Amazing Division 2 Recruiting Guide with Coach Rotondo
I am excited to bring you this interview with NCAA Division 2 Coach Jeff Rotondo, of Holy Family Volleyball. This interview is pretty much a must know guide if you want to be recruited to play in any college sport. He specifically details Division 2, but it is applicable to the other collegiate divisions as well.
In 2019, Holy Family women’s volleyball had an overall record of 31-6, 18-1 in conference and won their first two matches at the NCAA East Regional before being eliminated. In addition, the Lady Tigers finished the 2017-2018 year with an incredible cumulative team average GPA of 3.65. Coach Jeff Rotondo knows how to coach and he knows how to bring in smart and talented student athletes.
Welcome to Interview #110.
First Steps for you to get the attention of a college coach
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen? If an athlete personally contacts you by phone or email, what will you do next?
I would encourage them to be genuine, unique, and persistent. If you email us once, and we do not respond right away, do not be afraid to send a follow-up email. Depending on what time of year it is, the college seasons are a time-consuming grind. We receive hundreds of emails per month, and it is hard to reply to everyone in a timely matter, so they should be persistent.
Once we receive your email or phone call, what we will do next is dive into your video if you have sent one. College coaches have a unique ability to determine if you can play at our level by watching about 2-3 minutes of video.
From there, we will respond in any number of ways letting you know of our level of interest. If you are someone that we value due to athletic and academic abilities, we will definitely look to see you play in-person.
What do recruits need to know about how and when Division 2 coaches can contact them?
Recruits should know that June 15th prior to your junior year is a date that is important for Division II coaches and potential student-athletes. That is when we can email you, call you, make in-person and off-campus contact, and begin having you on an official visit.
Additionally, when you are at your competition site (club tournament), we cannot speak with you until that last day of the tournament, after your last match has ended, and your coach has released you. This is important to keep in mind, as we do not want potential recruits thinking we are rude if you see us on day one, and we basically just say “hello”. Technically, that is all we are allowed to do until your tournament is over.
Before a recruit starts contacting schools, what do they need to consider to narrow down their options?
We recommend sitting down, and genuinely trying to funnel your list to schools that fit you. This includes your intended major/field of study, academic acumen, size and location of school, level of competition, and reputation of the program and coach.
If you have your heart set on a large university experience, you would not be interested in the small atmosphere of some schools; so don’t waste precious time reaching out to those kinds of schools.
Your initial Communication with the college coach
How should a recruit prepare an introductory email that will be read by and useful to a college coach?
Recruits will want to make sure the key elements are in the subject line, and first few lines of the email. Your subject line is important, because when we are searching through our emails for a 2020 5’11” OH, it is easy to find you if your subject line is complete. Make sure it has your name, graduation year, height, and position. Sometimes, listing your GPA in the subject line is a good idea, especially for those schools you know value academics.
In the body of the email, start with the same introduction: “Hi, my name is ____________, I am a 5’11” Outside Hitter in the 2020 class. Something I excel at is being a 6 rotation outside hitter that has an impact on the game from the front row and the back row.” Give us a statement that gets our attention and is hopefully backed up by your video!
Make sure to include your intended major, GPA, SAT and/or ACT scores, as well as your NCAA Eligibility # if you have one. I highly recommend setting up an account with the NCAA Eligibility Center, as you will need it for Division I or Division II; it is always good to have that. Make sure you also include links to your highlight and match videos for us to review.
Mention something in your email about the university, or my program that shows us you did your homework. Remember, we get hundreds of emails a month; including a personal touch in your email mentioning something about our season, a huge milestone, or a news story about some community service we did that interested you shows you are genuinely interested in our school. This will definitely get your email noticed over the emails that come from recruiting services that are addressed as “Dear Coach”, we know were sent to about 200 schools.
After the initial email, can you talk about communication between athlete and coach moving forward?
Recruits should be consistent. If we respond to you, make sure to reply back. Even If you used a recruiting service and email blasted 200 schools, and we just happen to be one you are not interested in, reply and let us know. Most coaches use a recruiting contact management system, and we can see when and how many times you open and read our email, click on links, etc…
Lack of effective communication is a sure way to drop down a coach’s list, as consistent, timely communication is a necessity as a college athlete. We have a requirement of responding to any communication from staff or a teammate within 4 hours when we are in-season, so forming good communication habits as a recruit is very important.
How your attitude and character will affect your chances to play in college
What role does the attitude and character of an athlete have in their chances of being recruited?
I cannot stress enough that coaches want high character athletes who have integrity. Our program actually engages in character building exercises consistently throughout the year, as developing good people is our main goal as a program.
The number of female athletes playing volleyball in the states and internationally is exploding, as the sport has seen tremendous growth. There are too many talented players who are also good people and students. We do not need to take a risk on a player who could be a culture problem.
When we come to watch you play live, we are obviously looking at your physical skill-set to make sure you are someone that can make an impact for our program.
The other areas we are paying attention to are how you deal with adversity. The adversity could be from you having a bad match, or a teammate struggling. How are you handling that – in a positive way or in a way that actually makes the situation worse?
When the coach is giving instructions to you, or the team in a timeout, are you intently paying attention, making eye contact? Or are you on the periphery of the huddle with your eyes wandering all over the convention center, or joking around with a teammate?
Make sure that the energy you are displaying is a good energy that adds to the court and match, and doesn’t distract or be a detriment to your team.
Lastly, and this is not something that a lot of recruits realize is we can determine a lot about your character from your social media. One of the other things coaches will do in determining our recruitment of you is search your social media. Trust me, the last thing I want to see is a 16-year-old potential recruit’s social media with underage drinking and pictures from parties in every other post, or even 2-3 posts.
College coaches have plenty to worry about and consume their time with and having to be overly concerned that a recruit is going to be too much to handle on the weekends will deter us from recruiting you.
Additionally, foul language, or insensitive/racial comments will get you off our lists quickly, as they are red flags and something that could lead to your suspension/expulsion from the team or school in future years.
Athletic directors and coaches are very aware of the perils of social media and student-athletes, so we are all doing our homework. Make sure your Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and VSCO accounts are appropriate for you to get recruited.
Character and culture matters. Programs spend a lot of time installing and maintaining their culture. Having good character and being a good person gets you recruited to good programs. Having entitlement or red flags that indicate a potential culture problem do not get you recruited, regardless of your talent level.
What is a college coach looking for in a recruiting video
What advice do you have for recruits regarding preparing and sending video?
Try and send us more than one film to watch. Make sure the first 10-15 seconds of the film have something on there that makes us want to watch further. If you are an outside, I want to see some of your best attacks or pass to attacks in the first few clips catch my attention. If you are a middle, you should have a few really good first tempo attacks, as well as a few huge blocks in the beginning of the video.
A highlight video should be no longer than 5 minutes, preferably between 3-5 minutes.
Additionally, send us one entire video of one of your best matches. If we like your highlight video, we will want to see a full match to see a lot of other intangible factors that do not show up on a highlight film. A lot of what we are looking for in your match film is movement when you are not directly involved in the play, communication, energy, and teammate/coach interactions.
How academics should affect your choice of schools
How do academics affect the recruitment of prospective athletes?
One of the most important factors is the academics. Make sure the school has the major in which you are interested. A coach’s time, as well as the recruit’s time is precious. If you are an engineering or architect major and send an email to a coach at a school that does not have those majors, it shows that you have not done your homework, and are just blanketing schools with emails. That actually shows desperation in a coach’s eyes, or that you are just hunting for the best offer, not necessarily the best fit.
If you are looking for a high academic school, make sure you mention that in your email. Some programs focus heavily on the academics, making sure their student-athletes are not someone they have to worry about in the classroom.
Check an institution’s grading scale, as some schools (mine included) have scales that are 94-100 is an A, 90-93 is a B+, 86-89 is a B, 81-85 is a C+, etc… Even with that, maintaining a certain GPA (3.25 GPA as a team for my program) is a requirement. Make sure you ask what the academic standards are for the school, as well as the program since they may be different.
How should parents be involved (and not involved) in the recruitment of their child
What role does the parent have in the recruiting process?
I think each coach will have varying opinions on this subject. My personal philosophy is I like to deal with the recruit for almost all communications. To me, it shows a certain independence and the ability to communicate effectively on your own. That skill will be critical to your success as a student athlete.
Once I have an athlete on campus, I highly encourage the parent to be involved in some parts of the visit, especially the tour and a meeting we have with the recruit.
At this point, I need the parents to be comfortable with where they are sending their daughter to school. They need to trust that I am going to take care of their daughter in many areas and keep an eye on her when they cannot.
Parents have a huge influence on the final decision of the recruit, and trusting the leadership they are sending their loved ones too is invaluable in that decision-making process.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes as they navigate the recruiting process?
Keep your options open! Similar to selecting a club team that fits for you, selecting a college program is even more critical. Do not limit yourself from exposure or very good programs because you have your heart set on Division I or Division II, etc… There are a lot of very good Division II schools, and some not so good Division I schools. There are also a lot of very good Division III schools, and some not so good Division II schools. Some of it has to do with wins and losses, some of it culture.
Make sure you are finding the best fit academically, athletically, and culturally that will allow you to prosper and grow into the best version of yourself that you can be in those 4 years.
To see Coach Jeff Rotondo’s full bio, click here.
Next, check out: 5 reasons coaches will stop recruiting your child because of you
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