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My daughter has played volleyball for school and club for 5 years. She is a 6 rotation player (she is a always the starting setter while running a 5-1 many games) and on every club team she has ever played on, she does not come off the court. She has made the top team every year but one. She has been caption of tree of those teams.  The high school my daughter attends is VERY political. They are one of the top reams in the state and actually getting to play on the court is a big deal. My daughter was moved up to varsity her 10 grade year, We knew that she would never get to play but we had accepted that fact. What we did not realize was the fact that she would never get to practice, she would get to do some drills, but when it came time to practice all she did was serve the ball, so the other girls could practice. By the end of the season she was ready to quit playing volleyball. All the 10th grade girls were told that if they decided not to play next year that there were plenty of girls to take their place. The spring works outs have started for next year (her junior year) and my daughter refuses to go. She is now training with the seniors in her club to go to the National championship as their setter, she will also be attending AAUS with her regular team.

My question is, will not playing high school hurt her chances to play college? During the school season she plans to help one of the middle school coaches with her team. She will still play club both her junior and senior year as well.  If I make her play for her high school, I am afraid it will kill her love for the sport. She is too good not to play.

Thanks you for your advice.

Concerned mom

Good afternoon!
Thank you for the message today, and thank you for visiting

A) Before I talk about not playing school ball, I am 1000% against the type of practice player that your daughter was last fall. I have coached 27 school volleyball teams and travel volleyball for 25 years, and I have yet to have a player who was nothing but a errand runner, glorified manager, servant to the starters, etc. I don't care if she was a freshman, or younger, or older, etc., every member of the team participating equally in practice is part of my team concept. ( and if I wanted them to be managers, I would've offered them a manager position! ) I cannot look at an athlete and honestly tell them that they are part of the team when all they do is service the starters. I understand coaches who want the starters to play together and have the non-starters service them; but, I might do that two times during an entire varsity season. Or I might not do it all. It's almost never necessary. That being said, there are coaches in my community --  and probably all over the country  -- who to do exactly that:  their varsity subs serve, hit, shag, etc. all for the starters. I've never done that, and I never plan on doing it.  (By the way, what happens when the few of the starters are injured, the 5-1 setter has a family emergency out of town, or a few girls are suspended for a match or two? My subs will go in and play well! Those other coaches' subs won't! )

B) some more of my philosophy:  In my opinion, no one on your daughters varsity team from last fall owes the team anything at this time. They did in August and September and October of 2015. But they don't in April 2016 and they gain..... until they accept a spot on next fall's team.   I say that emphatically because I want your daughter to know that if she doesn't play, then she has not let anybody down, AND she's not a quitter.  Why? Because at this time she owes the team nothing. Yes, she owes the team while she's a member of the team, but if her last day on the team was sometime in October of last fall, then for the next nine months she owes the team and her coach nothing. Period! I used to tell my varsity players, "For nine months you can play softball, soccer, basketball, play doubles, go to camps, play travel volleyball, AAU basketball,……anything your heart desires, because you owe me nothing.   But as soon as you accept a spot on our team at tryouts in August, you owe the team everything. The team deserves everything. For three months, you are expected to sacrifice for the other dozen members of our team."   I'm probably boring you, but I want your daughter to hear from this coach that if she doesn't play volleyball this fall, then she has done nothing wrong! Nothing! She will only be wrong if she accepts a spot on the team -- while other girls are cut -- and then she quits during the season.

C) Now here is the good news I was promising you!
* Here in Roanoke there's a girl who will graduate this spring and has not played school ball since the eighth grade. She chose to be a competition cheer leader instead. Her name is Carden Clark, and if you Google her, you will see she played on my travel team in the ninth and 10th grade's. The past two years she has traveled to a different city to play travel volleyball for a D3 coach. She will be playing at a division 2 university in the fall!   AWESOME!!
* Even more amazing, Jennifer Harvey, who graduated from high school in 2007, did not play school vball her junior year so that she could concentrate on her first love:  travel soccer. There were no   hard feelings, no retribution. Why?  Because Jennifer and the head coach talked over the situation in the summer, and they could not work out a scenario where she would be able to give both activities 100%. So she did not try out for the vball team that fall, thereby not quitting anything and maintaining a high level of athletic integrity!  Then, as a senior, after she had already committed to play soccer at a Division I university, she returned to the volleyball team!  The team won their fourth state AA championship in five years, and she was incredibly named the Virginia AA State player of the year.
I tell you the stories about Carden and Jennifer because in both cases neither athlete damage her reputation,  neither athlete hurt any teammates, quit anything; and, yet they both had success in finding college athletic opportunities!
I also share the stories with you because I want you and your daughter to remember that college coaches are looking for PACA: potential, athleticism, character, and academics. If your daughter does not play school ball, yet plays high-level travel ball for 4 to 6 months the next two springs , her recruitability should not be negatively impacted. And if someone ever asks her why she isn't playing school ball in the fall, she can just answer them honestly that she did not want to play school ball. But I beg you to tell her not to throw any of her coaches or teammates under the bus. EVER!!  Because, even though she's not playing and THAT won't affect her recruitability, her high school coach and teammates will repeat anything hateful that she says in person or on social media......and that WILL affect her recruitability. And it should!  Because those behaviors or an indication of a lack of character.

If I can help you in any other way, please follow up or email me at
And would you do a favor for me: would you visit us at I think you would love all the smiling faces!   Right now my 15's team is the number one ranked ˇˇ16's team!! in the Old Dominion Region! It's an incredible bunch of talented and high character athletes! You will also see on the website that we're directing 13 camps this summer! Maybe we will see you guys in a few of them! The 3 Expectations Camps in Virginia, California, and Maryland are the best vball camp values in the United States. I promise!

It was my pleasure to be in touch with you today! If we can ever do anything else for you please contact me anytime!
Coach Houser

p.s. 1:    I recommend that you do not force your daughter to play any kind of athletics, take any kind of classes, attend any university, etc. She's now at the age where she needs to be responsible for making those decisions, and she needs to deal with any impact of those decisions. If I were you, I would only say forbid her from doing something if it puts her in danger, or affects her health, or affects her academics.

p.s. 2:  By the way, after Jennifer completed her undergraduate degree, she played division 1 volleyball as a graduate student!  Yep, I'm serious


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Tom Houser


I can answer any type of volleyball question: middle school, high school, college, club, coaching, playing, etc. (I am not, however, a athletic trainer! If you have a knee, ankle, back, etc. question, I'm sorry, but please search for another expert.)

I will almost always answer your question within 24 hours.

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In the past 10 years, vball has taken my to San Francisco, Miami, Alaska, Pennsylvania, both Carolinas, and Salt Lake City. We can't wait to come visit you!

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32 years coaching varsity, JV, club.

You can see all about me at There are also free downloads for coaches & parents, and lots of smiling faces for you volleyball players!

BS degree from Va Tech in Math Education. MS degree from Va Tech in Secondary Administration. In the fall, I'll be starting my 31st year teaching high school math!

The Picture!
The picture that you see is the 2015 15's team that I'm fortunate to be a part of. We will participate in 10 tournaments: Monument (Richmond) in January, Capitol Hill (Wash DC) in February, Shamrock (Roanoke, Va) in March and both BigSouth (Atlanta) and Northeast Qualifiers (Philadelphia) in April. My teams have qualified for Junior Nationals in '06, '09 and '12. We can't wait for this season to begin!

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