By Marcos Aragon
Being the parent of an athlete can be a stressful but abundantly awarding experience. Helping athletes grow and develop is the job of both parents and coaches, but bringing the two groups together at the Triple Crown Volleyball National Invitational Tournament is important to help relieve the stress of recruiting these young athletes.
NCAA coaches of all levels came together Friday to speak to parents at the Parent Recruiting Session panel. The panel was designed to help teach parents about how they can get in touch with coaches when they are on campus, setting realistic goals with their athlete, and making the decision for where the prospective student athlete wants to attend school.
The tournament is where some college coaches will get an up-close look at recruits from around the country who may be interested in their program. The moderator of the panel was Patty Costlow, recruiting coordinator for Munciana Volleyball Club, who has conducted the panel for two years now. She wanted parents to walk away from the panel with a better understanding of how the recruiting process can be easier and less stressful than they might believe.
“These college coaches, assistant coaches, associate head coaches with the responsibility of recruiting, they’re the ones who recruit these athletes, and so I always have felt ... that they need to hear from the college coaches,” said Costlow, “They’re the ones communicating with their daughters, they’re the ones who understand the process on a day-to-day basis. They have all the knowledge that these parents and athletes need. I can get up here and tell you what we do at Munciana, but I think they have to hear from the people who actually do the recruiting on a day to day basis.”
Costlow sees the importance of the panel in allowing parents to interact with coaches and getting the feedback that they feel is going to help them and their athletes succeed.
“Parents and athletes really don’t get the feedback that they need to get from their clubs, from people assisting in the process. So I feel like that was part of the mantra here for me, to be able to help clubs and parents become more informed. I think the less informed parents are, the more stress that goes on their student athlete. And also, they just don’t understand the process can be really simple. It’s really all about communication and information.”
The keynote speaker of the panel was University of Florida associate head coach Shannon Wells, who has coached at different levels and also been a recruiting coordinator. Wells sees the importance of educating parents and athletes in the recruiting process so they can have “tangible ideas” for how to get their daughter noticed.
“I think it’s an opportunity to give back. This game has been unbelievable for me and I had an amazing college experience,” Wells said. “That’s why I got into coaching, I want to give student athletes that experience, too. A lot of recruiting is just luck and some of it is just not understanding the process. So if we can help them reach their dreams just by giving them a couple things to understand about the process, to me that’s what makes it worth it. Because it is literally the best experience they’ll ever have in their life.”
Wells added that there isn’t a dumb question that parents or athletes can ask because they as coaches have seen and heard it all. She noted that college coaches want to help them throughout the process and give parents guidance to be more successful, even if their school may not be the right choice for their daughter.
Mike McDonough, a parent in attendance of the panel, took extensive notes on what was said and how he can help his daughter in the recruiting process. McDonough admitted he doesn’t know much about college volleyball recruiting but understands a little but since he coaches football and lacrosse.
“I just wanted to learn more about it because this is only her second year and I don’t know anything about recruiting or anything like that, I just kinda wanted to get a feel for what it was about,” said McDonough, “I’ll get back to the motel and review some of the notes. Obviously there’s areas that were discussed today that can help her right away and some areas that we’re just gonna have to prepare more and get some more information.”
Costlow added that the panel was assembled to help manage the journey of recruiting and that understanding it can be so simple will relieve some of the tension.
“The athletes can take the pressure off themselves and the parents can take the pressure off the athlete to send emails, to make phone calls, to impress college coaches, that they have time,” said Costlow. “It’s more about two things, the student understands they have two priorities: being a student first and then an athlete that does more, and recruiting will take care of itself if they focus on those two areas. And the parents’ job is to support them, not to push them, not to do the process for them, but just to support them in their journey when they’re ready.”