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Recruiting

Academics

Before a college coach decides if he / she is going to recruit you, he / she looks at your GPA, core courses, and SAT/ACT scores to make sure you meet his / her school’s admission standards. If you are way below the minimum requirements, he / she will not waste his / her time recruiting you, regardless of how much you could help his team.

ATHLETIC SUGGESTIONS

At the risk of stating the obvious, your athletic ability is the most important factor in determining whether you will suit up in a college uniform. Never assume that you are finished learning as an athlete or that you know everything about your sport. You must constantly absorb information and strive to improve your ability.

I Must Be a Hot Recruit. Coaches Send Me Letters All the Time

I Must Be a Hot Recruit. Coaches Send Me Letters All the Time

Do not assume form letters in your mailbox mean that a coach considers you a prospect. Every high school athlete who expresses interest in a college team, regardless of his/her ability, will receive a letter and questionnaire in the mail asking for more information. In fact, some D-I schools may send out as many as 5,000 letters each year! Understand that this is only an initial request for information and, in most cases, an expected courtesy. While receiving questionnaires is a good initial sign, answer the following questions honestly:

•Do college coaches call me regularly?
•Is my mailbox overflowing with handwritten letters from coaches who want me to consider their schools?
•Are coaches coming to my house to meet with my parents and me?
•Do college coaches travel specifically to watch me compete?

If you’re one of the lucky few who can answer “yes” to more than one of the above questions, then consider yourself a Top Tier prospect. If you’re like most high school athletes, however, and you had to answer “no” to all of the questions, then you need to take a more active approach to your college search.

LESSON LEARNED: Receiving phone calls, personalized hand-written letters from college coaches, and requests for personal meetings is a much better indicator-rather than form letters and questionnaires-of how interested a coach is in recruiting you.

I Only Want to Compete For a High-Profile NCAA D-I Team.

If you only focus your search on the country’s top programs, you will be disappointed. Too many high school athletes think that programs like Penn State, Nebraska, Stanford, and other high-profile Tier 1 schools are the only respectable ones in the country. This cannot be further from the truth.

While many high school athletes dream of one day competing at a top NCAA Division I school, in reality, very few get the opportunity. According to our research, roughly two percent of all high school and junior college athletes who seek to compete at a D-I school will ever get the chance.

If you’ve just finished your junior year of high school, you’ll have a pretty good idea if you are talented enough to compete at that level. Top Tier athletes recruited by these nationally ranked schools are often:

All-State or All-American award recipients

Competing in the Open club division playing on an extremely competitive club program

Spotted early at USA Volleyball High Performance try-outs

Solicited with recruiting calls and letters from numerous coaches. Not just letters, but personal calls. Lots of people receive form letters.

Attract many college coaches to their matches

If you are not one of these rare Top Tier athletes, don’t worry there are plenty of options for you to still compete collegiality, get a great education, and enjoy this pinnacle part of your life. It is commonly thought that Division I programs are far better than D-II, D-III, NAIA, and NJCAA school. This is a misconception you should avoid. While the top D-I programs are traditionally more competitive than D-IIs, some of the strongest D-II programs are just as talented. So it is important to focus not just on the division of the school when considering your options.

Some other factors to consider:

Some D-II programs have stronger funding than D-I programs which translates to better facilities, nicer uniforms, bigger travel budgets, better hotel accommodations, higher skilled trainers etc.
Chances of playing professional volleyball are slim. Your college education is going to be your key to success in life after college. What are your academic goals? Use volleyball as a means to get the best education you can.

At a top D-I program, it’s uncommon to see a lot of court time in your early years. In your eyes, what is a successful collegiate career?

Always set high goals for yourself. We have found that the athletes who have the best college experience are the ones who get the chance to compete on a regular basis. Riding the bench is rough unless you have the potential to work your way into a more competitive role within a 1 - 2 year period. You have to ask yourself: would you rather be the big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?

TYPES OF COLLEGE PROGRAMS AND SCHOLARSHIPS:

Here is a brief overview of the different programs and scholarships available at each division. There are over 10,000 scholarships available in women’s volleyball.

NCAA Programs (National Collegiate Athletic Association)

Division 1 – There are 329 NCAA Division I institutions that sponsor women’s volleyball. Division I women’s volleyball is considered a “head count” sport, which means the scholarships must be awarded in full to one athlete or not at all. Up to 12 full ride scholarships are available per team. A full scholarship covers tuition, room and board, books, and fees. Division I men’s volleyball is considered an equivalency sport, which means the scholarships can be spread among many players per the coaches discretion. Up to 4.5 scholarships are available per team.

Division II – There are 286 NCAA Division II institutions that sponsor women’s volleyball. Division II women’s volleyball is a considered an equivalency sport, and has up to 8 full ride scholarships available. Division II men’s volleyball is an equivalency sport that can offer a maximum of 4.5 scholarships.

Division III and Ivy Leagues – There are 437 Division III institutions that sponsor women’s volleyball. D-III and D-I Ivy League schools do not offer any athletic scholarships. Military academies like Air Force, West Point, Navy, and the Coast Guard are tuition free; however admission requires a congressional recommendation and service requirements. However, athletes can receive academic or need based scholarships.

NAIA Programs (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)

There are over 244 NAIA schools that sponsor volleyball and there are no division separations within NAIA. Up to 8 full ride scholarships are available per team. Again, the scholarships can be broken up per the coach’s discretion.

NJCAA Programs: (National Junior College Athletic Association)

Division I - There are 97 schools sponsoring women's volleyball. Up to 14 full ride scholarships are available per team. Scholarships at the NJCAA Division I level can cover everything including tuition, fees, room, board and books.

Division II - There are 124 schools sponsoring women's volleyball. Like NJCAA Division I, up to 14 scholarships are available per team. Unlike NJCAA Division I, scholarships at the NJCAA Division II level can cover only tuition, fees and books. Room and board is not covered under the scholarship.

Division III – There are 84 schools sponsoring women's volleyball. There are no athletic scholarships awarded at the NJCAA Division III level. However, athletes can receive academic or need based scholarships.

Separate from the above junior college numbers for women are the CCAAA (California
Community Colleges) and NWAAC (Northwest Community Colleges), many of which
have volleyball programs.

NCVF (National Collegiate Volleyball Federation)

NCAA REGULATIONS

NCAA Eligibility Center

A NCAA member coach will require confirmation from the Eligibility Center that you are academically eligible to compete in college sports. If you have not achieved the required grades, test scores, and taken the right courses, the coach will immediately eliminate you from his/her recruiting list. Don’t get knocked out of the recruiting game before it even starts by underachieving in class.

Core Courses

The NCAA requires a certain number of college preparatory (core) courses to be completed in high school before an athlete is eligible to play his/her or her freshman year. For Division I, 16 core courses are required. For Division II, 14 core courses are needed, and 16 will be needed by August 1, 2013. Be sure to check which classes at your high school are approved as core courses by following this link.

Make sure in your freshman year of high school you know the current requirement for your graduating class and are taking enough core courses to qualify for the NCAA Eligibility Center. If athletes have insufficient core courses when they graduate, they not only won’t be allowed to participate in their sport during their freshman year of college, they also won’t be allowed to receive an athletic scholarship.

It is imperative that you make sure at the start of your freshman year that you have planned your academic schedule to include enough core courses and that you do so each year until you graduate. It is also best to try to complete core courses as early as you can in your high school career. In the event that you fail one of the required courses, you will have enough time left in your high school career to make it up!

Standardized Tests & GPA

To compete at the Division I level, a certain GPA and Test-Score are required. The Division I Eligibility Center uses a Sliding Scale which combines your GPA, SAT (Verbal & Math), or ACT (sum score) to determine eligibility. The higher your GPA, the lower your SAT/ACT requirement, and vice versa.

If you are looking to play at the Division II level, the minimum core GPA is 2.0. Also the NCAA requires an SAT score (verbal and math sections only) of 820 and the minimum ACT sum score is 68.

For both Divisions I and II, you need to complete the amateurism questionnaire through the Eligibility Center web site. Division III athletes are not certified by the Eligibility Center and you should contact the Division III institution regarding policies on admission, financial aid, and athletic eligibility.

HOW A COLLEGE COACH THINKS ABOUT RECRUITING

You will have an enormous advantage over your competition if you are familiar with the recruiting process from a college coach’s point of view. Not every college recruits exactly as described below-coaches at smaller schools have less money to recruit and may travel less than their Division 1 counterpart, for example, however the information below is typical of most athletic programs.

A Coach Is Always Looking For Top Athletes

A coach constantly keeps his/her eyes and ears open for athletes who can help his/her team. Naturally, he/she will spend the majority of the time focusing on his/her next recruiting class. However, if you are a talented underclassman and you impressed a college coach, either at a camp, tournament, club practice, highlight reel, or from a newspaper article he/she read about you, he/she will probably keep your name in his/her recruiting database and follow your development.

“The athletes we are looking for are difference makers who will add something to our team. We want skilled athletes who have terrific first-step quickness, good balance, great hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness. Being able to communicate, perform under pressure, and being a great teammate are other qualities we look for. In order to determine if an athlete has the talent and skill-set to help our program, we need to see them play. While we would prefer to see them play in person, watching video is a tremendous help in our decision making process.”

– Todd Nelson, University of Denver Assistant Volleyball Coach, NCAA D-1.

Coaches Help Each Other Recruit

College coaches belong to a small circle. Many are good friends, recruit at the same tournaments / summer camps, visit the same club programs, and socialize at annual conventions. Also, many coaches change jobs frequently and devote a lot of time maintaining their professional network of contacts. On occasion, they even share information about top athletes and assist each other with recruiting (assuming they are not rivals in the same conference or going after the same athlete).

Few college coaches can recruit every outstanding athlete he/she or his/her staff sees. If a desirable athlete’s grades don’t meet his/her school’s requirements, or the athlete plays a specific position and the coach is already stocked at that position, the coach may recommend the athlete to other coaches he/she knows.

That’s why it’s important to develop relationships with as many coaches as you can. If a college coach is really impressed with you, make an effort to stay in touch with him/her via mail or e-mail. Update him/her on your development, because even if he/she doesn’t coach at a school that interests you, he/she could be your ticket to a college scholarship somewhere else. Remember, it’s not who you know, but who knows you!

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