I remember when I was a Freshman in high school.  I was a good volleyball player and LOVED it.  I was the captain of my high school and club teams, drew volleyballs all over my school notebooks and if you asked me then, most definitely wanted to play in college (probably at Stanford, Pepperdine or UCLA).  I was CLUELESS about the process for that, and sincerely thought, “college is an ETERNITY away, I don’t need to think about that right now, and when the time comes, Andy Banachowski will probably just see me play and give me a full ride and life will be great!”.  When my senior year rolled around, I had done NOTHING for my college recruiting and really had nothing brewing.  It was my own fault- I hadn’t reached out to my club coaches for help, or any college coaches to come see me play.  I started to lose confidence in my game and to think that maybe I wasn’t good enough to play in college.  Little did I know, I just went about the process the COMPLETE wrong way, and with just a little bit of information and empowerment, I would’ve had a lot more offers and opportunities.  I went on to play club volleyball in college through the SCCVL (which was AWESOME, and please ask me sometime about the college club system).  But, here’s the main message, YOU, yes YOU (YES you!), can play volleyball in college and I am here for you– so let’s figure this out together.  And if you’re thinking to yourself “eh, I’m not even sure if I want to play in college”, or “I’m just not really ready to think about this yet”, just humor me and listen up.

If you’re on a National team of high school age here at SoCal, you have a FREE Volleyball Recruits profile.  This tool is magic and truly fast-tracks your college recruiting experience.  The site gives you access to 1,000s of college coaches right at your fingertips.  Just for the fun of it, I would like you to go into the system, go to the School Search function, limit your search to “Division 2” in the “Northeast” region, and go ahead and call me if you’ve even heard of ANY of the 53 schools that pop up.  All 53 of these schools have scholarships available for volleyball players.  And that’s only division 2, and only in an specific region of the country!  So let’s at least start researching people.  Once you click on a school, it brings up basic information about the school, as well as a link to their athletics website.  Go to their site and look at the school’s roster.  See how many kids they carry, see where the kids come from, see how tall they are, look at their record, see how many kids per position they have and what year those kids are.  Go on YouTube and see if you can find some video of a match. Right from volleyball recruits, you can send a message to the head coach and all of the assistants expressing your interest, introducing yourself and asking them to watch you play, which will also link directly to your profile (which has your stats, videos, pictures, and academic information).  That’s how you start.  SO EASY.

So, I challenge you, if you’ve not done this yet, to go in and “favorite” 20 schools that you’ve never heard of before, but that have some quality that you like.  If you are willing to be brave (which I know you are!), branch out of California.  I know it’s really nice here but it’s also the country’s hotbed for super high level volleyball and your opportunities and options really broaden if you can think outside the west coast!  Find schools where maybe the geographic location is interesting to you (think about all the awesome places out there– Boston, New York City, Denver, Portland…our incredible country at your fingertips!).  Maybe you like the size of the school.  Maybe you just like the mascot or the campus looks pretty– what the heck– just go for it!  Even if you’re just a freshman, or a sophomore, NOW is the time to research, broaden your horizons, explore, and begin to lay a foundation for your future success.  If you’re a junior or a senior– you’re OK!  You too can and will play in college if you want to, and if you do the work.  We have had seniors get recruited to play in college as late as AFTER they have already graduated!! Use the system and reach out to as many schools as you can NOW.  Ever heard the Steve Martin quote, “Be so good they can’t ignore you”? Well, be so good at putting your name out there, that college coaches can’t forget it.  This was advice from Cal State San Marcos head volleyball coach, Andrea Leonard, when I asked her if freshmen year was a good time to reach out to her for recruiting purposes.  She said, “I love it when a player is so persistent, that I recognize her name when it comes up in my inbox.  That’s a player I’m going to pay attention to”.

So, I know it seems scary, but how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  It’s never too early and it’s never too late to get recruited.  The fact of the matter is though, that you are not going to be “discovered” on the court, by a random college coach passing by.  You have to do the work to get that coach to come sit on your court and watch you play.  It’s really cool– if you ask them to come watch you, they WILL!  Especially at bigger tournaments like Las Vegas Classic, Junior National Qualifiers, Festival and JO’s.  Start laying the groundwork NOW.  Write a nice little intro letter, and SEND IT OUT!  And then follow up before a tournament, when you have updated video, or just because you want to!  And the biggest thing– ASK ME FOR HELP as often as you need it.  I will never get sick of talking to you about this and helping you pursue your dreams.  Come in every day if you’d like and let’s figure this out together.  Remember, it’s never too early, and it’s never too late.  Let’s go play in college!

college admissions workshopThe post arrives on the heels of our College Admissions Workshop for 9th graders, this Sunday, March 6th at 4pm.  We know this whole process can be completely overwhelming.  Vicki de Jesus (SoCal mama, high school counselor, former volleyball and basketball coach, and former collegiate athlete), will help guide you through it with a helpful presentation to make sure you’re on the right track.  Vicki is also planning workshops directed at Juniors & Seniors in the coming months.  Show up and let us help you.