Kudos of three-time NCAA Champion beach volleyball player Jo Kremer, who is now competing on the AVP Tour, we’ve given you the overview of the beach volleyball recruiting process. But that was just the grand view, the macros of it all.
Now, over the next several months, we’ll zoom in a bit, taking a closer look at each step of the beach volleyball recruiting process.
The first step of competing for a USC or UCLA, or a smaller Division I like Coastal Carolina or even a Division II Tampa?
Just figuring out how the heck to search for a college in the first place.
There are now more than 100 schools offering beach volleyball at the collegiate level, ranging from junior colleges, NAIA, and Divisions I, II, and III. Regardless of whether you’re a freshman in high school or a junior – seniors, we’ll discuss you in a few moments – you need to be honest with yourself and your abilities, both academically and athletically.
“Just two percent of high school athletes go on to play at the Division I level,” Kremer said. Add onto that the fact that fully-funded beach volleyball programs are only allotted six total scholarships, to split between sometimes up to 20 girls, and it’s even more difficult to attain a scholarship at one of those programs.
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Have your coach, either high school or club or both (even an opposing coach who has seen you play several tournaments would be good) give you an honest – the more brutally candid the better – appraisal of your abilities: Can you compete with Abby Van Winkle at UCLA? Can you pass the jump serve of USC’s Julia Scoles? Could you side out against gritty Florida State defender Alaina Chacon?
The answer doesn’t necessarily need to be: Yes, I can do all of that today. A major aspect of college recruiting is the potential upside of high school athletes, and how well they can develop in their four years at the school. Take Terese Cannon, for example, who had never played beach volleyball prior to transferring from Georgetown to USC, where she would win two NCAA Championships. Then-USC coach Anna Collier saw that Cannon stands 6-foot-3 and was athletic enough to potentially develop into a bona fide beach volleyball player.
But, again: Be realistic. Cannon is 6-foot-3 and was still taken as a walk-on, not a scholarship player.
In order to develop at the school, you need to have the ability to belong there in the first place. When you begin to have a good feel for the level you wish to compete at, then you can begin compiling your list of potential schools. Kremer recommends 20 schools: five safety schools you’re all but guaranteed to compete for, 10 target schools that are a challenge but not overwhelmingly so, and five reach schools that would be a dream to attend – USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Florida State, LSU and the like.
And then, “getting noticed by those college coaches takes a lot of effort,” Kremer said. “You cannot expect to just attend a camp and have a coach reach out to you.”
So begins step two: Reaching out to college coaches and programs. There are myriad restrictions placed upon college coaches, and their recruiting landscape stretches across the entire country, so getting noticed, unless you’re a transcendent talent – and even then in many cases – takes a lot of work on your end. Find the emails for the coaches, which will be listed in the school’s staff directory, and begin emailing them. Note your interest. Keep them updated on your tournament results. When you put together a skills and highlight video, send them over.
Don’t be discouraged if they don’t respond. They probably won’t; they get hundreds of emails a day. But they’re taking note of the athletes who are reaching out. We promise. And when you’re junior year begins, start calling them; they’ll pick up eventually.
And when they do, the momentum has begun.
And your college recruiting process will begin in earnest.
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