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Do-It-Yourself Recruiting

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When you decide you would like to play college volleyball, here are some recruiting tips. Handle the recruiting process yourself. It's not your parent's job to get you recruited. It's a red flag to have parents emailing or calling on behalf of the athlete. It shows a) the parent could be an issue and b) the student-athlete is not ready to transition to being an adult.

1. Do a Google search on your name. What will coaches find? Make a list of the good stuff (newspaper stories, photos, video, etc.).

2. Create a YouTube account in your name and upload the good stuff. Make sure the URL for your channel is YouTube.com/YourName, so it's easy to find. Create a Skills Tape first. Once coaches see your athletic potential is a fit, they'll want to see game film, not highlight reels. Game film allows them to see your interaction with teammates, coaches and officials. Also how you handle errors. Make sure the game film has your uniform color and jersey number listed so the coach can find you.

Game film: Coaches want to see a full (unedited) set posted. It is perfectly acceptable to provide them with the times of great plays, but give them the option to see more (i.e. great block at minute 5:36 and 8:47, great dig at 4:16, etc). Use a good (preferably HD) camera and leave it stationary at a good angle and not try to follow the ball with the camera. It's very frustrating to watch shaky footage and not be able to see a player because the camera panned to the other side.

Video examples:
Selbie Christenson, Saint Mary's College verbal commit

3. Clean up your Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Delete anything negative or snarky. Coaches will determine your sense of humor later. Have you given your teammates shout outs? Have you celebrated opponents' successes? Are you a leader? Make sure the URL for each is easy to find. For example, Twitter.com/YourName. Make sure your high school name, club name, volleyball and Class of ___ is in your profile.

Coaches can see what you retweet, like and comment on.  Athletes should understand that what they retweet or like tells coaches something about their character. "Does this athlete have off-court issues that can bring bad press to the program"? If enough of these yellow and red flags pop up (inappropriate social media, bad grades, negative attitude in video), you could be removed from a coach's prospect list.

4. Make a list of colleges that fit your academic needs. Most college coaches love a 3.5+ GPA (makes it easier to land academic scholarship money). If you get hurt or quit the team, will you still get what you need to graduate and find a good job?

You can find 1,749 college volleyball teams here:

NCAA
NAIA
NWAC (WA, OR, ID junior colleges)
NJCCA

Each organization has minimum requirements, be sure to know these requirements. NCAA and NAIA will require you to register for their Eligibility Center first.

NCAA also has rules on when a college coach can contact you ("they never emailed me back!") and how many official visits you can take. Do not jeopardize your eligibility, know the rules.

Athletes should strongly consider playing for a junior college. It's a great way to get your first two years done a little cheaper. And athletes are likely to get more playing time their 1st and 2nd year, as they are not competing with 3rd and 4th year athletes. Many DI, DII, DIII and NAIA coaches contact junior colleges for ready-made players. A lot of junior college sophomores get multiple offers to move on to 4 year schools. Typically, players can move up a level from where they were leaving high school (i.e. if they are playing DIII now, then most will be able to find DII or NAIA after 2 years. If they are playing DII now, then possibly lower ranked DI after 2 years). Definitely worth considering.

Many athletes and parents miss that an athlete's first two years of college are mostly general education requirements. If you get a general transfer AA, then 4-year colleges are required to transfer the credits within the same state. 

5. Make a list of colleges that fit your criteria. Make your list of colleges very long and be very open minded. Send out as many as 50-75 emails to different colleges. Then look into the ones who are interested in you and compare options.

Create an Excel spreadsheet of your potential teams (email region@cevaregion.org if you need a starter list), so you can track your initial correspondence and follow-up. Visit each athletic website. Do they have room for you? Has coach been there for a few years? Are they recruiting players from all over the country or just locally? How does schedule look? How did team do last season? Follow teams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Attend their matches, summer camps and practices if possible. Know their program before emailing coach. Find out about open gyms in the off-season and attend a few. This is a great way to get a feel for the team and level of play. Most NAIA and community colleges will have open gyms, some start hosting them in November and December.

Email the coaches at the colleges you are interested in. Coaches want to hear why you are interested in their college or university's academic programs. Make the email personal, short and sweet. Don't mass email. State name, position, graduating year, height and GPA all in the email subject line. Most coaches get tons of emails and if they’re only looking for one or two specific types of players, you will get their attention. Example: Susy Stronghitter – 2017  MB – 6’4”  3.8 GPA

Dear Coach Barnard,

I am very interested in attending Oregon State University and specifically the College of Veterinary Science. Thought my academic resume and volleyball profile might be of interest to you:

3.8 GPA at Crook County High School, National Honor Society, Equestrian Club and ASB President
6'4 middle blocker for Crook County High School, First Team All-State, Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year
Currently playing for Rimrock 18-1, ranked #1 in CEVA

Please visit my YouTube channel for skills tape and game film, https://www.youtube.com/YourName.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Your Name
Address
Cell Phone #
Link to high school or club schedule
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

6. Once the college coach emails or calls and offers you an unofficial or official visit:

Invite coaches to see you play if you are near their schools or let them know if your team is playing in a big showcase or qualifier (especially during club season, when they are not in their own fall season). Your parents will be paying for an unofficial visit, so see if coach can come and watch you play first.

Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call coaches, especially for younger players when coaches cannot call you directly. It can be intimidating to pick up the phone and call a coach, but it is actually easier to communicate that way for coaches when they cannot email you or call you directly. Coaches talk to dozens of athletes a week, so even though it may be intimidating as a player just know that it is nothing new for the coaches to receive phone calls. If it is not a good time for the coach to talk, they will probably give you a good time to call back. Call with a very brief intro about who you are and just ask them to tell you a bit about their program. Have a few questions prepared to get to know more about the university and show the coach that you have done your research.

Make a list of questions (Where do you see me fitting in? Where will I live? Does the whole team travel or just top 12?)
Be on time
Request a one-on-one meeting with coaching staff (without your parents). Show you are ready to handle yourself.
Spend time with team (could you see yourself playing with these athletes for 2 or 4 years?)
Accept coach's assessment "I don't think you're a DI player, but a friend coaches for..."
Follow up with a handwritten thank you note after visit
Follow up at least monthly with emails. Your persistence may pay off. Shows coaches your continued interest.

7. When you receive an offer, discuss with your parents. Can you make this work? Should I verbally commit now? Should I graciously decline the offer and move on?

Many athletes that tell coaches “they are waiting for a full-ride offer” in April! Many parents and athletes do not understand that “full rides” are very few and far between. All coaches have a budget and they try to stretch it as much as possible. Most would rather split scholarships and give most athletes something rather than full-ride three (3) athletes. 

Volleyball is a fall sport and fall athletes have to learn/adapt fast to not only going to college but playing a college sport. It’s a lot to juggle and coaches want to make sure recruits understand that and can prove they are ready for the commitment in little ways like communicating with coaches (not parents), registering for classes early, planning around practice, lifting and other commitments.

Don’t get anxious or frustrated with early commitments. Be on your own timeline and don’t feel under the gun because others have committed. DI and DII schools are just as cautious about early commitments and offers, so if they like you, they will wait.  Many DI coaches feel parents are just as guilty for the early commitment as the schools are. Be very careful about pressing for offers early in the process (i.e. freshman/sophomore year). Don’t make a school decide on you as a freshman and sophomore if they are not comfortable yet. You will be a better player later on, so trust that.

8. Check out CEVA College Players list, any other CEVA grads playing there? Ask CEVA office for their contact info for advice.

9. Late to the recruiting game? Look for colleges that just hired a new coach and contact them for a tryout.

10. Let CEVA office know when you verbally commit, we want to celebrate you! region@cevaregion.org

Written with help from several Oregon and Washington college coaches, including Mario Andaya at Central Washington, Melanie Hambelton at Concordia, Angela Spoja at Evergreen, Emily Palkert at George Fox, Jenna Bouey at Multnomah, Jaymie Cox at Olympic, Melanie Miller at South Puget Sound, Betsy Sedlak at University of Portland, Nels Norquist at Warner Pacific and Steve George at Yakima Valley. Have suggestions to add? Email region@cevaregion.org.

Lisa Wendland from Wendland College Planning LLC in Portland, OR also offers the following advice:

College Fit: Factors to Consider

College Financial Aid

SocialMediaAthlete

Photo courtesy of CEVA Official Photographer, Match Point Photography

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