At my volleyball club, we have the saying that finding the right college is like trying to find the right prom date. You might like a couple things about this school but they are not a perfect fit, then you might find what you consider your dream school but they don't like you. Then, finally, you find the perfect school and they like you back, boom, you’ve got yourself a prom date or in volleyball terms, a verbal commitment.
But then, the night before the dance, your date shows up and tells you that it’s not going to work out… boom again. This is the story of Katelyn Driscoll, recent graduate from Oregon State University and 5-year member of the volleyball team. I’ll let her take it from here.
Hello everyone. My name is Katelyn Driscoll and I am a recent graduate from Oregon State University. I am from Littleton, Colorado and graduated with a degree in Communications and Business. I have an unconventional story of how I got involved in the volleyball world and the recruiting process to get into college, therefore, that is what I am going to talk about. This is a more lengthy post because I am going to start with my personal story and then end with some tips for the recruiting process. If you are looking just for tips, scroll to the bottom, but I feel that what I have to say in my personal story can offer insight and really relate to those reading. Hope you enjoy!
Lets start by taking it way back to 2009, which was my sophomore year in high school. I had never played a day of volleyball in my life, but my friend convinced me to try out for a volleyball club called Nuu Sky, now known as Club 303. After somehow making a team, during the beginning of the year meetings, I was pulled aside and told that I was not going to see a single minute on the court during games and tournaments because this year was for me to watch and learn the game. The coach I had at this time told me that if I could become a student of the game as well as a player of the game, I would go play Division 1 volleyball. At this time, I was naturally gifted with being 6’3’’ but my body definitely did not understand the mechanics that it took to actually play the game well. I thought my coach was absolutely insane telling me all of this, but my family and I instilled our trust into him and let him coach me.
In 2010, I finally began to play sparsely in games and contribute in practice. I was very inconsistent in my skills and didn’t understand the flow of the game at all. The first game I was ever put into, I blocked a serve, which is obviously illegal, and this moment of embarrassment and lack of skill really sparked a fire within to study the game more and work harder in practices.
In August of 2010, I transferred clubs and began to play for Colorado Juniors (CoJos). CoJos was known for their involvement in the college/recruiting world and I knew that I had the height to play volleyball, but needed to work on my skills greatly. My skills were improving fast, but there were still parts of the game I was unfamiliar with. All I had ever been taught was to hit and block. Defense, passing, and serving was not even in my spectrum of knowledge, so I was just considered a specialty player. Although I was just a hitter/blocker, my height is what caught peoples attention. Now standing at 6’4’’, colleges were becoming interested in me even though my skills were far worse than my teammates and competitors.
Early in 2011, I was getting a lot of interest from colleges. I secured my first official visit with the University of Colorado and had a couple other visits brewing on the backburner. Since I am from Colorado, visiting this school felt like home. I loved everything about it and all of the puzzle pieces just seemed to fit. I ended up verbally committing about a week later.
Fast-forward, a couple months to Halloween weekend. I got a knock on my door and it happened to be the head coach at CU. Taken aback, my parents and I welcomed her into our home and we sat down to have a discussion. She told my parents and I that my GPA was no longer going to be acceptable to get into the school (although I had already been accepted into the university). Puzzled, my dad questioned her reasoning and she told us that CU was trying to become a private school, so the academic standards were changing. I glanced down at my phone that was lying on the couch due to a text I just received. It happened to be from my club coach, and from what I could read (without being rude or obvious) I made out something along the lines of “Be careful, CU is looking at recruiting two Russian girls in place of…” Not being able to hold in the news I just read, I questioned her about these Russian girls, and the room went silent. My parents immediately knew that I knew something that they didn’t know, and the coach was no longer able to back up her argument. She left, and that was the abrupt end of my verbal commitment to CU.
The next day, I had 4 official visits lined up for the next couple of weeks thanks to my club coach. I began with a visit to The University of Oklahoma, and loved it. Not trying to make the same mistake as I did with CU, which was committing too early, I decided to go on my next visit to Oregon State. After visiting OSU, I knew deep down inside that this was the place I was meant to be. The coaching staff, team, town, other student athletes, and all of the supporters of the university was what really made me feel at home here. Although I knew nobody in Oregon, I decided to commit and break the news to the remaining two visits as well as Oklahoma.
Throughout this entire process, I learned many things that I wish I knew before I had begun my recruiting. I wish I had known to…
1. Ask questions, TONS of questions- Although you think that you may be learning a lot from the coach or player taking you on your visit or emailing you, have a set group of questions that you ask them. This could range from questions such as, how much do you practice a day? What does a typical day look like? How many classes do you usually take? What is the relationship between student athletes like? Anything that you think of, ASK IT!
2. Weigh your options- if a school is really interested in you they will wait for an answer and not force you to make a decision in a short set period of time. I jumped at the first offer that I received because I felt that it would go away if I didn’t, but if they feel that you are a player who could help their program they will wait!
3. College is full of politics- as much as I didn’t want to believe it; I learned very quickly that college athletics is a business. This is unfortunate because you want to give the coaches and schools your full trust, but they are doing what is best for their business. The only way to find out if coaches and schools are what they are saying they are, takes you back to point #1…ASK QUESTIONS!!
4. Don’t just focus on volleyball- although you are emailing these schools or visiting them with the ultimate goal of playing volleyball in mind, don’t forget to look further into their academics, the town the college is in, the relationship of the athletes to the rest of the student population, and the impact that the athletic department makes on the community (ie: community service).
5. Enjoy the process- yes, this process can be VERY stressful, and during this time in my life I just wished that I could find the school and be done with it. The truth is that, it is a long drawn out procedure and nothing will happen over night. Throughout this process, try to remind yourself to be patient, find the right fit, and enjoy every moment because time flies!!
Thank you so much for reading everyone and I hope you enjoyed it!
Since graduating from Oregon State University, Katelyn is pursuing a career overseas in Europe to play professionally and would love for anyone that is interested to continue following her journey.