The growing game of women’s volleyball has certainly brought positives to the lives of young girls.
There are more opportunities for females to play sports than ever before. This brings more opportunity to be physically active, to be challenged in life, to interact and work with others. An opportunity to learn how to lead and to learn how to be a part of something outside of themselves. Many of these being what coaches describe as “life- skills”.
But then, the cons of the growing sports world…
Like young kids who are being pressured to decide where they will spend the most influential years of their lives (college), when they are 14, 15, or 16 years old.
Like children being told or encouraged to “focus on one sport”, assuming that is what the college athletes before them did.
Children being told to spend all their free time playing or doing extra training, and to expect to play college sports just because they are.
Since apparently we are at a time where 12 year olds are being ‘recruited’ and where more parents than ever think their child is bound to play in college… I wanted to spend some time sharing what I learned from my recruiting experiences, college career, and beyond. As I look back now and put my player role away and look onto the club volleyball scene with the role of a coach, I see so many girls struggling.
I see them struggling with the pressures of recruiting. The pressures of being expected to pick the best program possible instead of the school they felt was academically exciting. The pressure of their other athlete peers who find it a competition to see who is going to the “better” program, the Ivy League school, or the Division 1 institution. The pressure of young players who are already getting asked what schools have contacted them, or where they are ‘committed’ to – when maybe they don’t even know if they like playing enough to want to play in college.
My advice to the athlete is this:
Stop comparing yourselves and your “accomplishments” to other athletes. Each of you is bound to go through some good times, and some really bad ones while you’re in college. Some of you will probably quit, some of you will transfer, and some of you will make it all the way through. But the more you base your decision off of what school will be the most impressive to everyone who asks, and not based off what YOU need, the more miserable you will be.
Choose a place where YOU- as a player, a person, a student – will THRIVE during the ‘best years of your life’. Dont just check the box.
Your child MAY NOT BE A COLLEGE ATHLETE. (I said it.) Your kid may not even WANT to play in college. But pushing extra training, weight lifting, and private lessons, while still expecting them to keep perfect grades, and forcing your 11-year-old to never touch a piece of pizza, will only make them ill-prepared for the future. If they’re not driven to do the extra training that can take them to the next level on their own, when they get to college athletics they will just crash and burn. Dont force it on someone. There are endless opportunities for what someone can become besides a college athlete- life goes on.
Oh, and also – It’s okay to take breaks. No one’s scholarship ever rode on whether or not they took a couple of days off in the summer. Give their body the break that it needs- they’re still kids, and it will help keep their love for the game alive!
The growing opportunities for females in college sports is exciting, but it does not mean it is meant for everyone. At the end of the day, it is all just a game. A game that no matter where or for how long you play… will teach, motivate, and inspire future women.