I wanted to ask how to go about asking a college coach about their transfers/players that quit their team.
A school I am interested in has one senior and no juniors this year, although they had many players on past rosters that should be juniors and seniors now. Understandably, this is somewhat of a red flag to me and I want to know what happened before I get too interested in the program, but I don't know how to politely ask the coach. It’s possible that some got injured or things came up, but it’s just information I want to know.
How should I bring this up with the coach?
College volleyball roster turnover is a valid concern for recruits but it can be difficult to get clear answer. From my experience as a head coach, the most common reasons for gaps in the player roster are:
1. Residual effect from a coaching change - When a new coach is hired, there is usually some type of immediate player attrition either by the coach cutting a player or a player leaving the team of their own accord. This won't show up immediately in the roster and may take a year or so to become clear to the outside.
2. Playing time - We are seeing more transfers, and thus different class sizes, because of players not being satisfied with their playing time. Because of the ease of transferring, the collegiate volleyball grass is always greener on another team!
3. Injuries - These season changing injuries (results in redshirt year) or career ending injuries can occur over the course a few years which will result in a Junior or Senior class being thin or empty
4. Academics - Players become ineligible and have to redshirt, or they leave the program and/or school.
5. Craziness - Some coaches or players are just a bit crazy and the stress of collegiate athletics will only magnify this craziness. Crazy coaches tend to have high player turnover and crazy players tend to leave (either by choice or by being cut) a program.
6. Player Life - College is a transformative time in any young person's life. As a result, players may realize that their current athletic life, is not the best path for them. Academic preferences, romantic relationships, family, travel desires, life in the community; all of these examples are not a negative or positive reflection upon the volleyball program or coach - sometimes life is best lived outside of collegiate athletics.
With the average volleyball class being from 2 to 5 players, all it takes is a few of the above examples over the course of a couple of years to result in an empty or 1 person roster class.
Recruit families should be the most concerned about #5, because you can't fix crazy and to manage crazy is not worth the current and residual stress.
The best way to ask the coach is to ask the coach - "We noticed that there are no Juniors and only 1 senior listed on the roster. Could you update us how that came to be?".........and then, listen to the answer. The college coach should be able to illustrate exactly, without judgment or blame, how the current player roster came to be. Make sure you have a parent or another person listening to the coach explanation, as a second set of ears will be able to pick up nuances which you may not hear.