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Recruiting Process

College Bound Athlete


As another club season is in full swing it’s time to start thinking about the recruiting process. For some of you, this is the first time you will begin to think about the process. For others this season will bring you one step closer to making a final decision about college. Wherever you stand in this process, it’s time to get informed and think about the possibilities that lie ahead of you.  


Generally, families feel that the recruiting process is a very stressful time. If you are afraid of the process and only see the pressures of the situation then you will feel the stress. But if you embrace the process and see the opportunity that is ahead of you then this can be an empowering experience. We encourage you to be goal driven. Find out what’s truly important to you through this process. Look inward with your family and those closest to you and build a map of where you are trying to get to. Do you want to play for the best possible volleyball program? Is it more important that you get to play early and often? Are academics more important that the athletic programs? These are all things that only you can determine.  


In conclusion, this process can be a great opportunity for you; it all depends on how you approach the situation. Embrace the process, find your goals and build a map of where you are trying to get. Use the resources that we have available for you through Thunder Bay Volleyball Academy. Make informed decisions and remember to enjoy the journey, which is your recruiting process.


Freshman Year


You’ve now entered your first year of High School and the NCAA defines you as a Prospective Student Athlete. Technically, you have begun the recruiting process but your focus should remain on playing high school and club volleyball and seeking out the best training/coaching possible.


College programs will begin to send information out to you, often sending questionnaires for you to fill out. Their goal is to put your name and information into their database so they can follow your progress. Programs vary in how they choose to send out information so don’t get too caught up in who sent you information and who didn’t. You are a long way away from an actual commitment and things change a lot during the recruiting process. Generally it’s a good idea to return the information and fill out the questionnaires to the best of your ability. That being said continue to focus on your training and doing well in the classroom.


Sophomore Year


Things begin to pick up a bit for High School Sophomores. You are locked in, for the most part, with what high school you will play for. Often parents are worried that they won’t have a very good team or won’t get good exposure. The truth is that the High School volleyball season is becoming less and less important. The more important decision is what club to play for.


We understand how the recruiting process works.


Now that you have selected Thunder Bay Volleyball Academy it’s time to start being proactive. We encourage sitting down with the people that are most important to you in making this decision. You might ask to talk with your high school or club coach. You should sit down with your family and begin to decide what you want out of this recruiting process and build a list of schools that you have interest in. While we advise you to be realistic, don’t put too many limitations on yourself. Give the college program a chance; let them decide if they are interest in you. For example, if you are 5’4” and done growing we would not advise you to send a letter to the top 5 programs in the country saying you want to be their next middle blocker. However, we would suggest that you send out a letter of interest to a top program that you have interest in if you want to be a defensive specialist.


It’s important to understand that college will receive hundreds and in some cases thousands of emails and letters every year. In most cases, they are going to be honest with you during this process and will let you know their level of interest. If you get a response that shows the school is not interested then you have a better understanding of where you stand and you move on from there. Your sophomore year is a good time to begin being proactive in your recruiting process.


The goal of sending out information and letters of interest is to get onto a college programs recruiting ‘list’. Once you make one of these ‘lists’ college programs will do their best to get a look at you. They may ask you to send them your club tournament schedule so they can try and take a look at you. If they can’t see you at one of the tournaments you are attending they might ask you to come to camp or send a recruiting video (See recruiting video services). In the end, your goal is to continue to develop and get the best training you can get. You still have a lot of time left in the recruiting process.


Junior Year


The Junior Year is one of the most important times in the recruiting process. Hopefully, you have been proactive in the past two years and done your best to get in contact with programs that you have interest in. Continue to work hard during the high school seasons no matter the level of play around you. Continue to get ready for a big winter and the club season that will follow.


Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at This is the Eligibility Center for the NCAA, which certifies if you are eligible to play NCAA Athletics based on your academics. This site should answer any questions you may have about being or becoming eligible to play in college. As part of the process you will need to submit current transcripts, available ACT or SAT test scores, along with pay a fee for registering.


It is important that registration occur during your Junior year, because you want to stay away from the build up of registrations that occur late in the Senior year or the incoming freshman summer when there is a rush of registrations. Typically, the NCAA gets swamped with documents/registrations for football players from big name programs and they will receive priority over volleyball players.


FYI – per NCAA rules, you can practice for a certain number of days without NCAA Clearinghouse Final Certification, but you cannot compete or travel.


A new component of the NCAA Clearinghouse is the Amateur Certification. The NCAA has removed the responsibility of determining a player’s amateur status from member institutions (colleges/universities) – for USA athletes, this is merely a formality and you just answer a few simple questions. For International student athletes, you must be very careful and specific about how you answer the questions on the computer, mainly because of volleyball cultural differences.


Next step would be to apply for the SAT/ACT on a national testing date (sometime between Jan-May).

Your Junior year is also a good time to create a skills video to send out to various college programs. Hopefully your skills have developed and you might want to think about creating another video if you already have one from your sophomore season. Whatever the case may be it’s really important that you try and get your information out to college programs. The video is one of the best ways to catch the attention of a college coach. Your goal is to get on their list of players to see during the club season.


You should think about creating a list of schools that you are interested in. We suggest that you categorize the schools or create some system for ranking the schools. This does not mean it’s your final list but it gives you a good foundation to use during your junior season. Continue to be proactive and send out emails and formal letters to programs that you have interest in. Most college programs are done with their season by second week of December but they also enter into a dead period. Your goal is to get your information to them so that when the quiet period is over you are in their system of players to watch. When their season is over, college programs immediately begin thinking about recruiting for the future.


As you enter your junior year of club it’s important that you’re always working hard. You never know when a college coach might be watching. Although you might know that a certain club match means nothing a college coach is only focused on how you play. Therefore it’s important that you’re always working hard and presenting yourself well. Coaches look for more than just current skills. They are evaluating on interaction with your teammates, leaderships skills, and potential abilities.


As you get later in the club season college programs might begin talking more in depth with the families’ parents. They might also discuss the option of taking an unofficial visit; basically they are asking you to pay your way to visit them on campus. You should take this time to see where you rank with the schools that you are interested in. If they are interested in you and they want you to visit then we suggest that you take the unofficial visit if financially feasible.


As the club season comes to close you need to re-evaluate where you stand and how the process went over the last club season. You need to determine what schools are still actively recruiting you and where you rank now that the year has come to a close. If you aren’t satisfied look at contacting new coaches that are at a different level of play, size, or type of school and send them your recruiting information.


Senior Year


You are now entering your final year of the recruiting process and are now realizing that you will have to make the decision what school is best for you. If you have been proactive in the recruiting process then you should have a good understanding of what is ahead of you over the next year. You have options available and you are now discussing with schools to determine what your best option is. If you don’t have more than a handful of schools actively recruiting you then you should try and get the attention of schools that you are interested in. It can never hurt to have more schools available to you in the recruiting process.


If you are just entering the recruiting process then you need to be proactive during your final year of high school. Most large conferences have already offered or gotten commitments from the high school senior class so you need to get in contact with as many programs as possible. Realistically list schools that you are interested in and contact them to see if they are still recruiting. If they are, make sure you send out your information as soon as possible. If you aren’t happy with the list of schools that are recruiting you then broaden your search and reach out to more schools.


The early signing period for Division 1 programs starts in early November. If you reach this time and you don’t have anybody actively recruiting you then you need to start thinking about other options such as lower divisions or junior college. There is a late signing period but most schools have either given away their scholarships already or are waiting on one or two players. Waiting for this time period can be dangerous if you don’t have other options available. The late signing period ends in the spring before the college season begin.


The final option for those who haven’t found a school or program yet is to find somewhere you can get into academically and try to walk on. While almost all schools hold open tryouts, some schools are more competitive than others.


Once you have selected a school make sure you keep your grades up and keep working hard in the gym. After you sign your letter of intent to play for a college you are done with the recruiting process. That being said it’s important to realize that this is only the beginning of your college career. Your college coach will continue to follow up with you and watch your development. You are now working to become the best possible college player you can be.


Recruitment Terms


Contact: An event occurs any time a coach has any face-to-face contact with you or your parents of the college’s campus and says more than hello.


Contact Period: During this time, a college coach may have in person contact with you and/or your parents on or off the college’s campus. The coach may also watch you play or visit your high school. You and your parents may visit a college campus and the coach may write and telephone you during this period.


Dead Period: A college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents on or off campus at any time during a dead period. The coach may write and telephone you or your parents during this time.


Evaluation: An activity by a coach to evaluate your academic or athletic ability. This would include visiting your high school or watching your practice or competition.


Evaluation Period: During this time a college coach may watch you play or visit your high school, but cannot have any in-person conversations with you or your parents of the college’s campus. You and your parents can visit a college campus during this period. A coach may write and telephone you or your parents during this time.


Official Visit: Any visits to a college campus by you’re your parents paid for by the college. The college may pay all or some of the following expenses:

• Your transportation to and from the college
• Room and Meals
• Reasonable entertainment expenses including complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest.
Before your official visit, you will have to provide the college with a copy of your high school transcript and SAT/ACT scores and register with the eligibility center.


Quiet Period: During this time, a college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents off the college’s campus. The coach may not watch you play or visit your high school during this time. You and your parents may visit a college campus during this time. A coach may write or telephone you or your parents during this time.


Unofficial Visit: Any visit by you and your parents to a college campus paid for by you or your parents. The only expense you may receive from the college is three complimentary admissions to a home athletic contest. You may make as many unofficial visits as you like and make take those visits at any time. The only time you cannot talk with a coach during an unofficial visit is during a dead period.


Verbal Commitment: A college bound student-athlete’s commitment to a school before she signs (or is able to sign) a National Letter of Intent. She can announce a verbal commitment at any time. While verbal commitments have become very popular for both college bound students and coaches, this “commitment” is not binding on either the student athlete or institution. Only the signing of the National Letter of Intent accompanied by financial aid agreement is binding on both parties.


National Letter of Intent: A voluntary program administered by the eligibility center. By singing an NLI, the student athlete agrees to attend the institution for one academic year. In exchange, that institution must provide athletics financial aid for one academic year. Restrictions are contained within the NLI so read them carefully. If you have questions visit

With over 1,000 colleges and universities offering athletic programs it can be very confusing to understand how the NCAA separates different divisions. The NCAA breaks colleges into 5 different divisions which include Division I/II/III, NAIA, and Junior Colleges. These divisions are selected by determining the number of sports a college or university has. Inside each of these divisions colleges can be broken down into subdivisions. A brief definition of each NCAA Division is listed below:


NCAA DIVISION I (Volleyball)


Division One programs are compromised of the largest college and universities in the country. This is the premier division in College Volleyball and hosts nearly 118 programs. The season lasts from August to December with the NCAA tournament. Division One programs generally have 12 scholarships with the exception of schools with small athletic departments.


NCAA Division I schools are talked about in three categories:
Major Division One – Comprised of schools located in BCS Football Conferences. These conferences usually receive four or more invitations to the NCAA DI National Tournament each season. The athletic budgets and revenue streams for these colleges are often larger than any other level of play.
Conference Examples: (ACC, Big East, SEC, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Pac 10)
Team Examples: UCLA, USC, Univ. of Washington, Nebraska, Florida, Penn State, Texas
Recruiting Description – Most of these teams typically recruit and sign young ladies from all over the country who rank in at least the Top 200 nationally, Top 50 regionally, or Top 15 statewide in their respective high school graduating class. These are some of the most athletic kids in the country and are usually involved with the USAV Pipeline. The players are already very skilled or show a lot of potential with their athletic ability. The majority of these players will give a verbal commitment in their Junior season and sign with a program during their senior season.
• Middle Blocker: 6’2” – 6”5: Is very athletic and can move well. Approach Jump is 10’ or above and has good lateral movement. Can hit from different locations on the net and has the ability to block from pin to pin.
Example: Cassandra Anderson 6’3” Florida
• Outside Hitter: 5’10” – 6’4”: Will vary in style but has all around skills and can play front row and back row. Player is touching on average 9’9” or above and has the tools to be able to score points.
Example: Geena Urango 5’10”, USC

• Opposite – 6’0 – 6’4”: Has good physical presence and or blocking skills which makes them a good fit for the right side. Player should be able to contribute offensively but may not always play back row. The position is becoming bigger to combat against opposing teams outside hitters.

Example: Lauren Bledsoe 6’2”, Florida

• Setter: 5’9 – 6’2”: Has great hands and has the mobility to sets balls from all over the court. Understands how to run and lead an offense. As the game is getting bigger and faster the position is starting to require taller athlete. Players should be able to hold their own in the front row.
Example: Taylor Carico 5’10”, USC
• Libero/DS: 5’0” – 5”8”: Incredible passing and diggings skills. Above average floor skills. Must be able to read hitters and having a tough serve helps. Must pass at above a 2.3 rating.
Example: Jordan McCullers 5’8”, Georgia Tech


Mid-Major Division One – Comprised of conferences that receive an average of two to four in the NCAA DI National Tournament each year. The top teams in these conferences could compete in major conferences and advance past the first weekend in the tournament. Their budgets are usually similar if not better than the mid to lower tier teams in the major conferences.
Mid Major DI Conferences: Atlantic 10, Colonial, Conference USA, Mid-American, Sun Belt, Southern Conference
Team Examples: Charlotte, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, Temple
Most of these teams typically recruit and sign young ladies that are ranked between spots 150-600 nationally, 25-100 regionally, or Top 30 statewide in their respective high school graduating class. These schools also tend to sign kids from all over the country.
• Middle Hitter: 6’1” – 6’4”: Strong, Good mobility and polished footwork, can terminate in front and behind setter, change opponents hitting abilities.
• Outside Hitter: 5’9” – 6’2”: Versatile, can play all around. Must be able to terminate on both pins and from back row. Pass well defensively and in serve receive.
• Opposite Hitter: 5’10” – 6’3”: Block well and serve tough. Must be able to put balls away outside as well. :
• Setter: 5’7” –6’1”: Floor general, someone who can run and control a team, finds the open hitter and creates scoring opportunities.
• Libero/DS: 5’3” – 5’9”: Primary defender who reads well and can direct the defense. Must pass well in serve receive and control half the court.


Low to Mid Major Major Division One – The schools in these conferences traditionally receive one invitation to the NCAA DI National Tournament each season. Depending on resources, these institutions might not have a maximum allotment of scholarships allowed (12).
Low to Mid Major DI Conferences: Big South, Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun, Southern Conference, SWAC, MEAC
Team Examples: Austin Peay, UNC Asheville, Mercer, NC A&T, Alabama State
Most of these teams typically recruit and sign young ladies that are ranked between spots 500-1,000 nationally, 75-175 regionally, or Top 50 statewide in their respective high school graduating class. These schools tend to sign most of their kids regionally (within a 300-500 mile radius) unless there is a specific connection (previous job, good high school coaching relationship, junior college transfer, DI transfer, or referral from a previous player) to an area outside of their region.
• Middle Blocker: 6’0” – 6’3”: Above average mobility from pin to pin. Can terminate when needed and can alter the hitting of opponents attackers.
• Outside Hitter: 5’9” – 6’1”: Terminates well outside and a great overall athlete. Must be able to pass and play defense at an above average level.
• Opposite: 5’10” – 6’2”: Blocks well and or great athlete. Must have an above average serve.
• Setter: 5’7” – 5’11”: Smart, vocal, and can run the offense. Must give hitters one on one opportunity. :
• Libero: 5’3” – 5’8”: Above average defender and serve receive.


NCAA Division Two and NAIA
Division Two

Division Two programs are allowed to use a maximum allotment of 8 scholarships per athletic year. Division II schools, like Low Majors, use academic scholarship money that players qualify for to help offset their budget expense for each recruit. The Top 25 programs in Division II are on par with Low Major DI teams. Division II hosts a 64 team National Tournament each year.




The top ranked NAIA schools are comparable to NCAA Division II. Every few years NAIA schools grow in size or strength and move up to NCAA II level. They are allowed to give athletic scholarships but vary depending on the athletic programs budget. NAIA schools have relaxed recruiting guidelines but follow the Division II calendar.
DII or NAIA Conferences: GACC, Gulf South, Peach Belt, South Atlantic
Team Examples: North Alabama, Armstrong Atlantic, Mars Hill, Lee College
Most of these teams typically recruit young ladies that are ranked in spots 150-300 regionally or Top 125 statewide in their respective high school graduating class. These schools tend to recruit most of their kids within a 200-300 mile radius unless there is a specific connection to an area outside of their region. Players at this level usually lack a major asset such as size, mobility, or grades to play immediately at a Major/Mid-Major Division I school.
• Middle Blocker: 5’10” – 6’2”:
• Outside Hitter: 5’8” – 5’11”:
• Opposite: 5’9” – 6’1”:
• Setter: 5’6” – 5’9”:
• Libero/DS: 5’2” – 5’8”:



There are no athletic scholarships given in Division III. Scholarships may be provided by member institutions but have to be base on grades, test scores, and made available to the student body as a whole.

Conference Examples: Great South, UAA
Team Examples: Emory, LaGrange, Oglethorpe, Piedmont, Sewanee
Most of these teams typically recruit young ladies that are ranked in spots 250-600 regionally or Top 200 statewide in their respective high school graduating class. Because of their specific academic requirements and the cost of attending these schools, DIII schools can attract players from other regions on a regular basis. On occasion DI prospects may attend a DIII school due to academics.
• Middle Blocker: 5’10” – 6’2”:
• Outside Hitter: 5’7” – 6’0”:
• Opposite: 5’9” – 6’0”
• Setter: 5’5” – 5’10”:
• Libero/DS: 5’0” – 5’7”


NJCAA (Junior Colleges)

These are two-year junior colleges that allow players to grow academically and/or physically before making the transition to a four-year school. Athletic scholarships are awarded.


College Recruiting Checklist


1.      ______Make list of schools you are interested in attending;


2.      ______Have our Thunder Bay Volleyball Academy recruiting coordinator give you feedback on your selections


3.      ______Get registered in the NCAA Clearinghouse


4.      ______Make recruiting video


5.      ______Send recruiting video out


6.      ______Take SAT or ACT


7.      ______Send transcripts to Clearinghouse to finish NCAA Certification process




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