College Talk...

Hoping to get a scholarship?  Don't hope, TAKE CONTROL OF IT...

Choosing a college doesn't have to be a stressful time for a student-athlete.  The more control you take of your future, the less stressful it will be.  And while you may feel overwhelmed or stressed out at times, be smart enough to realize that getting caught up in the stress only makes things harder.

You need to realize that choosing a college is a family decision, not a personal decision.  You need to have college-related talks with your parents as often as possible, and they need to be as positive as they can.  The cost of schools is out of control!  Tuitions have skyrocketed over the past decade.  LISTEN to your parents when they are discussing the financial aspects of this decision - they have FAR more experience in this area than you!

Here at FURY, we are educators first and coaches second.  We value academics over volleyball, and want nothing more than for you to be at the best school you can.  As a personal (family) decision though, you need to decide if you want to be at the best academic school for you (where volleyball may or may not be an option), or the best volleyball school for you.  

Life is filled with making tough choices, and procrastination is the enemy.  Because whether you are ready for it or not, the future IS going to come....

The Process...

The process can start as early as you wish.  It is NEVER too early to start reaching out to coaches.  

1.  Sometime during your junior year, you need to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse.  Often your high school guidance counselor can be of assistance to you with this process.  It doesn't take long, but it is a necessary step if playing Division I or II volleyball is something you want.  Click here for a link to the NCAA Eligibility Center.  The NCAA has put together a Quick Reference Sheet to explain their eligibility requirements.  Ultimately, you need to have taken enough NCAA-approved courses throughout high school (and done well enough in those courses), and you need to meet certain gpa requirements which are linked to your SAT or ACT scores.  Consult your guidance counselor or coach for further clarification.

2.  Create a list of colleges that MAY interest you.  The accuracy of this list is not important....at all.  In other words, when in doubt, include it!  And as you learn about more and more colleges, add them to your list.  Be sure not to limit yourself - consider schools from Division I, II, and III.  It would be reasonable for your list to have 30-100 schools on it by the time you are done.  One easy way for your list to grow is when looking at your schools of interest, consider also the other schools within their conference (these can be seen in their "standings").

3.  Go to the colleges' websites and navigate the volleyball page.  Look at their roster, read the coach's biography, looks at their schedule/results, look to see if they are in need of your position within the next year or two (though this isn't a deal-breaker if they don't), look at the heights and hometowns of the girls on the team, etc.  All of this will help you to get a better feel for their program.  Also, go to www.collegeboard.com and learn what you can about each school (look at cost of tuition and room/board, the average SAT scores for incoming students, their list of majors they offer, etc.).

4.  Either directly within the coach's biography or by navigating to "staff directory" within the athletic department's website, you will find the email addresses for the coaches (don't only record the email address for the head coach - copy them all).  Create a database/record of the colleges and coaches you are contacting (this way you won't have to look it up every time).

5.  Write a brief email to ALL of the coaches introducing yourself (we recommend sending this email to the head coach as well as their assistants as this will improve your chances of hearing something back in a timely manner).  Indicate that you play for "Long Island FURY," include your position, your height, your grade, your jump heights (if they have been tested already), your approximate gpa, and then say that you are interested in learning more about that specific college.  Understand that college coaches are extremely busy (especially during their season), and it may take them a while to write you back.  WRITE TO AS MANY SCHOOLS AS YOU CAN.  Each email does not need to be written completely differently.  It also does not need to be overly lengthy or an English masterpiece - short and to the point, but without typos and "IM" or "text" language (for example: "I m really interested n learning about ur school."  Yeah, no!

6.  Once you have established dialogue with the coach (or even in your introductory email), you need to include your tournament schedule.  They are going to want to see you play - and this makes it easier for them.

7.  Sometime between the middle of your junior year, and the beginning of your senior year, you need to put together a skills video (all recorded on dvd's).  Some girls are beginning to utlilize personal webpages or websites like "YouTube" to posted their skills videos.  Most coaches prefer the actual dvd though.  This is another way for you to get noticed.  If you are making the skills video without your club coach, remember some important tips: speak confidently and clearly during your introduction, and be sure you are perceived as "athletically" as possible during the filming.  Included within your skills video must also be game footage.  For positions like setter and libero, the game footage is particularly vital.  Soooo, mom or dad needs to be recording your matches.  While high school matches can be very competitive, the pace of play is usually far slower than club.  So we really recommend against sending in high school footage.

8.  Based on your interest, and hopefully the reciprocated interest of the college, you should then send out your skills dvd's.  Always follow up with an email.  

9.  STAY IN CONTACT WITH THESE COACHES.  Some will be interested, and some will be not.  And of those that are interested, you will be interested in some, and in some you will not.  It's about finding the right match.

10.  VISIT COLLEGES!!  You should be taking trips with or without your parents as often as possible to visit schools.  When visiting a school, keep a few things in mind:  First, everyone wants to go to a school with impressively architectured buildings and beautifully manicured landscapes.  But the truth is that how "pretty" a school is will really have very little impact on the experience you have there, so don't over-value this.  Second, if you go with your parents, take a half hour or so and walk around/explore by yourself.  YOU are the one that will be spending the next four years there.  Third, take a tour of the school (usually offered through the visitors center).  Often, but not always, a school will waive the application fee if you take a tour.  Fourth, at least a week before the trip, reach out to the volleyball coach and tell them you will be coming for a visit.  They will likely want to meet up with you (sometimes even give you a tour of the school themselves.  Ideally it's a great idea to visit the school when the volleyball team has a home match, but the reality is that this won't always be possible.  If it's not, don't be afraid to ask the coach for some game footage, especially for Division III schools (the level of play at D-III varies unbelievably- some are excellent while others are very weak).  This footage will help you gauge if their program is strong enough to push you as a player.  Lastly, it is important to understand the difference between an official visit and an unofficial visit.  An unofficial visit is 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 athletics contest. You may make as many unofficial visits as you like and may take those visits at any time. The only time you cannot talk with a coach during an unofficial visit is during a "dead period."  An official visit is any visit to a college campus by you and 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 (three per day) while you are visiting the college; and
   • Reasonable entertainment expenses, including three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest. 
Before a college may invite you on an official visit, you will have to provide the college with a copy of your high school transcript (Division I only) and SAT, ACT or PLAN score and register with the Eligibility Center.

11.  You must must must be proactive in your pursuit of playing at the next level.  Too many talented athletes are left speaking of their high school glory days due to their passive approach to this critical time in their athletic careers.