By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Convention Center is hosting the Junior Volleyball National Championships.

It’s a national volleyball tournament that brings in college coaches from across the country. What you learn from them is that the game of recruiting is getting younger every year.

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You can’t miss it, they are everywhere. The logos tell the story. College coaches from across the country trying to find their next roster.

“Yeah I think there’s somewhere around 300 college coaches here recruiting,” Northern Lights Director of Volleyball Curt Glesmann said. “The way recruiting has gone now it’s gotten down to the 15 and 16-year-old level now.”

That’s what strikes you, that they are watching games not of the juniors and seniors to be, but the freshman and sophomores to be. The game has changed in recruiting.

“I think the whole process needs to slow down. I would like to see us not even being able to recruit kids until they turn juniors, and I think there would be a lot more good decisions being made if we waited a longer time,” Purdue coach Dave Shondell said.

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But they need to build a book on each one, and they watch intently, everything.

“A lot of it is watching kids’ attitudes and how they’re performing whether they’re in the game, whether they’re out of the game. What their off-court demeanor is like as well as their on-court demeanor,” Concordia University coach Brady Starkey said.

That’s what you hear constantly after they’ve done the check on ability. They want more.

“The piece that cannot be underestimated is character. Character in the classroom, character on the court,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “You can get a sense for it, but it’s about getting to know the players to really tell.”

Because the key to a long-lasting program is the people, and that’s what they want to know. Who are they and what will they become?

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“The character piece is the hardest. You’ve got to watch them a long time, you’ve got to talk to a lot of people to find out who those kids really are,” Shondell said. “But you can see if they’re athletic enough in the first five minutes.”

Mike Max