The landscape of the volleyball recruiting process continues to evolve, and the relationship that the junior volleyball coaches and recruiting coordinators have with the student athletes is as valuable as it has ever been. Recruiting coordinators and coaches develop lasting relationships with the families in the club, many times keeping in touch after the club days are over and college life begins. When an athlete considers transferring from his/her college program, oftentimes the club recruiting coordinator or club coach is the first to get the call.

Here is some information to help junior volleyball coaches and recruiting coordinators guide student athletes through the transfer process, and the NCAA Transfer Portal.

The NCAA Transfer Portal was established October 15, 2018 as an online interface to systematically manage the transfer process from start to finish, add more transparency to the process among schools and empower student-athletes to make known their desire to consider other programs. Since August 2019 over 300 DI female volleyball athletes have entered the portal.

It is important to note that the transfer portal definitely operates for the athlete. They are in control. So it is important that the student athlete understands the process of placing his/her name in the portal, and what sequence of events lie ahead.

  • The student athlete has to initiate the process with the compliance director at their college or university.
  • Once the student athlete is in the transfer portal, the school does not have to honor the scholarship.
  • College coaches cannot contact athletes until they are in the portal.
  • The format of the portal is simple. It lists athlete, school, email and if they receive athletic aid.
  • College coaches have to find out the athlete’s position as it is not listed there.
  • College coaches will also need to find match film of the athlete – usually through the college program’s Volleymetrics account.  The athlete needs to know if film is available from his/her season

Since the student athlete’s email is the only way a college coach can get in touch with an athlete, a college coach will typically reach out to the athlete’s club for more information and to move the process along. The club’s recruiting coordinator/coach can then be a liaison between the school and the athlete, especially to help set up a visit. Athletes do have the option to check a box to not be contacted when they set up their account on the Transfer Portal, which usually means they have a preference in where they want to go.

It is very important for the student athlete to reply quickly to college coaches that do reach out, and to also be open to all opportunities, because it is uncertain how many there will be.

The Transfer Portal is not something you necessarily need to discuss with your high school student athletes while they are going through the recruiting process or signing the National Letter of Intent (NLI).  It is important, however, to build and maintain a trusting relationship with the athlete, so if he/she is not happy, the athlete is comfortable approaching the club coach and/or recruiting coordinator to work through it.

It is helpful to prepare your committed athletes for the challenges they may face their freshman year.
  • Freshman year can include many mixed emotions as student athletes are learning a lot about themselves, adapting to their role on the team and creating new relationships. It’s normal to struggle. It is important to remind the student athletes of why they chose the school and committed there in the first place.
  • Expect calls and texts the first semester just due to the change in life and teams. Be there for the athlete as a sounding board and someone they can count on to listen and help them stay the course.
  • If the student athlete continues to struggle, suggest that he/she meet with the Head Coach to discuss the frustrations or concerns.  A club coach/recruiting coordinator can help prepare the athlete for that conversation by role playing what that talk could be like.
  • Encourage the student athlete to focus on academics and make sure their GPA is the best it could be.
  • Most of the time, playing time or fitting in are the main challenges the student athlete is facing. However, if a student athlete is sharing concerns of mistreatment or abuse the conversation should change to documenting specific situations and talking to the athletic administration.
  • During post season meetings, the student athlete can meet with their college coaching staff and set goals for the off season. It’s an important time to continue to build relationships, and make big strides physically, on the court and in the weight room.  The club coach/recruiting coordinator can check in with the student athlete to see if there’s progress and if student athlete is adjusting to college.
  • Once the summer begins, plan to talk with the student athlete and discuss the course of the year and where they are now. If needed, help the student athlete prepare for August through training, summer school, etc. so he/she can go in confident and ready for season. The student athlete should feel like they are starting with a clean slate, refreshed and ready to go.
  • Encourage your alumni student athletes to come in and train during offseason and school breaks. It is a great opportunity for them to train, see teammates, compare experiences and catch up with the club coach/recruiting coordinator. Being able to share experiences and understand what others are going through helps give the student athlete some perspective and help alleviate some negative emotions.

If by September/October the student athlete is expressing unhappiness, lack of joy, or frustration, advise him/her to talk to the Head Coach again. If there is still no change by November, then you may want to discuss the Transfer Portal as a possibility if they don’t feel a connection to the team and school.

For related education on the volleyball recruiting process click HERE.

This article was in collaboration with Carolina Union Volleyball Club Recruiting Coordinator Glenna Bianchin. Read Glenna’s bio HERE.