This post is from the end of my first Spring at Midwestern State.

Just finished another weekend spent recruiting. This will probably be the last trip for 2016. Once more it took me to the Dallas area. This time it was for the North Texas region’s national bid tournaments.

For those who don’t know, each USA Volleyball region is allocated a certain number of bids to Nationals at the different levels of play. These are additional bids to the ones that teams can earn through the national qualifying tournaments. The one I was at a couple weeks ago is an example (in the case of the Open division, qualifiers are the only way to get a bid).

On Saturday I was at the 17s tournament to watch pool play to evaluate prospects for the 2017 class. We have two verbal commitments (both played), but have at least one position to sort out. Dallas Skyline hosted the event at their facility. Here’s a rather random picture I apparently took at some point. There are 5 courts in use (I think they can do 8 total) – sportcourt over concrete. The banners on the wall are from recent National’s medal finishes.

college volleyball recruiting

Sunday I shifted to the 16s tournament as they went through brackets. Six courts used in this case. With the 17s I actually had a specific list of players to evaluate. In the case of the 16s, though, I was just there to make note of interesting potential 2018 recruits. It’s too early to contact them (though not by much). It was more about getting them on our list for later. Some won’t be realistic for our level, and I generally marked them down as such.

Of course watching a bunch of 15-16 year-olds and trying to project what they will be like as players (and people) two years down the road – and even further to the end of their college career – is a serious challenge. That’s the real trick of recruiting.

By yourself in a crowd

It’s funny recruiting at a 16s tournament because no one can talk to you. NCAA rules prohibit you talking to prospects during an event regardless of age. In the older age groups you can at least chat with parents. Not so with the younger ones. There weren’t many other college coaches there recruiting – at least overtly.  Some may have been there as club team coaches. Either way, not much in the way of peer conversation either. Being new to the area, I don’t yet know the region’s Juniors coaches. I was recruiting on my own, so there wasn’t really anyone for me to chat with.

Of course you can’t go to any events like this without seeing “those” parents. I saw one father who looked like any error caused him physical pain. I felt like walking over to him and saying something to the effect of, “It’s a game played by kids, not life or death.” Not sure that would have done any good, though.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager for Volleyball England (overseeing the national team pipeline systems), as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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