This past weekend a handful of our 16U athletes attended the NCAA Final Four as part of the AVCA Phenom program. Below are first-hand accounts of the incredible experience gained from both athlete and parent perspectives.

Athlete perspective

“This past weekend at Final Four in Minneapolis has been an eye-opener. We went into the combine not knowing what to expect. To our pleasant surprise, we fit in very well with the US players our age. As part of the Phenom program athletes were assessed physically with a VPI test, and mentally with a character assessment. The VPI test consisted of agility, vertical, acceleration, etc. All five players had been training very hard to prepare for these tests and it clearly paid off in our results. The players also had the opportunity to show off their skills for college coaches at the Talent Showcase. This was very a humbling experience as every player in the gym was a rockstar athlete and it was exciting to play alongside such talented girls.

While watching the NCAA Final Four semis and finals we were blown away by the talent level of these athletes. After the game, the players were more than happy to sign autographs, take photos and talk to us. We also attended the Under Armour High school All American game. It was shocking to see the elite level at which these players, only a few years older than us, were performing at.

For many of us, we are just starting the college recruiting process and were confused and overwhelmed. After having the chance to talk to former All American players about their recruiting experience and attend a few classrooms sessions, we are walking away with a much stronger understanding of our options.

Overall, participating as a Phenom at the Final Four has been an absolutely incredible experience. It put me out of my comfort zone, allowed me to meet players from all over the United States and learn more about myself as an athlete. Besides being an amazing volleyball experience it was a great opportunity for us to bond as teammates and learn more about each other. We were so lucky to have shared such a fun and exciting experience with one another that we will remember forever!”

Parent perspective

“A parent’s perspective on a trip to the NCAA Final Four and AVCA Phenom combine with five amazing and talented young women.

It is has been a humbling experience to reflect back on our weekend together as 403 families in Minneapolis, MN. We as parents are traveling home with a new sense of pride for our daughters for what they have accomplished. The girls all worked extremely hard to prepare themselves for this experience and their efforts truly paid off. Amazing job girls!!!

There were too many takeaways to cover them all but let me highlight a few key experiences from my perspective:

1- Volleyball is an even more amazing game than I ever imagined. The talent level of the Final Four teams was simply incredible. We were treated to 3 incredible matches including a 5 set thriller in the finals that we will all remember for a lifetime. Wow!!! Watching Stanford win the NCAA championship for a record-setting eighth time was powerful. Also, the current and past coaches that make up the AVCA are truly wonderful people. It is very reassuring to know that our daughters will be represented and cared for by such high-quality people, should they choose to play volleyball as a student-athlete in the USA.
2- Our girls definitely fit in!! Having completed the Phenom program our girls have all demonstrated their ability to compete with the top athletes from the USA. The girls have now received a Volleyball Performance Index (VPI) which ranks them amongst their peers and also compares their current athletic abilities (speed, agility, jumping, attacking, etc.) to NCAA college volleyball players. It also informs the girls what they will need to focus their attention on in practice and in training to increase their ability to play collegiate volleyball in the future.

 

3- There are MANY more excellent choices available when looking to become a student-athlete in the USA then I was previously aware of. It was very educational to hear NCAA Division II and Division III coaches explain how their programs offer quality educational experiences with unique funding structures. They also provide an extremely competitive volleyball opportunity. One Division II coach explained how the top schools in their division often beat lower and middle of the pack Division I schools in tournament play. Athletes should definitely consider all of these programs when looking for a school with the best Geographic, Athletic, Academic and Social (GAAS) fit.

Without question attending the NCAA Final Four Tournament and participating in the AVCA Phenom program was a valuable experience for our daughters and us as parents. It was wonderful to watch the girls gain confidence and excitement for what is possible for their journey in volleyball. I believe they now understand more clearly the effort that will be required to achieve their dreams and have come away even more inspired to do the hard work and make their dreams a reality!!

I should also mention that I have not really taken much time to reflect on all of the fun we experienced as parents in Minnesota, MN (:D). It was totally awesome to spend time together. Thanks to Carsten we also get to know the head coaches of the other 403 Selects teams. Such an incredible group of people and so many great memories for us all :)”

 

More info on AVCA Phenom program

Phenom Program