Visiting college campuses and their surrounding areas is a critical part of the beach volleyball recruiting process. The “feel” of the campus, and the characteristics of the town in which it resides, is among the most important considerations for prospects deciding whether a college is the right fit. Campus visits are informative, but they also show a level of commitment to the recruiting process that is looked upon with favor by beach coaches.
Nearly seven months since the NCAA beach volleyball season was abruptly canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, coaches and prospects are still scrambling for the future. The NCAA recently extended the “COVID-19 temporary dead period” in Division I to January 1, 2021- and there’s no guarantee that it will not be extended again. Division II and Division III has resumed its normal recruiting calendar so their beach volleyball recruiting is not impacted by the temporary dead period.
A dead period is a time during which beach volleyball coaches may not have in-person contact on or off campus with prospective student athletes (PSAs). Coaches may, during a dead period, communicate by phone, email or other electronic means, such as direct message on social media. Dead period or not, communication with a PSA cannot occur until June 15th following the sophomore year. A PSA is considered any person who has entered classes for the ninth grade or who has received financial assistance or benefits not generally available to others from a school.
Let’s explore several creative ways families can participate in campus visits both in person and virtually in the new age of COVID recruiting for beach volleyball.
In-Person Campus Tours
While the dead period precludes beach volleyball coaches and their staff personally from giving in-person campus tours, there are several options available to beach prospects and their families to explore college campuses.
Unguided Campus Tours
Beach prospects may take unguided tours of college campuses without NCAA restriction. Families should review policies to ensure the campus is open to the public and learn whether any restrictions have been put in place limiting the number of visitors. An unguided campus tour is truly unguided. NCAA rules prohibit beach coaches from providing an itinerary for the visit or arranging for prospects to meet with team members.
Guided Campus Tours
Beach prospects may take guided campus tours lead by non-athletics staff members at the college. Again, beach volleyball coaches may not participate in these tours and are precluded from offering much assistance. NCAA rules state that beach coaches may only provide prospects with the contact information of the tour guide responsible for conducting the tours.
Admissions Campus Tours
Beach prospects may participate in campus tours conducted by college admissions offices. All colleges with beach programs offer regularly scheduled admissions tours for prospective students and their families. Tour schedules may be found on the college’s admissions webpage and typically may be scheduled in advance online. Beach coaches may not participate in these visits and may not assist the admissions office with campus tours during the dead period.
The NCAA’s virtual recruiting rules provide additional opportunities for beach prospects to see campuses and interact more personally with coaching staffs.
A coach may participate in a video call with a recruit under the same rules that govern phone calls. Beach prospects may consider requesting a video call with coaches in lieu of a traditional phone call after June 15th of the sophomore year. A video call may be more personal and create an opportunity to make a more lasting impression. Recruits scheduling video calls should follow appropriate etiquette regarding dress, background, and location for the call.
Virtual Tours – Prospect Off-Campus
Beach volleyball coaches and athletic staff may provide prospects with a virtual tour of the campus through a video call during the dead period as long as the prospect is not on campus. Again, prospects must be of age permissibly to receive a phone call for this option. A beach coach may not participate in a virtual tour (or telephone call) while a prospect is physically on the campus.
Virtual Tour – Online
Every college in the country sponsoring a beach volleyball program has a virtual tour of the campus online. Virtual tour information usually can be found on each school’s admissions website. Virtual tours are an excellent way to see the campus and its surrounding area. Many tours include guided views of specific facilities as well including, student residences and dining facilities. Participating in a virtual tour shows commitment and resourcefulness – two characteristics highly valued in beach volleyball prospects.
In collegiate beach volleyball recruiting, timing and preparation create opportunities. While COVID-19 certainly has negatively impacted recruiting it also has provided opportunity for innovation and creativity. Recruits who find innovative ways to get noticed, overcome obstacles to visit campuses, and find creative and virtual ways to communicate their value to college coaches will have earned the opportunity to end their recruiting journey in a happy place.
About the Author
Wayne Holly has nearly 10 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience. He is the former Head Beach Volleyball Coach at Tulane University (6 seasons), former Assistant Beach Volleyball Coach at Georgia State University (1 season) and former Assistant Indoor Women’s Volleyball Coach at Brown University (2 seasons). Wayne also has held numerous head and assistant coaching positions with USA Beach High Performance and Junior Beach National Team programming, including Head Coach, Future Stars Beach National Team, and Assistant Coach of the U21 and U23 Junior Beach National Teams. Wayne now provides assistance to families through the collegiate beach volleyball recruiting process through his company, Beach Prospects. He currently is a Master Coach and Director of Player Development with SandStorm Beach Volleyball Club in Delray Beach, Florida.
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