Q & A with a Successful High School Student-Athlete Parent
The college recruiting process for players and coaches and especially parents has always been fraught with nerves, joys, and surprises. Playing college sports is the dream of many but it is a distinction not easily attained.
According to scholarshipstats.com, the numbers are daunting. Overall, a little over 7% of high school athletes (about 1 in 13) go on to play a varsity sport in college and less than 2% of high school athletes (1 in 57) go on to play at NCAA Division I schools.
In this case, the numbers really do tell the story:
In Girls Volleyball, our parent/student’s sport, 461,956 female athletes played on their high school varsity or high club team. 27,708 of those players played in college, or 6%. Out of that group, 5,081 played Division I, a mind-boggling 1.1% of high school players.
It is with these numbers in mind that every student-athlete and their parent(s) must determine if they are ready to face the challenge of being a college athlete. And it is with this reality that Hoopsalytics discussed the recruiting process and outcome with Mr. Keith Holloway, a life-long close friend of Coach Bill and almost 30-year teammate and pal to Coach Mike.
Keith and Nancy had their first child, Maia, while we hoopsters were competing together in a 3-season per year men’s league in Marin County, CA. Little did we know then that our seasons and post-game get-togethers would be replaced by countless activities with the kids, including practice and travel and game matches and film sessions and club placement and college correspondence. But it did, and lo and behold, little Maia grew up into a terrific athlete, and spoiler alert, did go on to compete in college. Here is their story.
1Q. When did you and Maia decide she wanted to play volleyball in college?
A. Pretty early. I think by sophomore year in high school. You have to start the recruiting process by junior year, if not before. By the time Maia was playing club volleyball she was playing in these large-scale tournaments (the 2021 AAU Volleyball Grand Prix & Super Regional Tournaments website lists well over 100 tournaments from U-10 to U-18, from coast to coast, north to south). At these tournaments where there are hundreds of teams, coaches see you play in person against quality competition. Usually, Maia would play in 3-4 of these tournaments each summer. There were also camps at colleges where you could go showcase your talent and interest to schools.
2Q. What steps did you take to get Maia on a college coach’s radar?
A. Videotaping. Nancy or both of us would take turns videotaping all of Maia’s games at tournaments. We would also videotape all of her high school games. After a while, you get a sense of what kind of player she is. Is she D1, 2, 3? Then you start to reach out to coaches. And you find out that there’s a consultant who has access to coaches, and for a fee, this person will tell you what coaches are recruiting certain positions. In Maia’s case, that was a setter. She was 5’7 with soft hands and great timing and skills, but it’s a numbers game and not every coaching staff has the time to see you play. That’s why the consultant is helpful because he knows or can find out quickly what that college coach is looking for.
It’s during this process that you find out that Maia was not tall enough for D1. She was very skilled but a starting setter at D1 is usually 2″ taller with a 30″ vertical jump. So we set our eyes on highly regarded academic schools at the D3 level. We started sending video to those coaches and establishing contact and a rapport. We would send email with video and links to watch.
It’s kind of like applying for a job. They’ll get back to you (if you’re persistent) and from numerous schools we were asked to keep in touch. At a certain point you get an idea if they are or are not interested anymore. If they are really interested they’ll ask you to come visit.
3Q. How did you wind up at Carnegie Mellon?
A. We had been in touch and down the road a ways with Georgetown and were told that ‘90%, we want you.’ Then the starting setter there blew out her knee which changed their whole recruitment focus. But they never told us that. Most coaches will tell you yes or no, in terms of acceptance and a place on the team. After calls, emails and text messages, they just weren’t responding, which is really frustrating.
Maia had decided she wanted a medium-sized school in an urban area. Not rural. Carnegie-Mellon was on our radar academically, so we sent correspondence and video to the coach. They were interested. They came to watch Maia play at a tournament and were still interested. They invited us to visit. We did the tour, really liked Pittsburgh and the atmosphere but most important, Maia really liked the coach.
Before departing we all sat down in the coach’s office where the gauntlet was thrown down. The coach told us there were two setters she was interested in: Maia and another player. The first to commit would get in and be on the team. We asked for some time to think it over.
When we got home, it was the next day or the day after, that Maia said yes, and she committed.
At the time we didn’t know if that two-player for the one-roster-spot scenario was true, but we wound up finding out that yes, there was another setter being recruited, so we were glad to get that placement.
4Q. Where and how could Hoopsalytics help with the recruiting process?
A. The video capabilities on Hoopsalytics would really help the overall communication process because coaches are being sent interest letters from hundreds if not thousands of athletes. Being able to use Hoopsalytics to enhance the stuff you send to coaches would be really helpful. The college coaches still want to see the raw film. They want to see the whole match, not highlights, and Hoopsalytics makes it easy to see just those sequences with the player of interest.
Here’s how to make it easy for recruiters to see ALL sequences with the player of interest:
i. Open any stats page, and click on the playing time next to any player:
ii. All sequences in a game or games open in the Clip player. You can also filter by offensive or defensive sequences:
iii. Click Play Next Clip to move to the next action sequence. (This skips over dead balls, timeouts, etc.)
With the analytics and video filtering that Hoopsalytics provides, getting not only the film but per-game and season-long statistics would help tremendously in giving the coach the whole picture of Maia as a player.
5Q. How did it all turn out? Were you and Maia pleased about the outcome?
A. We’re delighted. It all worked out really well. Look, it is a huge time commitment. It’s competitive. There’s a lot of navigating, including the player/coach dynamic. You have to really want it because it’s not always easy. But when Maia finished her career, she was satisfied and thrilled by her experience.
(Writer’s note: in her freshman year, Maia played in 18 matches, with five service aces and 35 digs. In her sophomore year she really took off, playing in all 35 matches and led the team with 886 assists, 55 service aces and 345 digs. She was All-Conference Honorable Mention. Her junior year was outstanding: she was named AVCA All-America Second Team, AVCA All-Region Player of the Year, led the team with 1306 assists and 56 service aces. In her senior year, the team went 22-8. Maia was AVCA All-America Honorable Mention).
Note: Volleyball is planned as a future sport for a Hoopsalytics style video analytics platform.