August 24, 2017

College Volleyball Recruiting Management

Please allow me to inject my responses directly into your email below! (original email edited for clarity and privacy!).

Hi, Coach,

I enjoyed sitting in on your session at the Grand Rapids, MI combine in June.  Learned lots. 

​Thank you; I love speaking at Combines (both the AVCA and the Championship Combines events.  It is nice to have a dedicated speaking time to really share as much information as I can.
Now I have a few questions for you.  My daughter is a 6’ 2” sophomore (U15) MH.  You preached that one can never start too early promoting your child as a player, and that a person should get some good quality video together and out there as soon as possible to try and catch coaches’ attention.  

​Let me jump in here; I think what I said may have been misunderstood.  I believe it is never too early to educate yourself about the recruiting process.  If you have read through the ​website, you may remember "Freshman Free and Sophomore Slow".  Because of how important this decision is, and how the recruiting landscape changes, the parents must be educated as soon as possible.  I apologize if I was not clearer on this philosophy when I spoke!

That’s exactly what I did for my daughter.  Then when our club director learned I was sending out her video, I get a note from her saying, in part:  “She is an athlete with a ton of potential, … but she has some room to go at learning to play at a faster speed and higher level.… but the best advice I can give is that it’s not a great idea to call attention to her before she is “ready” … because then when anyone sees her based on a list or an email to a college coach they many only see what she is as opposed to what she can be.”

​As your daughter is 6'2" and a sophomore, you did do the right thing by getting her information and video out to college coaches.  The attack position (MB/OH/RS) recruiting is height driven; the taller the player, the more likely and applicable that 'early' recruiting is going to happen.  ​

I was kind of offended because I was following what you recommended and trust your opinion/experience more.  I mean which is it?  Does a person wait to send video until they’re a finished product (Is any high school kid ever?), or rather expect that qualified, experienced coaches will identify/recognize “potential” which they can mold?  While my daughter is admittedly young and raw and not playing against the highest competition here, she has already had many colleges of all sizes inquire about her since sending this video, so I think it’s having the intended effect. Would a D-I coach really judge a player based on her freshman video that she could never play for him/her?  This director makes it sound as though they’re not going to come back and peek again in 6 months or a year as the athlete develops and ramps up her competition. 

​College coaches recruit on potential, not the finished product because the player is not really finished until her upperclassmen years in college.  As you noted, you have enjoyed a positive response to the video which you promoted.  If a player is a bit raw, but has the desired height, then a college coach would put that player in their recruiting database with a note to see later on in the club season or ask for a current video in a few months.​

This is the same person who told me I should let my daughter handle sending all her own e-mails to coaches, even though she (my daughter) hardly checks her e-mail, much less keeps it organized and responds to appropriately.  She’s simply not mature enough yet to know the value and to care!  My response to the director was:  “I’ll eventually turn this over to her in the next year, but right now the stakes are too high to leave all this to a young adolescent.”  Do you agree?  Is the “parent-agent” model really frowned upon by college coaches?  I know that parents are consummately biased, but don’t coaches understand and just take the video and the measurables (verified by 3rd party) at face value?

​College recruiting and recruiting management is a financial situation​ (cost of club, cost of visits, scholarship offers, scholarship packages) and money is an adult issue.  I think that the marketing and promotion should be a joint venture between player and parent.  Emails are not the language of today's youth but they are the desired form of communication for college coaches (because of compliance and oversight considerations). A college coach will not want to communicate exclusively or mostly with a parent, but we understand that parents will be involved especially during the outreach.

Also, how important is it that she plays “national” level competition for her club?  While she was invited to do so last winter, we really can’t afford what it would cost our family financially, nor do we want her missing church and youth group every Sunday all winter.  It’s just not a price we are willing to pay as a family.  My daughter has already said she may not even want to play D-I (I know you are high on the D-II experience).  However, if she does decide she’d like to, is it impossible for a kid to get a D-I scholarship who hasn’t played national level club.  I know John Cook of my alma mater, Nebraska, has turned many relatively inexperienced players into great college players – some even All-Americans – presumably because he can recognize and mold raw talent.

​The bottom line in any recruiting situation, is does the recruit have the ability/potential to make the collegiate team better?  If so, then the coach will recruit the player.  If not, then the coach will not recruit the player.  

When it comes to club teams, I encourage VolleyFamilies to focus on training as opposed to competition.  While there are many great teams within an elite program, there are instances where a non-national level club will have a great training situation.  Not every national level team will have great coaches, simply because they may have to find 50+ coaches!  

As to your specific question, yes, Division I athletes can come from non national level club programs.  Again, it is all about talent combined with height/athleticism.

By the way, we created a profile for my daughter on NCSA.  Now that it’s supposedly been up and public for 3 weeks, the stats say it’s only gotten one profile review.  ONE!  Does that make any sense for a fairly athletic 6’ 2” sophomore-to-be?  It seems to me that something isn’t working.  I would love to get any thoughts you might have on that.  What can we do to increase traffic?  Admittedly, I’ve only done the free profile/service so far b/c we don’t have a lot of money, and I’m willing to do lots of the leg work myself.

​Specific to the NCSA profile, the Free Profile is "searchable" by college coaches but the free profiles are located on the lower page below the Premium Profile matches.  In addition, this is the slowest recruiting time segment for college coaches; they have been insanely focused on their current collegiate season since later July.  Many VolleyFamilies, especially rising Seniors, get panicky this time of year because of how quiet college coaches are; things will 'heat up' rapidly after Thanksgiving when college programs are addressing the recruiting needs which the season just exposed.

As you are comfortable putting in the work to market and promote your daughter, then use the NCSA Free Profile as the link you send to college coaches, which contains her collegiate stats and current video.​



P.S. I’m also making the “evaluation video” as you called it with a couple of complete sets to share even when she was not directly involved in the play.

​By my read of your email, it sounds as if you are doing everything correct - Just stay the course, stay patient during the next couple of months and then after Thanksgiving, have current video to send to college​ coaches in preparation for the traditional recruiting season!


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