may be out there, so I do want to do what I'm supposed to do to get the right people looking on my court.

Also, as we follow teams online, it is obvious that a college coach employed at a school today is unlikely to be the same volleyball coach at a university through my entire high school and college career.  I am not sure emailing a coach now is going to connect with the coach that will be there when I arrive in 2020, let alone when I graduate college.


Setter Looking for Answers

Thank you for your email and my complements on how you are managing the recruiting process so well, especially as a freshman.

By your feedback, it seems as if you are playing with a club that is focused on the recruiting process for its players, with pertinent instructions and acting as the communication vehicle.  Your example can answer the question that many families have - "how do freshman get recruited by college volleyball programs?" - college coaches use the club program to communicate and then get the family onto their campus.

Your last paragraph gives validity to my long standing and often written phrase, Freshman Free and Sophomore Slow.  There are so many annual changes to the college volleyball coaching landscape, that the odds of a recruit actually playing their entire college career for a coach are marginal.  Just look at Stanford and Illinois - Stanford wins the NCAA National Championship with 4 freshman on the court and then head coach retires!  I bet in early December zero Illinois players thought they would not have their current head coach come March, but he took the Stanford job.

Unless you are a top flight recruit, and by that I mean tall and physically advanced, I am not supportive of a large scale freshman outreach. Honestly, if you are a top flight recruit, you don't need to reach out because those hyper competitive elite programs will find you.  

Shooting out a couple of emails to your dream schools, fine, but the most important thing a family can be doing as freshman is this; the player needs to focus on improving skill sets and the parents need to focus on educating themselves about the process (rules, timing, trends, communication, academic/geographic/social preferences, etc).

With the current NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball recruiting rules, college coaches can only send you one letter/questionnaire (and a camp brochure) when you write them or they see you at a tournament, as a freshman or sophomore.  Because of this, I suggest freshman just play and see what the email inbox or old school mail box brings your way.  Since you are playing on a club which travels nationally and competes in the Championship, this should give you some valuable feedback about college volleyball recruiting as you head into your sophomore year.

January of your Sophomore year, is when I suggest you start an active outreach to those college programs which best fit your goals (volleyball and academics), with the understanding that there is still a lot of time on the recruiting clock and not to panic.  Don't get caught up in your attackers committing or so and so setter from another club committing; work through the evaluation and communication process, while always improving your skill sets.

I will close with these thoughts (which are the best ever thoughts about college volleyball recruiting you will ever read/hear/experience) - Stay focused on improving your skill sets, don't get caught up in the early recruiting cycle pressure, step away from the active outreach toward college programs for the remainder of the year to just enjoy playing volleyball, and let new email/letters from college programs serve as an evaluation tool as you finish out the club volleyball season and transition into your sophomore year.    As a sophomore, engage in an active outreach to new schools, while continuing communication with current interesting schools, so you can provide yourself the valuable opportunity of choice.


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