As a previous collegiate student athlete I can tell you my journey getting there was not as simple and easy as most people probably would think. I was not 6’0 tall, I was not the best of the best, and I did not come from a family of collegiate athletes that knew how the recruiting system worked. But I did know one thing – that I was going to do whatever it took to become a collegiate volleyball player.
When it came to being recruited, I simply thought at some point if I kept working hard and bettering myself every day that I would see offers from several schools rolling in and I wouldn’t have to do a thing. Yes, I received those exciting letters in the mail and felt like I was on top of the world when I got them but I never really knew what to do after that. I thought that I simply just had to keep attending practice and winning games and they would do the rest. I quickly found out this was not the case… The recruiting process became almost like a full time job.
I was entering my junior year of high school piecing together videos to send off to colleges, taking calls each week from coaches, researching and visiting schools across the country, and learning how to market myself as a player. In the end, it all became worth it though when I finally accepted a scholarship from a DI volleyball program.
So any of you feeling the pressure of time running slim, or even for those of you early in your volleyball career here a few quick tips on how to best start the recruitment journey:
Do not wait until schools start reaching out to you! There are a lot of contact rules that schools have to follow, so sometimes they are waiting on you to reach out to them. The best thing about starting early is that you can learn from your mistakes and have time to fix them or make them better in the end. It takes some time to learn and perfect how to market yourself as a player and by starting early you are only leaving more room to grow.
Some things you can start doing today include:
- Look up potential schools and both their academic and volleyball program reputations to identify which would be a good fit for you as both a student and a player.
- Learn more about coaches and their track record to determine if their coaching style is one you’d work well with.
- Begin recording and collecting highlight clips and learning how to make those into a professional video to market yourself.
- Create a timeline of goals for yourself to achieve over the next few years. Having deadlines in place help keep you on track to reach certain goals and ensure you won’t get behind in the recruiting process.
Do Your Research
Start researching schools you think you would be interested in. Talk to former teammates, coaches, parents, and friends and begin compiling a list of schools that you are interested in learning more about. When researching potential schools, there are lots of things you need to consider including:
- Is a degree offered in the area of study you want to join?
- Is the volleyball program one you could see yourself a part of?
- Is the campus a right fit for you?
- Do you have any connections to that school (friends, family, former teammates) that could provide insight, help you set up an initial meeting, or give you a tour of campus?
These are all important things to gain insight on before choosing a school and program to be a part of. This allows you to narrow down and pin point specific schools that best fit your needs as a student and player before reaching out for more information.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to schools that you have not heard from. Simply put together a brief email introducing yourself and list your achievements as a player. It’s also important to include why you find their school and program appealing and to ask if a visit to the school would be an option.
With your initial contact email, you should include links to videos and highlights you have put together, or even a copy of your tournament schedules. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO GET RECRUITED! This gets your name out there for coaches, not only for specific schools, but all schools. Coaches communicate and you never know, even that one video you send out could end up in the hands of several college coaches.
Once you take this step in the recruitment process you will recognize more coaches coming to watch your games and more letters and emails coming in. Congratulations! You are one step closer to accepting that offer.
Seek Help if Needed
The luxury many players have these days is the assistance of someone to help them with this entire process. Find someone that is familiar with the process, like a coach or former athlete, that will be dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. You can find help easily either over the internet on specific websites, or from your local recruiting coordinator if one is provided. These recruiting coordinators have spoken with many college coaches and know what coaches are looking for within their programs and could find you a doorway into a great volleyball program. Just remember, do not let them do all the work as it’s important to stay engaged in the process.
Work Toward Your Goal
Set a goal for yourself and work towards it. It might take long hours in and out of the gym, but I promise you will get there. There will be days of doubt, but the hard work and dedication will all be worth it in the end.
If you’re an athlete, parent, or coach that has gone through or is currently going through the recruiting process what tips would you give other athletes to help them achieve their goals? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
Written by Aubreigh Applegate
Aubreigh Applegate is a graduate of Ball State University with a focus in sports administration, marketing, and management. As a former DI volleyball player at the University of Dayton she is passionate about continuing her admiration for sports into her future career.