Welcome to Interview #34.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 1 Volleyball Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator of The University of Miami, Sanja Tomasevic.
Sanja Tomasevic joined the Miami volleyball staff on February 17, 2014.
Head Coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said of Tomasevic, “Sanja was a driven player and she has the same drive and determination as a coach and recruiter. She cares greatly about her players and is committed to helping them reach their goals while at UM and beyond. As a recruiter, she is well connected in the U.S., as well as in Europe, and knows the type of player we are looking for to play in our system.”
What are some ways that recruits can get you to take an interest in them?
Recruits can initiate contact with us through email or by calling us and letting us know about themselves and the tournaments where we can see them play next.
How early do athletes need to be noticed to have a chance to play at a major Division 1 school? When is it too late?
We are always looking for good players but unfortunately we have only 12 scholarships and usually we have kids committed early, at the latest in the early stages of their junior year. I recommend they send out emails as soon as their freshman year to all the schools they might be interested in and start getting to know those programs and coaches.
How do coaching staffs at Division 1 schools work together to put together a recruiting class? Who should prospective athletes contact?
Prospective athletes should contact any one of the coaches. Usually those emails get forwarded to the recruiting coordinator who will then decide if the athlete is someone that could impact the program and if so he/she will put the Prospective Student Athlete (PSA) on the list of athletes we keep an eye on while recruiting.
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the NCAA College recruiting process?
I wish there was some rule that kids can’t commit as early as they do these days, I believe that would prevent all the transferring that’s been happening last few years. I think kids commit too early and lots of times what you liked at 14 is not what you enjoy at 18 years old.
How do you use social media when recruiting?
On our social media we try to post things about our team, season and travel. Everything we think our fans and recruits might be interested in. Social media has taken over and it’s really hard to follow up with all the trends. We would almost need a full time social media person on our staff in order to be “cool” and stay in tune with the kids and their Instagram, snapchat… it’s becoming too much.
What are some things that would keep you from recruiting a player?
Red flags from their club and high school coaches and definitely someone who doesn’t have their priorities in line. We love our athletes to be goal oriented and driven. They have to be inspired to be the best they can be at everything they do, on and off the court.
How are your players able to manage academics and the demands of Division 1 volleyball?
We always tell our player that if it was easy everyone would be doing it. They have been chosen to be a part of one of the best academic schools and to play in the ACC. They understand it takes lots sacrifice but at the same time is the best feeling ever. Our athletes get lots of academic help from our academic advisors and tutors who meet with us once a week with the progress reports on every player on our team. I must say that most of the time volleyball coaches get lucky because we get those good kids and good students.
What should a recruit look for specifically on a campus visit?
I would recommend asking to meet everyone they would interact with full time once they get on campus. It’s important for them to understand demands and life of a student athlete at the particular university and get the feel for it. That’s the only way they will be able to make a decision if that school is a right fit for them or not.
Also I highly recommend watching practices and games live and seeing how coaches react and interact with players assuming they will be those athletes one day. They need to make sure that’s a coaching style they like or don’t like.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
There is nobody in the world who means better for those kids than their parents. They should be present throughout the whole process and ask the questions that kids don’t want to or are shy to ask.
Parents have been “recruited” many times in their life for different purposes and they will be able to tell the kids who is honest and who is just giving them a sales pitch. I am not a parent and I don’t know how would I do it, but I believe the parents have to be honest with their kids and that kids have to involve parents in the process from the get go.
Can you give examples of how meeting the demands of collegiate athletics has prepared you for life after your playing days at Washington?
Jobs never got more demanding than being a student athlete but at the same time it will never be as much fun as being student athlete. Managing schedules of a student and an athlete in college while trying to be a kid and have social life like most of your classmates do was hard but also something very rewarding.
We competed on and off the court. We had to be the best we can be in the classroom, maintaining a high GPA was just as important to us as getting those wins.
Those times prepared me for challenges to come in life. Timelines to complete projects are piece of cake, competitive and driven in all aspects, working on teams (our team had 17 different personalities and backgrounds and we completed one project), being on time (and becoming “time Nazi” how some people call me) is just a part of who I’ve become while at UW. I will never forget that time of my life and will forever be thankful to Pat Stangle for recruiting me to UW all the way from Serbia.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or volleyball players in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Enjoy the process and be as selfish as you can be through it all. This IS all about you and nobody else. Be on your own timeline and don’t rush into the decision that could be the biggest one you have made in your life.
Sanja Tomasevic joined the Miami volleyball staff on February 17, 2014, accepting an assistant coaching position.
In her first season at Miami, Tomasevic helped the Canes reach the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive season in 2014 and seventh time in program history. The Hurricanes, who finished the season 22-9. Miami reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Tomasevic helped develop several players to reach unprecedented levels of success.
Next, check out: Are You Sure You Are Really Being Recruited?
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