Cosy's Corner: Playbook for campus visits

By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she shares her secrets for a successful campus visit.

An important and fun part of the recruiting process is the unofficial visit. This is an exciting time and a great look into the school and program. I started visiting schools my freshman year, and I highly recommend starting the process early. By the time you’re a junior, you are slammed with time and there are literally about three weekends when you don’t have a tournament or midterms that you can actually see a school.

Here’s my advice on what to expect and how to prepare for recruiting trips.

A typical agenda

-- Meeting with the coaches

-- Attending a practice (either in season or preseason)

-- Spending time with the team -- may stay overnight

-- Attending either a volleyball game (if in season) or another sports game (if out of season)

-- Meeting with an academic counselor

-- Touring the training facility and campus

-- Doing something fun with the team

The overnight stay

If you are a junior or older, schools often set up an overnight stay with a player. If they don’t offer, go ahead and ask. If they are interested in you, they should set one up. The overnight experience is a great peek into college life and a unique time to talk to the players away from the coaches. You will be surprised by how honest they are when you ask about the coaches … it’s amazing! One great question to ask: “How does the head coach act when the team is losing or not playing well?” You can really get an idea of the coach’s character by finding out how he or she treats the team when it is down or when things are tense. And here’s another great question: “Do you have fun playing for this coach?” I love the game and if I can’t have fun, why am I there? I want to play for a coach who encourages a fun, positive and competitive environment. It’s also a great time to ask about academic load, social opportunities, campus activities and other things that are important to you.

The meeting with the coaches

Most likely you will sit down with the coaches and your parents. If you don’t have a formal offer from the school, this is when it happens. If you don’t get an offer, don’t leave the meeting without finding out exactly where you stand and what you need to do to be a contender. They will be honest at this point in the recruiting process. Some coaches use this time to tell you how great the school and program is, and others ask you questions so they can get to know you better. Be prepared for both. Tell your parents that you want to do the talking. Your parents should be there for support and can ask their own questions, but they should not answer for you. Ask questions about things you really care about. As for me, I always ask questions about what kind of service the team does together. I like the idea of a program that gives back to the community. Another question I ask is how the coach determines playing time. Coaches always have a lot to say about this, so you will learn a lot about their coaching style from their answers.

What to bring

Something cute, but comfortable. Also, it never hurts to be taller, so I recommend wearing “tall” shoes. I like to wear my Nikes because they give me an extra inch. You will be walking a lot, so the Nikes come in handy for more than being tall. Dress in layers to prepare for any kind of weather. If you are staying overnight, I recommend bringing extra clothes for that first day because you will often go out to dinner or do something fun with the team, so feel free to look cute. Oh, and bring some cash. Remember that they can't pay for anything unless you are a senior and it's an official visit. So if you want to eat, bring some money

Be yourself

Whether you are quiet, calm, outgoing or goofy, this is the time to be yourself. You want to make sure the school is a fit so you don’t spend the next four years trying to act like the person they thought you were. There is a place for everyone. Find yours!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on all the great things about being tall – here.