April 2, 2020

ACL Injury and Volleyball Recruiting

Dear Coach,

My daughter is a high school junior, and she was on a huge rise as a setter in her volleyball world.   She has been a 3 sport athlete for at least 8 years, with basketball being one of the sports.  She tore her ACL this month during a basketball game, and will be out the entire national elite volleyball club season where she was going to shine bright and already had many college contacts.   She had already been in contact with college coaches prior to the injury, and she had given her schedule to a few that requested it.   ACL recovery takes months, and she will likely be recovered just in time to start her senior year HS volleyball season.   She is a very talented athlete and many of her coaches are talking about her amazing comeback and she shouldn't worry about this setback because she will definitely get recruited.  I have sat quietly in the background thinking that it probably isn't really a possibility for her any more, and they are just trying to make her feel better.   I am completely new to this whole college recruiting process, so in your experience, is it a possibility for her to get noticed her senior year?  Do colleges want an athlete that has gone through ACL surgery?  Does she need to contact the coaches that she already gave schedules to and let them know about this injury?  Obviously, she will be on the sideline for the season, so they will not be able to see her in action.

I know if anyone can do it, it would be my daughter, but I don't want her to be set up for a huge disappointment.   She truly is a super athlete, making varsity for all 3 sports she plays as a freshman (in a school with ~2500 students), she has a 4.1 GPA, so her academics are excellent too.   I am just worried for her, as she has spent her entire life in the sports arena.   She trains hard, and is a force on the court.  Opposing team coaches seek her out after matches all the time to give her accolades. She knows this was the important national club season, so she is devastated to miss it.  I pray for her to still be able to accomplish her dream, I just don't want her to set an impossible goal.  

Any advice you could give would be so welcoming!

Thank you,

Hopeful Volleyball Mom

In a nutshell, she will still have many recruiting options post rehabilitation.  Injuries can be an overwhelming situation for players and parents, but it will be 'all good'...
  • I believe the current generation of parents, for high school age players, are the last one which viewed injuries as career ending when we were in high school.  I can distinctly remember very good athletes, popping their ACL and their athletic days being done. This is one reason (before concussions) that so many parents did not let their son's play football (mine included and I am very thankful they did not let me play).
  • Sports surgery and rehabilitation is amazing today, especially for ACL injuries - Almost every sport will be at risk for ACL injures with football and soccer standing out.  When I look at how quickly people, especially young athletes, are able to get functional after an ACL surgery, it is unreal - They have the athletes doing rehab while they are still waking up from the surgery.
  • If an athlete stays focused on the rehabilitation, then ACL injuries just cost a season, but can have no long term affect upon their high school, collegiate and/or professional career. 
  • And, with the current uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, if the volleyball gods said you had to miss one club season, this is the one to miss.
  • Her senior year of club volleyball will be important; notice that I didn't say Senior year of high school volleyball.  Limit high school volleyball to ensure that she is 100% full go for her last club season.
  • College recruiting for Juniors can go 'quiet' in the late spring and summer - This is a result of college coaches playing possum with the recruiting process; they don't necessarily want to offer that last scholarship to a Junior in May, because they don't know what college transfer may come available or an athlete coming back from injury or an international player pops up.
  • The late fall of the senior season is when college volleyball recruiting ramps back up big time and I feel this year, it will be more pronounced than ever.  College coaches are always looking for senior athletes, so those senior players which have talent will have great choices!
  • Don't spread the news about the ACL injury - If a college coach asks why you are not playing, then be honest.  No reason to focus on a negative though; better to step back from outreach/communication and then when she is entering her senior year of club volleyball, to reengage actively in the recruiting process.
The key to her college volleyball opportunities is her rehabilitation and recovery from the ACL surgery.  Right now, that should be her primary and steady focus.  Rehab will have good days and bad days, but it is a steady march towards regaining athleticism.  If she does the work now, then she will have the opportunities her senior year.

Good luck and stay focused!

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