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Recruiting Horror Stories by LRT Sports™ | My Coach Left Me

After months of emails back and forth, conversations at clinics, and phone calls, I had finally done it! I had verbally committed to my dream school, Wesleyan University, to play volleyball. It had everything I was looking for — great academics, an awesome campus vibe, and a great volleyball program. In October of my senior year of high school, I organized an overnight visit with my future coach to spend time on campus and getting to know my teammates. I was ecstatic to visit, and the entire drive up with my mom we raved about the school and how exciting playing for the team was going to be.

When my mom and I arrived at Wesleyan, our first stop was my coach’s office. As my mom peppered her with questions, I took a look around her office; I noticed it was covered in photos, plaques, and memorabilia, all memories from her 30+ years as head coach. Behind her sat a huge whiteboard filled with notes, drills, and diagrams — it was clear to me she had a lot of experience, this made me excited to think about my first season as a Cardinal.

As we wrapped up our meeting and I gathered my belongings, my coach exhaled slowly and said, “Madeleine, before you go meet your teammates, there is something you should know.” My heart sunk to the bottom of my stomach, and I immediately began to think worst case scenario. Had my acceptance been revoked? Did she no longer want me on the team? “I am retiring this year,” she said, “so I will not be your coach. We are in the process right now of finding a new head coach for the program, so we will let you know as soon as we have found a new coach.” I was completely shocked; throughout my entire recruiting process, not once did she mention the possibility of her retiring. I could not believe I was only finding out after I had already decided to apply early decision and ended the recruiting process with every other school I had been talking to. I felt utterly blindsided, mainly because I had spent so much time building a relationship with a coach that was never going to coach me. After the shock, the first emotion that rippled through my body was fear; suddenly all of my hopes and dreams of what my collegiate volleyball experience was going to be had flown out the window, and what faced me in the future felt so uncertain. Before I verbally committed I felt as though I had so much say, especially in what type of program and what type of coach I was going to play for, and I now felt trapped.

I tried to recover from this blow, but I could not stop thinking about it as I left my coach to meet the team. Walking over to the dining hall, I felt as though I was going to cry — the news felt like a punch in the gut, and I now felt more scared than excited about applying early decision. When I walked into the dining hall, however, I was greeted by one of my teammates, Sarah, who immediately ran over to me and gave me a huge hug. She welcomed me with open arms and brought me over to the rest of the team, who were all sitting together in the dining hall. Even though I was staring at 12 unfamiliar faces, everyone was smiling at me and immediately made me feel so welcomed; they asked me about my interests, gave me advice on what classes to take, and made me feel included in all of their inside jokes. They were all so approachable and kind, which eased my worries about the change in coaching staff — even if I didn’t know who would be coaching me, I at least knew I would be surrounded by an inclusive and friendly group of girls.

While I briefly considered not applying early decision after finding out about the coaching change, I ultimately decided to apply. A few months after getting accepted to Wesleyan I found out who the new coach was — he was previously the head coach of Roger Williams College. He had transformed their program for the better and was now coming to bring the same winning culture to Wesleyan. To this day, I am so grateful that I still decided to apply to Wesleyan, and I now have a great group of teammates and an awesome head coach.

LRT Sports Coach of the Month | Bentley University Women’s Basketball Barbara Stevens
LRT Sports Athlete of the Month of January 2018, Brendan Burns

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