April 17, 2017

Power Conference Walk On

Hey Coach!

I am a 5'11" outside that has played varsity since freshmen year as well as played at a national club for around 7 years. I also am very well-rounded with involvement in my school and community and get very good grades with a 31 ACT score. 

A certain power conference program is my dream school, which I have known my entire life. I don't believe I am a strong enough outside for the D1 level (I have gotten a few D2 looks and numerous D3 offers), so I am trying to make it as a DS or libero. 

I emailed one of the assistant coaches at my dream school, who told me that I was a talented player but due to lack of scholarships that I could potentially walk on and that she would come to an upcoming tournament to watch me. She also said that I should keep her updated on my progress. I have done so, emailing her a few times with updates on outcomes of tournaments and what I was currently focusing on to make myself a better player. She hasn't responded to any of these emails. It has been about a month since I last got an email. 

I am a junior in high school and graduate in 2018. Should I be worried? I am very determined to attend this school but there is only so much I can do on the communication side of things without feeling like I am overbearing/annoying to coaches. 

I guess what I am asking is, based on this information, what do you think I need to do in order to increase my chances of walking on to my dream school?

Thanks for your time,


The bottom line for any college program when it comes to recruiting is, can you make their team better?  While scholarship players have greater expectations put upon them by the coaches, the walk on players will also have responsibilities.  From this point of view,  incoming players (scholarship or walk on) make the team better by having the skill sets to raise the total level of play or have the immediate potential to raise the total level of play.

Specific to your situation, UW would support you walking on, if you are better than their current walk ons or possible incoming walk ons.  If you do not raise the level of program talent, then they will not extend this opportunity.

This is what makes a walk on position precarious within the power conference programs; each year there will be very talented players willing to walk on to the team and current walk ons do not have the 'protection' of a scholarship to hold their roster spot.

A big positive you have, is your 31 ACT score.  As noted above, walk ons need to make the program better and volleyball teams are judged on their academic standing by the athletic directors.  If two potential walk ons are exactly even in ability but one has a 20 ACT and one has a 31 ACT...which one gets the golden ticket?

With regards to the lack of recent communication from the assistant coach, this could be the result of two area, 1) this time of the DI year is even more busy than the regulars season, as the college coaches are in their full spring training segment with weekend tournaments and recruiting as often as they can with travel to club tournament along with hosting visits (in addition to having to run a sand volleyball program if the school sponsors it); 2) the assistant/program is no longer interested in you as a potential walk on and instead of saying so, they have gone silent.

I am not sure the timing employed by power conference programs when it comes to deciding about true walk on players, as opposed to 'walk on to scholarship' players?  When I coached DI, granted at the mid-major level, we did not set our walk on roster until spring of their senior year.  Power conference DI's may have an earlier timing protocol, but I would still think even theirs leans towards the senior year because the collegiate roster can easily change year to year beyond what a head coach may anticipate.

As you noted, there is only so much you can do....But, here are my suggestions:

1) Determine if you are all in for UW, meaning that you are going to school there no matter if the volleyball team accepts you or not?  

2) If you still want to play volleyball, should UW not extend a walk on, then you should be engaging in the outreach process to a variety of programs which best suit your academic and athletic goals.  With your height and talent, you should have the luxury of choice.

3) Get better - As simple and frustrating as this sounds, your talent will determine your opportunity.  Whether it is passing, blocking, fitness, quickness, attitude, effort, etc., there is always a way to get better.

4)  Stay consistent in your communication with UW, until told no.  Often the walk on candidate who perseveres is successful.  Email them will current video once a month, in a update status, so you stay in their view without being in their face.

5)  Ask to take an unofficial visit towards the end of April; UW may be the bees knees but you still need to meet the staff, watch practice, engage with the players, see the facilities, etc.  You want to make sure you are doing your due diligence, so the wanting is not better than the having.

Good luck!

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