by Ben Boldt, Assistant Coach - Iowa Western Community College
Why would you choose a Junior College to continue your volleyball career? The term “JUCO” can carry a negative image with it for many people. In my experience, nothing can be further from the truth. Just like any coaching or recruiting decision there are several factors that lead into an ultimate choice. For those coaches trying to sell a program to potential junior college athletes (or if you are thinking about becoming a junior college coach), here are some categories that we focus on while talking to our athletes:
1. Opportunity. JUCO schools are two year schools. Every year approximately half of the team is new. The opportunity to play right away is much greater than the majority of four-year schools.
2. Scholarships. Many people wonder if JUCO schools can even offer scholarship money. The answer is yes! My experience has been with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). There are three divisions within the NJCAA – Division 1, Division 2, and Division 3. Division 1 schools may offer you a full scholarship which includes tuition, fees, room and board, and books. These schools are also free to break up their scholarships (For Example: a school may offer you $1500 per semester in tuition plus room and board – however they feel is best to use their money). Division 2 schools can offer everything except for room and board. Division 3 schools are not allowed to give athletic scholarship money. Also, regardless of the amount of scholarship money you receive, the cost to attend junior college is more affordable than a 4-year institution.
3. Timing. The timing of commitment for the majority of our players has been from December-February of their Senior year in high school. Obviously there are anomalies from that but in our experience the players we are identifying are ready to commit. We don’t have to spend as much time “wining and dining” them and waiting for them to make a decision. It’s either yes or no and we move on quickly.
4. Transferring to a 4-Year School. We understand that some of our recruits don’t dream about going to school at a Junior College. We are the “middle man” for the type of school that they dreamt about going to when they were younger. We sell the idea that we can get you there. If you aren’t there now, we can get you the experience you need to succeed.
Reiver Volleyball Transfers Six to Four Year Universities
5. A place for 4-year college coaches to send their athletes. We ask coaches at 4-year schools if they have any players they need to go to a Junior College to become eligible for the NCAA or if they need a player to develop for one or two years. There are a lot of coaches that want to do this and then have that player transfer back. In my one year at the Junior College level, I have had many NCAA coaches come up to me and ask me about the process of transferring simply because they have either not done it before or just haven’t even thought about recruiting that route. If you open yourself up to coaches, they will be willing to listen to you (especially if it can help them out).
If you are considering becoming a junior college coach, there isn’t one magical way to recruit. If you check out the blog post from Lindsey Vanden Berg on recruiting, you’ll have to do everything she suggests there. The main point is, you are going to have to work at it and grind it out just like you would at any other school. If you put in the time, though, you will see results!