When it comes to our list of things we are looking for in a college program, the coach is usually near the bottom or not even on the list to begin with. The recruiting process doesn't really account for the coach being a factor until we are weeks or months into the process. After all, you need to talk on the phone and meet the coach in person on a visit to campus before you really know if they are someone you'd want to play for, right?
But here is the argument that I will make in the moment - the coach should be at the top of your list of things you are looking for in a program. Even before the level of play.
Go play for someone awesome...
The coach is a limiting factor just like any other factor. You could have a list of 10 schools that you're interested in. But say only 5 of those schools have coaches that you would really want to play for. So, without really realizing it you are limiting your list of potential schools without taking into account one of the most important factors of the recruiting process.
I was thinking about all of this while I was watching the Volleyball State Championships over the weekend and had two thoughts:
Do you want to go play for someone awesome?
Lots of conferences played their conference championships over the last weekend. It was really fun for me to see so many of my college coaching friends playing in a championship final or even winning their conference title. These coaches are just awesome, great people. Obviously their teams (coaches included) are excited about winning a ring and all of that. I think that it would be just as exciting and rewarding, or at least it should be, to play for them even if they weren't winning in that moment. Many of my coaching friends have not only worked insanely hard to accomplish these achievements, but they are also just great people. I think that makes their winning and the success of their teams a bigger deal.
Why does the level matter?
You can't tell any of those athletes that won the 2A State Championship that their success is any less impressive or significant just because they aren't playing 6A. In that moment they don't care and certainly aren't thinking about it. Tears of joy, hugs and celebrations for seniors and under-classmen. Reactions at all levels were basically the same. You can witness the same excitement from State Championships to D1/2 Conference Championships if you follow those teams on instagram. Almost every "match point" was recorded. All of the hard work, sweat and tears seems worth it in that moment. I didn't see any posts from athletes at the college level after they won their conference tournament with a caption saying, "I wish I was at a D1 school."
Go play for someone awesome - and do everything you can to win a championship at that level.
This is probably the best recruiting advice I can give you today.