The antics of the current tryout window remind me of a great article called Before You Sign, written awhile back by a very respected member of our volleyball community. If you are considering playing post-secondary, it is still a great source of advice. It counsels asking questions to determine what you are really being offered by a school, before you make a commitment.
The geography is different, but the message remains the same. “Caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware.) The dynamics of the current OVA tryout window has created an environment where athletes have a lot of rights, which was the intent, so that clubs that historically took advantage of athletes cannot openly do so. But the current system has also created a pressure-packed climate that both clubs and athletes can take advantage of.
Athletes – remember that the purpose of this policy is to protect your right to choose (if given accurate information by all).
We are supportive of any athlete that is given accurate information and decides to pursue a different course with another club. We wish you best of luck in the future and will cheer you on! We agonize over each athlete who receives misrepresentations and will be set back a season or more. Too many athletes leave for great promises, only to return, disillusioned.
Make sure that you understand exactly what is being offered. Ask lots of questions and get answers in writing. Who exactly are the coaches for *my* team, and what is their track record? How many athletes have been offered positions, and who will be on the team? What will my role be? What does your program provide beyond the basic technical training everyone provides?
Do not accept an offer if you are not confident in the answers, and they are not backed up by the past behaviour and programs of the club. You have a week to do more research. A club and coaches that are being honest with you will not pressure you because they truly have your best interests at heart, a club that is not being honest with you will.
Who is the Coach, really? What if I am offered a position without any specifics?
We only offer an athlete a position in person by their coach for the season, and that coach will not change. Although the OVA offer form says that the coach and team is optional, that is obviously not in the best interests of the athlete. There may be no coach at all for my team!
If offered a position on a team without a named coach, don’t accept it. If the coach was identified verbally then write the coach’s names onto the offer form, and have the coach or a club executive sign it. If they are not willing to identify the coach… caveat emptor.
What is the coach’s and club’s history, track record and credentials with athletes at this age group?
What has the coach and club accomplished in the past, at this age group? (so the coach was sufficiently skilled at 14u, this is 17u, why is that relevant?) What programs did the club really provide for their athletes last year? How successful has the club historically been in achieving my goals at this age group? How many club athletes each season have gone on to compete post-secondary? If the coaches say that everyone will earn scholarships, and its not backed by reality… again, caveat emptor.
What is included in the club’s program?
Refer to our Apples-to-Apples comparison. Quality programs cannot be delivered at a discount. We budget to break even and openly share our fees and costs with our members. Because we exist to support them, not us. Do other clubs make this information available? If not… caveat emptor.
How many athletes are you offering positions to?
We explain to each of our athletes what we are offering, and their role on the team. I have heard anecdotally of a club offering 30 ‘starting’ positions to athletes at one age group, when the club had at best one or two teams last year. How can 30 of us start?
What if the coach identified on my offer form never materializes, or they intentionally made offers to too many athletes for one team? Can I rescind my offer/appeal my signing of the OVA registration form with the OVA?
I would find another club, and simultaneously appeal that offer/signing to the OVA as a misrepresentation of the facts. As a club, we would strongly support any athlete that does that. It is completely opposite our core values.