Casey Commits to Niagra!
Date Posted: 11/2/2019
Q: Congratulations on your decision to play at Niagra University! Can you tell us about your recruiting process to provide some insight for our younger players?
"My experience with the recruiting process was long but exciting. I started looking at schools my freshman year because my club team back in Bloomington partnered with Sports Recruits, and they provided a significant discount for each player to have their own recruiting profile. I highly suggest starting out with a profile of some sorts because it is a good way to research different schools and place all of your academic and athletic information in the same spot for coaches to look at. I began researching schools and made a list of my favorites and immediately started sending emails to the ones I liked. Throughout the process, I learned that the more personal the email, the more likely you are to get a response. College coaches look at thousands of emails a day, especially for the big division one schools that many players are interested in. Sending a personal email that really displays your personality and interest in the school sticks with that coach when they attend tournaments to recruit players. I started out emailing hundreds of schools, from division one to NAIA, staying up late at night to send as many emails as I could before a big tournament. I never saw myself going to a smaller school, but each conversation I had with a coach gave me more experience for when I called the schools I was really interested in. A lot of times before big qualifiers, the tournament website will post a list of the college coaches attending the tournament. This was very helpful for me because I got a lot of coaches to come watch me play and learned how to play under pressure. Don’t get discouraged if a coach doesn’t respond or rejects you. It happened to me repeatedly and in the end I found a school and volleyball program that really impressed me! As far as communicating with coaches, I normally started out with an email but always suggested a phone call with the coach to connect more personally. By junior year I started narrowing down my options. I kept in contact with these coaches regularly, updating them about how my season was going and sending film. I made sure to ask each coach where I was on their list in terms of players, so that I could visit the ones that I thought I had a chance with. I did most of my visits senior year. Although I wanted to commit over the summer, I didn’t have much time to visit and had to do my visits on Fridays and Saturdays during the school year. I actually enjoyed these visits more because I got to be on campus with the students and team and experienced all parts of what it was like to live and play at that college, something I would highly recommend. After I finished my visits, I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go. It sounds cheesy, but you’ll know the school for you once you’ve visited it. You will compare every other school to this school and it will feel like the right fit. For me, the right fit was Niagara, and the day I made my decision was one of the most exciting days of my life!"
Q: How has Wildcat Jrs. prepared or helped you through the college recruiting process?
"I have only been at Wildcats for one season because I used to live in Champaign, so I started a lot of my recruiting before I got here and had established a pretty good platform for myself. I did get help from my coach, Doug, on some schools I was interested in talking to. Doug called coaches personally and advocated for me on his behalf. Another thing that really helped me stand out to coaches was my ability to jump set, which did not come easily. When I first came to Wildcats, I didn’t jump set except for middles and my sets were a lot higher and slower. Doug pushed me every practice to set my feet, jump, and speed up the pace. Running a fast tempo offense and being able to jump set really stood out to some of the schools I was talking to. The first thing my college coach said to me when I called her was “I love how you jump set every ball.” This would’ve not been the case had I not been at Wildcats. Each practice the setters came in 30 minutes early, and this time helped me focus on improving my individual skills so that I could make my team better. Because of this, I caught the attention of a lot of coaches and was able to find the school for me."
Q. Is there any advice you would give our younger Wildcat Jrs. players that want to pursue playing volleyball in college?
"Keep your options open! There are plenty of schools out there, Division 1, 2, and 3 that are competitive both athletically and academically. I actually ended up visiting multiple division 3 schools that I didn’t think I would like and ended up enjoying them.
Call the coaches! College coaches get thousands of emails, and calls are more personal! Reach out to them and send them your information and video first, but make an effort to introduce yourself and connect personally with the coach- it really helps!
Film as much as you can! Not every coach will be able to watch you in person, and many won’t consider an athlete if they don’t have some idea of how they play. The more film you have, the more you have to choose from to create a highlight reel that really shows off your skill.
Keep a positive attitude and give 100% effort no matter what. Your attitude and your effort are the only two things you can control. Having a positive attitude regardless of the score or how you are playing is important because your body language and the way you act affects your team. Giving 100% effort is also important because it goes with being a team player. Volleyball is a team sport and you play for your team, not yourself. Coaches not only pay attention to your skill, but also your court presence, ability to communicate, and how you handle tough situations. They want a player who brings energy, drive, and positivity to the team.
Believe in yourself. You are better than you think you are!"