I have read your blog and would like your opinion on the best way to handle my daughters future. She is 12 years old and over 6 ft tall. She has played volleyball for three years and this year will be going to nationals with her current club team. She loves the sport and the current team she is on but we do not have the financial resources to support her at this level of a club team( $8,000 this year).
She thinks she would like to play in College but she is 12... So we can make sure and give her every opportunity we can I have a few questions.
At what age do the college coaches start looking at the girls?
Would it affect her negatively if she is not on one of the best teams in our region?
What is your recommendation as to when we should start making sure she gets to several "major" tournaments?
Anything else we should think about?
Thanks for your feedback. We have one who is playing basketball in college but it was not so costly, political or time consuming as volleyball is.
Thank you for your email - At your daughter's age, the most important focus is skill development. Not travel, not tournaments, not the club team name, not the facility; is she receiving the coaching/training to improve?
Some big name club teams which go to the National Qualifiers, may not have very good coaching/training. Conversely, there are no-name clubs, which do a great job of improving player's skill sets. The same can be said about college camps; some trade on their name while others provide fantastic training even though you have never heard of their school.
Make training your focus, while keeping an eye on costs. Select a club program which does not travel outside of your region; these tend to be called Regional Clubs or regional teams. They would still practice a few days a week and play in tournaments, but they are not going to be flying anywhere and playing in too many 3 day tournaments.
To this end, start visiting other clubs now, so you can see how they train, can see the coaching staff in action, etc.
As to your questions:
- College coaches start evaluating recruits in high school, unless they are physically advanced and tall, in which case the power conference programs will evaluate Junior high age players. Most colleges (remember there are over 1600 schools, and only a hand full of the are powers conference members), will evaluate players as sophomores to juniors, and start recruitment as juniors to seniors. This is a broad statement, but giving an exact per category/division/school is a challenge.
- As a 12 year old, her club team will absolutely not matter to college coaches. As she matriculates through high school, then the travel schedule of the club team would matter to the college coaches because those clubs which attend the national qualifiers or large holiday tournaments, with their 16's and older club teams, make it easy for college coaches to recruit them (most colleges have limited budgets so easier to spend their recruiting dollar at a large event to see hundreds of talented players).
- For her Sophomore year in high school, it would be good to have her attending the large events (a national qualifier and/or a holiday tournament). It is not the end of the world, if she has to wait until her Junior year to attend, as colleges are always recruiting and the landscape of scholarships/roster spots is fluid.
In closing, to keep the financial burden manageable, please shift your daughter to a regional team with quality training until she gets into high school!