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The College Recruiting Process | Written by Steve George
There are several levels of volleyball played in college:
- Division I-More than 300 schools: up to 12 scholarships.
- Division II-More than 250 schools: up to eight full scholarships.
- Division 111-Over 400 schools: no athletic scholarships.
- NAIA-Close to 300 schools: tuition only scholarships.
- Junior/Community College: California schools do not offer scholarships, while many outside California do have scholarship assistance available.
College coaches attend club tournaments to determine which athletes are capable of performing at the level of that particular institution. You enhance your opportunity to be seen by college coaches by sending a letter of introduction and possible a videotape to programs you are interested in.
When does this process begin? Today, many coaches observe players in their freshmen/sophomore year and make determinations at that early an age as to whether the player is someone the coach is interested in recruiting and offering a scholarship (see Jim Saari's article "The Pressure to Give a Verbal Commitment" on our website). In a player's junior year, college coaches scrutinize the athlete much more closely. College coaches also look for seniors who may have slipped through the cracks, or to fill a specific position on their college roster due to an injury, transfer, etc.
These days, many of the best sophomore and junior players orally commit to a college program immediately following the Volleyball Festival or the USA Junior National Championships. By rule, a college coach cannot official offer you a scholarship until the conclusion of your junior year, although an athlete can make a verbal commitment at any time. There is also an early signing period (written contract) in November, and a later signing period that falls in the spring.
What does a scholarship entail? A full scholarship includes tuition, room and board, books and all costs associated with participating on the volleyball team. Coaches can also offer partial scholarships, tuition only scholarships, or a promise that if you walk on and become a significant contributor you will be given a scholarship in the future.
Remember, scholarships are a one-year contract between you and the institution. They can be revoked or not renewed for various reasons.
How do I go about being recruited?
- Be sure to take advantage of a recruiting tool that many college subscribe to:
www.universityathlete.com. The service is free and is used extensively by college coaches to identify players and learn more about them, especially at tournaments.
- Register with the NCAA National Clearinghouse (www.ncaaclearinghouse.net). You register through your high school guidance counselor. A college coach cannot legally offer you a scholarship until you have registered on this site, which will contain information about your high school GPA and your college entrance exam scores (SAT and ACT).
- Take your college entrance exams early and, if necessary, often. No matter what your playing ability level, you must meet the entrance requirement for a particular college. Therefore, the higher your GPA and the better your SAT/ACT scores, the more opportunities for you.
- Identify colleges you may be interested in attending.
Determination should be based on three factors:
- Does the college meet your academic level/abilities?
- Do YOU meet the college's academic requirements?
- Athletic program
- Will you be able to compete?
- Is the team capable of playing at the level that will satisfy you?
- Will you be able to earn a significant amount of playing time?
- Is this the type of coach you will enjoy playing for?
- Is the college located in an area you will enjoy?
- Is the size and scope of the college going to fit your personality?
- In your sophomore year, but no later than your junior season, you should determine at least 20 schools that may fit your needs. Write a letter to the coach stating your interest (see example letter). For information about specific schools, go to www.collegiatedirectories.com, or to www.ncaa.org. There are also helpful links on our website.
IMPORTANT: When you get a response from a coach, immediately return any questionnaires he/she asks you to fill out. Be sure to enclose a thank you note.
- Attend a summer camp being offered at a college you are particularly interested in being recruited by. This will allow you time to connect with the coach on a personal level, and provide you an opportunity to showcase your talents to the coach.
- Create a video that will showcase your talents. Coaches DO NOT appreciate amateur-looking videos. They must be done in a way that is easy for the coach to assess your ability. NOTE: Most coaches will only watch about five minutes of a video before making up their mind about your ability!
- If you gain the interest of a particular coach, continue to send the coach updates on your playing experiences-news articles, tournament finishes, etc. By doing so, you will keep your name on their radar screen.
- Before attending a major tournament, email the coach to find out if someone from his or her program will be attending the event.
- You must market and sell yourself by keeping contact with the coach. Remember, there are hundreds of other girls who are also trying to get the attention of that coach.
Sources for more information:
How to Win a Sports Scholarship, Hastings, P., & Caven, T.D.
The Athletic Recruiting and Scholarship Guide, Mazzoni, W.
The Ultimate Recruitment Guide and Notebook, Kaplan, D.L.
Sample Letter to College Coach
January 1, 200X
Whatsa Matta U.
Coach Joe Schmo
Women's Volleyball Coach
555 Left Field Drive
Los Angeles, CA 93063
Dear Coach Schmo,
I am very interested in your university and volleyball program, and would appreciate any information you can send me in regards to your program, school, athletic scholarships and financial aid.
My name is Ima Biggin. I'm a junior in high school, currently playing with the Capital City Volleyball Club out of Carson City, Nevada. Our Club Director/Head Coach is Danny McLaughlin, our Technical Director is Steve George, and our Recruiting Coordinator is Jim Saari. You can find our more about our club at www.capitalcityvbc.com, including how to contact Danny, Steve, or Jim.
My personal stats are:
- VERTICAL JUMP:
- POSITION(S) PLAYED:
I have enclosed my (club/high school) schedule with the hope you will be able to watch our team play in the near future. I believe I have the ability to be a part of your team, and contribute to its future success.
Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
123 4th Street
Minden, NV 89700