Davidson College’s Head Women’s Volleyball coach, Chris Willis, joined the Wildcats in 2012 and is entering his 8th season. After being the assistant coach under Lisa Marston for two seasons from 1995-1997, he spent seven years at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. When Willis joined the staff again in 2012, the Wildcats were in the Southern Conference, but in 2014 transitioned into the Atlantic 10 Conference. Willis’ teams have been successful on and off the court, having numerous players representing Davidson on the All-Academic Team for the conference.
When you are looking to contact Coach Willis, he suggested that the high school athletes contact him early during her sophomore year of high school by email or phone call. Willis said that would also be the best way to get on his radar. By writing a personal email, the coaching staff wants to know that you have done your research on Davidson and knew something about the institution as a basis for your interest. It is vital that you mention the program because the coaching staff wants to know that you know something about the Volleyball program.
When looking at recruits, he noted that athleticism is the most important quality as an athlete. Willis wants to know if the athlete has the ability to move their body efficiently and with explosiveness on the court which leads to powerful movements. That being said, it is possible to be turned down by your dream school. Willis wants athletes to remember that everything happens for a reason and that “your attitude shapes your experience.” He said it was important for athletes to enjoy your opportunities and not be afraid to explore your options.
Coach Willis specified the expectations he has for his athletes on and off the court. He said that a strong work ethic in the classroom and on the court are essential, along with the skills of time management to have a successful collegiate career. On the court, he wants his athletes to work hard during the summer to facilitate strong training and season in the fall, without having to start over. He also expects athletes to come in with a strong core and basic understanding of lifts in the weight room.
Willis was firm when he said that the first 20 seconds of the highlight tape could make or break your recruitment process with his program. If an athlete wants to impress him and the program, he wants them to “show me what you do best in the first few segments.” To make this tape as impressive as possible, he wants to see 5 minutes of highlights and then 10 minutes of a continuous game film. He also emphasized that he does not want you to not show the same serve from different angles or your coach hitting the same shot at you numerous times.
When looking to send out highlight videos, he said that timing of sharing the video is not the most important part. Early December would be the best time, but he is not concerned exactly with the timing. For Coach Willis, what happens after receiving the video. Staying in contact and updating the coaches throughout the club season will help with the process.
As for recruits, he suggests that athletes regularly stay in contact with coaches and stay upfront and honest about what you are looking for in a program. He believes that there are several great fits for athletes, but to focus on finding your best fit academically. He warned to not “get wrapped up in the name of the school or the winning and losing record.” In the end, your higher educational goal is to get a degree and college sports to add more to that experience, but do not define it.
Since the NCAA rules do change often be sure to check all of the rules before you start the recruiting process.
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The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
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