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The College Recruiting Process

As of the commitment we announced today for a girl committing to Stanford, we have helped 63 athletes to get to commit to college. Since this awesome accomplishment was on our mind, today we ran a Zoom call with players from RPM. (If you click on the link you can see all of the players we have helped get committed since we first started in 2013.) This Zoom call included current players along with alumni from the program. Since RPM has players playing at 6 of the top 10 schools in the country including 3 out of the top 5 schools, we wanted to give our current players the chance to ask questions and hear what the college experience is like from players who came through the program. It was awesome! They asked questions about the school/athlete balance. They asked about how they continue to have a social life while trying to balance school and their sport. They asked what a typical day was like. One of the questions that they asked that seemed to be on all of the player's minds was, "What is the recruiting process like and when did you start?"

Recruiting is such a long and difficult process. It takes a tremendous amount of work on the part of the athlete and their parents. They have such a huge responsibility with all of it. Many don't even know where to start, so they reach out and hire a recruiting company. These companies can cost anywhere between $500 and $2,000. While this cost may seem like a lot, if you end up with a scholarship out of it, it can definitely be worth it. While these recruiting companies can be a great way to get started, the players at RPM are lucky to have Ryan Mariano in their corner to bounce questions off of, to set up recruiting workshops for, and to pay for a club whose track record speaks for itself.

The biggest key to getting started in the process is to figure out two things. What do you want to go to school for, and what schools do you see yourself playing volleyball at? Not all schools are created equal for all majors. What major are you interested in? What career path do you want to take? Not all volleyball programs are created equal nor do they recruit in the same way or the same type of athletes. What programs interest you? What coaching styles interest you? All of this research is important and has to be done before taking the next steps. Basically you need to create two lists. The schools that have your major, and the schools you see yourself playing at. Then you have to start to cross schools that don't have BOTH things off your list. The key is to figure out, would you go to the school still even if you didn't play volleyball there. You have to love BOTH for it to be the right fit for you.

Once you have narrowed down your list, make it grow again. Go do the research again. Look at this list of schools to see which schools have beach volleyball programs. Find 25 schools that fit your criteria. Label your top ten. Label your top 5. Then put your dream school right there at the top. One of the girls asked Macy Gordon today what advice she could give them about the recruiting process and the first thing that came out of her mouth was, "Don't get discouraged when you receive rejection letters." The reality of it is that they may really like you, but schools may be done recruiting for your class, or they may be looking for a blocker and you are a defender. They may be looking for a hand setter and you are more of a bump setter. They may be looking for a specific type of player and you may just not fit what they are looking for. DON'T GET DISCOURAGED!

One of our former players had her heart set on going to a specific school in the PAC-12. She tried and tried and the coach, for whatever reason, just didn't think she would be a good fit for his program. This same player ended up going on to play for a school that was ranked number one in the country and she played for their 1's squad for her entire career. She is part of one of 3 pairs EVER to win more than 100 matches in college. So while it may not have worked out for her at the school she wanted to go to, I truly believe she ended up at the school she was MEANT to play for.

Ok, so now you have figured out your list. You have spent the time to do the research. You are ready to jump to the next step. Well, now it's time to collect all of the contact information for all of the coaches at all of the schools. Make that list, save it somewhere and make sure that you stay on top of any coaching changes that may happen at those schools. Coaching staffs in college change and you need to always make sure that you have a plan if that happens.

Make sure you have good video on yourself. Coaches don't want to JUST see highlights. They want the chance to see full matches too. They want to see how you react to mistakes. They want to see body language. They want to see what you do when the score is tight and what kinds of decisions you make on the court. You will need some video to be able to show the colleges who have interest.

Write an email introducing yourself. Let the coach know which graduation class you are a part of. Let them know about your academics. Let them know about what kind of player you are. Are you a blocker? Defender? Split? Left handed? Right handed? Do you prefer right side or left side? Paint a picture for the coach. When you are done writing it. Have other people read it. Let your parents read it. See if they can think of some of the things you have missed. DO NOT HAVE YOUR PARENTS WRITE YOUR EMAILS!!! This is a huge mistake!!! Coaches, just like teachers, read hundreds of emails a day from kids. It is VERY easy to tell if a parent has written an email. It comes off in the tone, the wording, and the amount of detail. If your first contact with a coach shows them that the parents want it more than the kids because the kids are not willing to take the time to write the emails, it is a huge red flag. That is not the first impression you want to make.

Ok, so you wrote an email to a college and didn't hear back. How many of us get to all of our emails to respond every day? How many of us have hundreds of unread emails that we will literally never read because they got pushed so far down the list by all of the new emails that came in that we may not have ever even seen them. Hundreds of players email coaches every day. Those $500-$2,000 recruiting services are spamming the coaches on behalf of players all the time. It is a process. Meaning it is going to, most likely, take quite a few emails to get a response.

Now you are off and running but this is where it gets complicated. You have to make sure that you follow up with ALL of the coaches that you sent emails to. You can't think, oh wow, Stein Metzger at UCLA just e-mailed me back, Russell Brock at LSU seems interested, wow, Todd Rogers from Cal Poly says he has openings for my class, Kristen Rohr from GCU invited me to tour the campus, and just stop communicating with everyone else. Don't drop the ball before it even really gets momentum. These colleges all know that they are competing with one another for players. They are also all colleagues and they talk. Don't be the person they talk about negatively.

Once you have begun to establish a relationship with a coach, make sure that you keep them updated on when you are playing, what events you are going to enter, how you finished in past events, and send them links to updated video as often as possible. This is paramount! You want your name to pop up in their email often. You don't want to say the same thing every time either. You want to always have new and exciting information to give them.

Ok, you have gotten your invite to come out and check out the school. make sure you prepare yourself before you go. Figure out what things about the school are things that will make you not want to go there, and figure out the things that would really excite you about the school if they have them. Location is a big deal for a LOT of people. When you get there, ask the players you will inevitably meet there, what it is like to play for the coach. What types of things they do together as a team. What their training schedule is like. Anything that you can think of that might be important to you. Have those questions pre-cocked and loaded so that you don't miss anything when you get there. If you are prepared, you can make a very informed decision. You are trying to figure out where you will spend the next 4-5 years of your life so those things are VERY important.

The time has come. You have narrowed it down to 2-3 schools who all seem interested. What's next? How do you decide? Think about your current club. What things do you like about it? What things do you not like about it? Now go visit those schools again. Ask those questions again. Get a real feel for what the team might be like. Ask to check out a practice if there is an opportunity. What is the vibe like? Does it fit your personality? Talk to your parents. Talk to your current coach. Get their opinion. They know you a lot better than you give them credit for.

I hope this entry has been helpful. If you have questions, feel free to reach out. If you are part of RPM Sand, we are in your corner already and if you decide that college beach volleyball is the route you want to take, we will help you pursue your dreams!

If you enjoyed this post, give it a like. Feel free to check out my other posts while you are here too! There are some good insights on a variety of beach volleyball related topics along with products I genuinely recommend!

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