Every high school athlete who dreams of playing at the next level wants to impress college coaches.
But when you get the opportunity to compete in front of them, how can you stand out? Jennifer Darty, head volleyball coach at Oviedo High School and the 2018-2019 NHSCA Volleyball Coach of the Year, offers simple advice—be the best version of yourself, and don’t try to be anyone else.
“I think the main thing is be who you are,” says Darty. “Don’t try to be someone else because a college coach is watching you. Be who you are and be your best. Coaches are looking at what you’re doing on and off the ball and on and off the court. So just because you had a good touch or a bad touch on the volleyball—that obviously means something to them—but it doesn’t mean everything to them. Because how you interact with your teammates, how you interact with your coach, how you interact with your parents, your body language if you’re on the bench, how you’re supporting your teammates on the floor—are you high-fiving and coming into huddles with them or are you completely ignoring them? I think there’s a lot of stuff away from the ball that sometimes gets overlooked by these athletes when they’re younger, (and) being a good teammate is a huge part of what college coaches are looking for.”
Prior to big games last season, Darty had her players write down one word that they wanted to represent during that contest. So instead of writing down how many kills, assists, blocks, etc., they were aiming for, they instead focused on the energy and presence they wanted to bring to the court. “It was more of a ‘to be’ goal than a ‘to do’ goal,” Darty says.
Setting your own ‘to be’ goal before a camp or showcase can be a great idea. What kind of player are you? Passionate? Relentless? Focused? Tough? Energetic? Resilient? Playing flawless is an unrealistic goal, but being a positive influence on and off the court is a realistic mindset—and something that can leave a lasting impression on those who watch you compete.
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