High-SchoolVolleyball: La Costa Canyon

Cosy Burnett is a top 2013 volleyball recruit from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. She plays outside hitter and opposite for La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego. She has competed in the California State Finals and at Nationals for the past five years. She recently committed to play for BYU. In the latest installment of her blog, she gets top coaches to share their tips for high school tryouts.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
High school season is finally here!

I love high school volleyball because I feel like I am playing for something bigger than myself. Representing your school is amazing; it’s all about school pride and having fun competing. You get to play with your classmates and together compete in front of a home crowd full of cheering “Noise Boyz!” Your friends can actually watch you play without having to drive two hours.

Of course, we have to conquer tryouts, which is the most stressful part of the experience.

I interviewed three high school volleyball coaches from some of the top programs in the country to get their advice on how to prepare for the tryouts. All three programs have competitive tryouts with many girls vying for limited spots.

Here’s what they had to say:

Pat McDougall, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)


 
La Costa Canyon volleyball
Courtesy of Pat McDougallPat McDougall
What traits do you look for the most during tryouts?
We are looking for volleyball skills and physical talents. Height, speed and vertical jump are important for front-row players. Back-row players need to be quick and strong. In younger players we are interested in potential. In older players that potential needs to be realized. Attitude is very important. We want driven players who make their teammates better. It takes a combination of someone who plays volleyball because they love the sport and has the physical talent to excel. We're looking for players who respect authority and are easy to communicate with. We want girls who have the proper attitude to follow team rules and bring honor to the team and the school.

How do you decide between the last two girls for a team?
Attitude is generally the most important factor. The last girl picked is probably not a starter, so we need someone who will practice hard every day and morally support the team and be willing to help any way she can, even though she might not get much playing time.

What advice do you have for girls who want to stand out?
If you want to stand out at tryouts and you're not 6-foot-4 with a 30-inch jump, I suggest you hustle during every drill. Pay attention and be involved even if you're not the one being evaluated. Talk a lot during game speed drills and smile as much as you can. Girls who love to play are the most successful.

 

Jennifer Kazmierski, Lake Travis (Austin,Texas)


 
Lake Travis volleyball
Courtesy of Jennifer KazmierskiJennifer Kazmierski
How many girls typically show up to tryouts and how many spots/teams do you offer?
We typically get about 65-70 girls to show up for tryouts. We carry four teams with roughly 12 per team.

What are the main things you look for?
Skill, attitude and being coachable are all great things. I also look at versatility, how they work with others, competitiveness, effort and passion for the game. It’s hard to rate the intangibles, but they are so vital to a team and a program’s success.

When you are down to the last two girls for a team, what is usually the deciding factor?
Versatility -- can they play more than one position? Attitude and effort, and skill or potential skill.

What advice do you have for girls who want to stand out at tryouts?
Set yourself apart by giving great effort, listen and be coachable, hustle everywhere, and prepare ahead of time by being in shape and volleyball ready. Know the skills and characteristics needed for your position and be willing to play anywhere the coach and team may need you.

 

Brennan Dean, Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.)


 
Torrey Pines volleyball
Courtesy of Brennan DeanBrennan Dean
What are the main things you look for?
First, skill. We look for girls with the best skills and who can help a team win and earn points. Potential. If there is a girl who we believe we can train and can help the team throughout the season, we would want her. Also, attitude. We want girls who have good team chemistry, good morals and girls who other kids want to play with. Finally, good team players. Girls who think selflessly and focus on the team as a whole rather than only being concerned with themselves.

How do you choose between the last two girls?
Statistics. Numbers tell a story, and we may look at outside hitter efficiency, or with liberos serve receive. Attitude. Positive teammates are wanted teammates.

What advice do you have for girls who want to stand out at tryouts?
Don't come to tryouts rusty. Make sure to get in the gym with private coaching or camps before tryouts. That way you can be confident with all of your ball skills. You want to be noticed in the first day because by the time the last day of tryouts comes it might be too late. Wear something noticeable. Big headband. Bright shirt. It just helps to set you apart. Make sure to work hard and not only be friendly to the other girls but the coaches as well. Hellos and thank yous go a long way.

Good luck to everyone trying out for high school season!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on the merits of college camps – here.

Cosy's Corner: Go camping

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
10:28
AM ET
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a top 2013 volleyball recruit from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. She plays outside hitter and opposite for La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego. She has competed in the California State Finals and at Nationals for the past five years. She recently committed to play for BYU. In the latest installment of her blog, she runs down the benefits of attending college camps.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
Going to college volleyball camps is an amazing experience. It’s a great way to get noticed by coaches, get a feel for the school and meet some great new volleyball-loving friends. You will play about eight hours of volleyball per day, so come prepared to work hard and be sore. There are players of all different levels, so try not to compare yourself to others. Just focus on your own game.

Meet the head coaches
Make sure you introduce yourself to the head coach at the beginning of camp if you want them watching you. You can get a really good feel for the coach at camp. I like to watch how coaches treat their players, their recruits and the little kids. Watching the coach at camp may help you decide whether the program is a good fit for you.

Wear a bright headband or something else to stand out in the crowd. It’s also a good idea to show your volleyball experience with your apparel, so wear you club shirt or your Junior Nationals or AAU shirt to show the coaches what kind of volleyball you play.

They are looking for your talent and athleticism, so don’t be afraid to show them. If you can put balls away, then let it rip! If you have some sweet setting hands, then lay out the sugar! If you are a digging phenomenon, then be loud and aggressive and pas it up! Also, coaches like to see what hitters can do with bad sets. They want to see how you handle yourself and your different shot ranges. Hitters, be prepared for this because often college camps will have a separate week for setters and, like I was one year, you may be stuck with a middle blocker setting the balls.

I talked to a couple top volleyball college coaches who run big camps every summer. Here is their advice on how to stand out from the hundreds of other girls at camp:

John Cook, head coach, University of Nebraska: Work hard, look coaches in the eye, be coachable and make adjustments.Talk and be a great teammate.

Tim Nollan, associate head coach, USC: There are three things to help you stand out to college coaches at camps. First, have a positive attitude. It may sound simple, but a positive attitude toward yourself and others is a trait coaches look for. Second, effort. Try the techniques the coaches are asking you to perform, even if they take you out of your comfort zone. Coaches are always looking for players who are trying to learn more about the game. Finally, enthusiasm. You have to provide a spark for your court. Encourage others and drive your court to be better. It’s a trait every coach loves.

BYU volleyball
Courtesy of the Burnett familyCosy Burnett poses with friends at the BYU sports camp dance.
Check out the school
You get to stay in the dorms, eat the dorm food and explore the campus. You’ll be there during summer, when it’s quiet, but you can still get a good feel for what the school is about.

Make lifelong friends
You will be surrounded by tons of other girls who love the same sport you do. Take advantage of that and make some great friends. Room with someone random. Pepper with people you don’t know and introduce yourself to everyone. Sit next to new people during lunch. I love going to national tournaments and seeing or playing against girls I met at camps.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on her thoughts on nationals – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett blogWin or lose, nationals can feel like a giant end-of-year party.
Cosy Burnett is a top 2013 volleyball recruit from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. She plays outside hitter and opposite for La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego. She has competed in the California State Finals and at Nationals for the past five years. She recently committed to play for BYU. In the latest installment of her blog, she shares her experience at the 2012 USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships.

The only things keeping me cool as I walked back to the hotel last Friday in 95-degree heat were the ice packs secured to most of my moving body parts. We were so close to that championship court at the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships in Columbus, Ohio! Literally, we had our last game on the court right next to it. Fifth place! My thoughts were flooded with the “what ifs,” which only made me more upset.

Cosy Burnett blog
Things are always interesting at nationals.
I pushed open the doors to the hotel and looked around the lobby. Teams were scattered, waiting for their rides with tear-stained faces, glum looks and exhausted parents. I talked to some of my friends wearing bronze medals, and they were just as dejected as the others. One of their dads summed it up the best. “Only one team really goes home happy,” he said.

So why do we do this?

Why do thousands of people spend thousands of dollars, travel thousands of miles to a hot Midwestern town over the Fourth of July, and spend their days navigating through a convention-hall maze packed with volleyball thrill-seekers tripping over half empty water bottles if only one team really goes home happy?

I thought about this on the flight home and came up with the following reasons to explain our insanity:

1. Level of play
It is there and only there that we can really face the best teams from across the country. Teams rise to their greatest potential and the competition is thrillingly fierce. It’s at the GJNC where you test your physical strength and mental stamina to see if you have what it takes to reach that middle podium and have the gold medal draped over your sweaty uniform. When you get there, you know that you have beaten the best, which now makes you the best.

Cosy Burnett
A volleyball mom goes beyond her traditional role.
2. Always something new
The organizers do a good job of trying to keep things light at GJNC with photo-op corners and goofy mascots roaming the courts. My favorite thing is observing the crazy volleyball culture, which we’re all a part of. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s always something new. This year, I witnessed a volleyball mom taking her role to a new level. We were refereeing and I was doing books while my teammate was keeping score. After about 10 points, we realized that one of the moms was showing us the score on her iPad from across the court to make sure we were on task. I dared my teammate to flip the number for the wrong side. … Instead we snapped a photo.

3. National end-of-season party
We seem to completely take over a town, and we did in Columbus. The restaurants, stores, hotels, pools, ice cream shops and even airports are full of volleyball families. It’s like a big end-of-year party wherever we go. I see girls I met at volleyball camps, tournaments, recruiting trips, etc., and it’s so fun to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. Whether it’s celebrating a new college commitment (shout out to Grace!) or seeing a girl you spent hours on the sand court with two summers ago, it’s a great closure to the club season. It represents the lifelong friendships, which are such a big part of this experience for me.

So, it’s true that only one team goes home with a gold medal, yet most of us bring home something even more valuable. Every year, I come home with more than an overpriced T-shirt and bruises from unknown origins. Every year brings new experiences. There are tough losses, amazing wins, and with each point played, each kill, each error, we come home as a new person. Coaches always talk about how we have those “learning games.” I believe that every game is a learning game. We learn what it takes and if we have it or not.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on rookie sensation Kacey Nady – here.
Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she features rookie sensation Kacey Nady.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
This is my third and final blog on a volleyball player who achieved a high level of play (and college offers) after just one year of playing club.

I first saw Kacey Nady at Coast Volleyball tryouts last December. Since my high school team was still competing in CIF, I just came to watch. My eyes were immediately drawn to Kacey on the court. She looked about 6-foot-3 and absolutely dominated the net. Someone had tried to tip the ball over her huge block after being blocked by her several times in a row, and I remember her taking the ball and slamming it back over the net. Her athleticism was amazing and she jumped through the roof.

It was great to see a tall athlete so quick and light on her feet. The best part about watching Kacey was seeing what a great team player she was. She was positive and kept her teammates motivated, and her energy brought others up to her level.

Kacey has an amazing story. This is her first year playing competitive volleyball outside of school, and she moved out to San Diego to do it. Kacey, who plays for West Hills (Santee, Calif.), has sacrificed a lot to play the sport she loves, and you can tell that the volleyball court is where she belongs.

Meet Kacey Nady.

Cosy: What position do you play?

Kacey: Middle blocker for Coast 18-1 (Class of 2013)

Cosy: When did you start playing competitive volleyball? How long after you started playing did you get your first college offer?

Kacey: I played every year in high school, but it didn't become truly competitive until club began in December of 2011. On Dec. 6, University of North Carolina was the first to contact me and said they were very interested. So I guess a couple days after I began club.

Cosy: What came easiest and hardest for you?

West Hills volleyball
Jimmy Gekas/Sideline StudiosKacey Nady moved to San Diego to pursue her volleyball dreams.
Kacey: The easiest was connecting with the girls on my team. They were very welcoming and everyone was nice and friendly. The most difficult was adjusting to the speed of the game. At this level, the intensity is very high and it was a huge transition from only playing high school to now playing club. I had a hard time keeping up, whether it was transitioning off the net or timing the set just right. Many things were difficult for me, and I still have problems with some of them to this day!

Cosy: Who was the most influential person who believed in you and helped you get where you are?

Kacey: Definitely my mom because as soon as she knew I wanted to play club and follow my dream of playing college ball, she allowed me to move in a heartbeat. Many mothers would not do that for their child. Especially at the age of 16. We have a lot of trust in our relationship. She knew I could accomplish it if I set my mind to it, and I'm where I am now today because of her.

Cosy: Where did you live before moving to San Diego?

Kacey: I was born and raised in Yuma, Ariz.

Cosy: What were volleyball opportunities like in Yuma?

Kacey: Every high school had a volleyball team, but once the season was over for the high school, club was not offered in that town. So the opportunities to play were very slim.

Cosy: How did you choose San Diego?

Kacey:When I went to the U of A camp, coach David Rubio knew many people in San Diego, so there were many options. San Diego was the closest town that offered club, besides Phoenix. Also, I had a lot of family that lived in San Diego, including my grandparents, aunts and uncles. I moved up here and live with family friends.

Cosy: Is it hard to live on your own?

Kacey: Not seeing my mom every day is very difficult because she is the closest person to me in my life. She does come up to most of my tournaments, though. My entire life, I've been very independent, so living on my own wasn't too hard for me.

Cosy: What is your favorite thing about the game?

Kacey: I love that there is always room for improvement. We didn't start off the season too well, but with good coaching and the willingness to improve, we did. We practice so hard, then use all of our skill sets on the court that were learned in practice, and it is amazing to see the transformation.

Cosy: Where do you want to play for college? Already committed?

Kacey:My goal is anywhere in California that is Pac-12 -- Stanford, USC, UCLA or Cal. Right now, I'm staying in contact with the University of Oregon and I'm very interested in them, as well. But, no, I haven't committed quite yet.

Cosy: What advice do you have for those just starting the game?

Kacey: To anyone just beginning, I would say one of the most typical statements out there: "With dedication and perseverance, you can do anything you set your mind to." And especially, be patient! Whether it's with colleges or improving your game, things will come with time.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on rookie sensation Ashten Gooden-Smith – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she features a rookie sensation who is also managing diabetes.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
This is my second blog on an amazing rookie athlete who turned into an elite volleyball player in just a year.

I remember playing on the other side of the net of Ashten Gooden-Smith at the MLK Tournament in January. Her athleticism and power were astounding. It was fun and hard to play against her. She is a huge outside with a strong block, big hops and even bigger kills. I was surprised that I had never seen her before because she was such a boss. Lucky for my team, we have played Club West 17-1s multiple times during our season and they have always been fun, high-intensity matches.

During one tournament, my fearlessly friendly mother introduced herself to Ashten, then waved me over. I was shocked that she was only a sophomore at Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and had been playing for just a year. Because of this incredible achievement, I just had to do a blog, but then while I was interviewing her, I found out something even more inspiring about Ashten. She has excelled and accomplished this feat while managing Type 1 diabetes.

Meet Ashten Gooden-Smith.

Cosy: What position do you play?

Ashten: I play outside hitter on Club West 17 National.

Cosy: When did you start playing competitive volleyball and how long after did you get your first college offer?

Ashten: This is my second year playing competitive volleyball. My first year, I played with a smaller team because I am a Type 1 diabetic, so it was more of a health sort of thing. I realized that I could handle diabetes at a higher level of play, and that’s how I ended up at Club West. I got my first college offer when I got to Club West at the beginning of this year thanks to coaches Aaron Flores, Eli Cuenca, Kurt Vlasich, and Morgan Coberly.

Los Osos volleyball
Courtesy of Missy CoberlyAshten Gooden-Smith has thrived on the volleyball court while dealing with Type 1 diabetes.
Cosy: When were you diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and what has been the biggest challenge?

Ashten: I was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 7. My biggest challenge with diabetes would have to be managing my blood-sugar levels, especially during games. Usually before games my blood-sugars would be in normal range, but once I start playing my blood-sugar goes up because of adrenaline and a little nerves. Once my blood-sugar went up to the 400 range, which is really dangerous because my levels are supposed to stay between 70 and 150. Managing my blood-sugars is a real stress.

Cosy: Did you believe you could compete at a high level with diabetes and what do you do differently in managing it as an elite athlete?

Ashten: Yes I believed I could I could perform at a high level with diabetes. Even when I first was diagnosed, I still performed at a high level when it came to sports. Ultimately, I believe that playing at a high level is actually saving my life because it keeps my body strong and healthy at a young age. I need to be more careful in managing diabetes as a high-level athlete. In the morning I have to take a shot, which gives me my long-lasting insulin. Then before I eat breakfast, I prick my finger and check my blood-sugar and put my blood-sugar number and carbs I am consuming at the time into my insulin pump. Throughout the day I have to stay hydrated (especially game days) and check my blood-sugars during timeouts. I always have my insulin shot on the sidelines just in case my blood-sugar is too high. Yeah, it’s a lot of things I have to do; but whatever allows me to play and be healthy, I will do it.

Cosy: What would you tell other diabetics who want to compete at a high level?

Ashten: I would tell athletes with diabetes to never give up. And when you are having a hard time with diabetes, tell someone. Sometimes when I'm playing, I start to shake, which means my blood-sugar is dropping, and that feeling is the worst. I feel that sometimes I am letting my team down because of how my body is reacting to my blood-sugars, and that really makes me feel bad, and then I start debating if I should let someone know or not. But then I think, ‘Is this game really more important than my life?’ So I let someone know. I am not going to lie, diabetes and sports is the hardest thing to balance, but it’s definitely not impossible. Don't let diabetes be an excuse for not doing something you love.

Cosy: What came easiest and hardest for you when learning this game?

Ashten: Well, the jumping aspect of the game came easiest to me, if that makes sense. The hardest thing that I dealt with -- and still deal with -- is my arm swing. I just can’t quite get it yet, but once I get that down the whole game is going to change in my favor!

Cosy: Who is the most influential person who believed in you and helped you get where you are?

Ashten: There wasn’t just one main person who influenced me. My whole family influenced me to be where I am today. My mom, dad and brothers supported me from Day One. When I first started volleyball, I (stunk). My parents and my brother Anthony kept me mentally strong, while my brother Jordan (who plays basketball, by the way) taught me the basics of volleyball. Without them, I would be nowhere close to where I am right now.

Cosy: What is your favorite thing about the game?

Ashten: Winning and seeing the ball hit the ground on the opponent’s side! It’s so much fun getting kills from left to right.

Cosy: Where do you want to play for college? Already committed?

Ashten: I already committed to Cal Berkeley just a couple of weeks ago! Go Bears!

Read the previous installment of this series in Cosy's blog – on Breanna Barksdale – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she salutes all those special volleyball dads -- especially her own.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
My dad has always supported me.

When I was 8, he was the one who brought me out to the backyard and onto the sports court and made my arms bright red from so many volleyball “bumps.” I remember going back into the house with the veins in my arms popping out thinking “volleyball really hurts.”

He was the one who got me volleyball private lessons at age 11, which helped me barely make the lowest volleyball team for my age group at the best club. He believed in me.

Every September, my dad sits down with me and he helps me make reachable goals for the school year. He helps me have confidence.

When I was 12, he bought me a big blue board and told me to write down goals, and make myself a “vision board.” It changed my life. My dad explained that I should make a collage of pictures to illustrate what I want in life. Then every morning when I wake up and see those images, they will become cemented in my mind. I covered that blue board with my dreams: a baby blue convertible Bentley, an Abercrombie & Fitch model (as my future man), exotic places, my dream home, pictures of Jesus (to keep my faith) and photos of BYU volleyball. I had that vision board on my wall facing my bed, so every morning I woke up to my dreams.

Cosy Burnett
Courtesy of Cosy BurnettCosy Burnett says her vision board changed her life.
Years have passed and new boards have replaced the old ones, but I recently found my first vision board in the back of my closet. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the pictures and realized how right my dad was. I have already achieved a dream that my skinny, awkward 12-year-old self wouldn’t have thought possible. I will play volleyball for BYU!!

Whether it’s how to get a full ride to my dream school, pump me up, calm me down, or be there for me when I simply need someone to talk to, my dad is there.

It’s time to honor our volleyball dads. They cheer for us, they embarrass us, they believe in us, they fight for us and they sacrifice for us.

Here’s what some volleyball players in the SoCal Region have to say to their dads:

“To Brian, You are one of the most incredible people I have ever met. Thank you, Pops, for being at every 7 a.m. tournament and for teaching me what it means to be a genuinely good person. You've set a great example, and I only hope that one day I can turn out to be half the person you are. I love you and will miss you so much next year!” – Yale-bound Karlee Fuller, Wave 18-1, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)

“To Ken, Happy Father’s Day! Thanks for always coming to my matches and cheering for me.” -- Sarah Kramer, T-Street 17-Troy, Rosary (Fullerton, Calif.)

“To Jim, Thanks, Dad, for always cheering me on! I love you!” -- Courtney Crosby, T-Street 17-Troy, Los Alamitos (Calif.)

“To Kenny, Thanks for all the support you always give me. I love you!” -- Kalysta White, T-Street 17-Troy, Laguna Beach (Calif.)

To Jimmy, Thank you for all the support and always cheering me on. I can always hear, “Dominate the net, Brookie!’” -- Brooke Legaux, T-Street 17-Troy, Tesoro (Las Flores, Calif.)

“To Dave, Happy Father’s Day and thanks for everything you do for me! Love, Ash” --Ashley Swatek, Club West 18-Nat, Ayala (Chino Hills, Calif.)

“To Oscar, I love you so much, Daddy!” -- Taylor Scott, Club West 18-Nat, Claremont (Calif.)

“To Ron, Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for all the support you give me. Because of you, I am able to play the game I love!” -- Lauren Miller, Coast 17-1, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.)

“To Jeff, Happy Father’s Day and thanks for all the support you give me. I love you!” --Krissy Witous, Coast 17-1s, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.)

“To Mike, Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you so much and thanks for everything! You are really an amazing Dad!” -- Sydney Francis, Coast 17-1s, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)

“To Derek, Thank you for all your support! I love you and hope you have a great Father’s Day. You’re the best!” -- Breanna Barksdale, Coast 17-1, Eastlake (Chula Vista, Calif.)

“Happy Father’s Day, Charlie! I love you!” -- Christian Jones, T-Street 17-Troy, Los Alamitos (Calif.)

“To David, Thank you so much for supporting me at every game. It means so much! Happy Father’s Day! I love you!” -- Kelly Boutelle, Coast 17-1, Bishop’s (La Jolla, Calif.)

“To Chris, Happy Father’s Day, Papa! I love you!” -- Caterina Rosander, Coast 17-1, Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego, Calif.)

“To Mark, Thank you for supporting me in every sport I do! You’re the best and I love you! Happy Father’s Day!” -- Lexi Reddick, Coast 17-1, Del Norte (San Diego, Calif.)

“To Michael, Thank you so much for always supporting me in volleyball and riding! Happy Father’s Day! I love you!” -- Claire Manhard, Coast 17-1, Bishops (La Jolla, Calif.)

“To Bill, Thanks so much for being a great dad! You have always been so supportive to me! Happy Father’s Day! I love you!” -- Marin Longfellow, Coast 17-1, Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, Calif.)

"To Dennis, I love you Dad! Thanks for sitting through the long tournaments and helping me with my volleyball recruiting video. You are so supportive, loving and always know how to make me laugh. Thank you for setting an excellent example for me by working so hard at everything you do.” -- Alex Visser, EPIC 18-1, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)

Happy Father’s Day to our great dads! We couldn’t do it without you!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on rookie sensation Breanna Barksdale – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she features a rookie sensation on her club team.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
Recently I’ve been amazed at the caliber of “rookie” athletes we have in the volleyball world. Most of us have had long years of playing both school and club to achieve our skills, but there are some athletes who have just started playing this game and have already gotten college offers in as little as a year! I’ve had the opportunity of having one of these girls on my team, competing against others, and seeing more excel on different teams. For the next three weeks, I want to highlight a rookie player who turned into an elite volleyball athlete in just one short year.

Bre Barksdale, a junior at Eastlake (Chula Vista, Calif.), plays with me on my club team, Coast Volleyball Club 17-1, in San Diego. She’s a middle blocker. This has been my first year playing with Bre, and ever since tryouts I’ve been impressed with her athleticism. Not only does she jump through the roof, but she also has a huge hang time. Off the court, she is quiet and polite. On the court, she turns into a dominating beast. Her calm demeanor always helps me collect myself after a tough play. I can always count on her saying, “Don’t worry, Cosy, you got it.” I have seen her improve hugely throughout this year as she has turned into a clutch player.

Meet Breanna Barksdale.

Bre Barksdale
Courtesy of Derek BarksdaleBreanna Barksdale is a junior middle blocker at Eastlake (Chula Vista, Calif.) and plans to play at Cincinnati.
Cosy: When did you start playing competitive volleyball and how long after you started playing did you get your first college offer?
Bre: I started volleyball my sophomore year after my high school coach Erwin Macalaguim urged me to play. Within my first year, I started receiving interest from college coaches, and just after my first year playing I had received my first college offer!

Cosy: What came easiest and hardest for you?
Bre: Nothing came easy for me, but my athleticism helped me with my shortfalls. The hardest skill I still have some trouble with is blocking.

Cosy: Who was the most influential person who believed in you and helped you get where you are? What did they do?
Bre: Many people have helped me get to where I am today, including all of my coaches, teammates and, of course, my family. Especially my brother, D'Angelo Barksdale. He always encourages me to do my best and picks me up when I'm down. He reminds me to stay focused on the game but have fun as well. Watching him play for the University of San Diego football team inspired me to take volleyball to the next level.

Cosy: What is your favorite thing about the game?
Bre: Competitiveness! Playing teams of high caliber brings out the best of my abilities.

Cosy: Where do you want to play for college? Already committed?
Bre: I am currently committed to the University of Cincinnati. Go Bearcats!

Cosy: What advice do you have for those just starting the game?
Bre: Some advice I would give to those just starting the game is ask your coach what skills you should concentrate on. Work hard and openly accept constructive criticism. Volleyball is a team sport, so be a team player. Strengthen your legs, core and endurance to become quicker and stronger. And, learn from the players who play the best at your position And, to help along the way, live by my family motto: “Give everything your best effort and believe in yourself.”

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on playing when you're under the weather – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she shares tips on how to play when you're not at your best.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
During volleyball season, you try to take the best care of your body. You hydrate, eat healthy foods, train and condition. But what happens when you find yourself driving the porcelain bus at 2 in the morning right before game day?

Last weekend, this happened to me. It was 2 a.m., and the nausea was intense. The headache I thought I could sleep off had turned into a full-blown migraine. I hadn’t slept for the last hour and was writhing on my bathroom floor wondering if I had the flu. Since Excedrin was the only thing that could fade away my headache, I was up for the next two hours, loaded with caffeine. I was very aware that we had our first game, Day 2 of SoCal Regionals, in precisely 4 hours. What was I going to do? Should I bring a bucket for the sidelines? How was I going to play with absolutely no sleep? We fought hard the day before and won a very tough pool. We were all super stoked for playoffs the next day.

Well, my body somehow did it. We played six intense matches and I must have hit over 200 balls and jumped to celebrate another 300 times.

This week I want to blog about playing your best when you’re feeling your worst.

Focus on the moment
Don’t stress, and take each moment one at a time. After a long rally that didn’t go our way, I got back in serve receive. I really thought I was going to lose it and tried to breathe slow and deep. I just focused on the serve and what I could control about my own body. I made sure that I was communicating with my teammates about who had short, deep, etc., and – hey -- it worked. This time the plastic number flipped for us, and we won the set.

Gatorade is my friend
Drink water and make sure to replace your electrolytes if you have been sick. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’re hydrated. Just take small sips and eat whatever bits of food you think you can keep down.

Mind over matter
My friend, Anne Carol Ingersoll, plays volleyball for Harvard, and she told me that the times when she had to compete after very little sleep, she tried so hard to compensate that she actually played better. It’s crazy what your body is capable of doing. We train hard, and our bodies respond when we push them.

Let your coach/teammates know what’s going on
Don’t hide your injuries or illness. It’s not fair to you or your team, and the last thing you want is to get them sick. Be honest, but let them know you are willing to do what it takes. Your coaches will know when it’s best to let you fight it out or take you out so you don’t worsen your condition. Your teammates will be there for you, helping you out by communicating even more and looking out for you.

I learned that I can push and perform at my best even when I’m feeling my worst. Listen to your body, and if you think you can push through, just go for it. Might as well, right? Jump your highest, run the farthest and dive the fastest. See what your body can do.

Trust me, it can pay off.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – Parental Guidance required – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she explains how to manage crazy volleyball parents.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
“The score is wrong!”

All it takes is one parent to yell out that simple phrase and an avalanche of shouts, whistles, yells and arms frantically waving at the scorekeeper begins. And once it starts, they won’t give up until the score is checked and re-checked. The scorekeeper has 3.2 seconds to flip the plastic number before “Score!” is yelled. If she flips too fast and they don’t see it, that’s also a problem. And if she accidentally flips the wrong side, parents work themselves into a rabid frenzy.

We’ve all seen it; we’ve all experienced it -- the crazy volleyball parent.

Now, I consider myself lucky because my parents have to share their attention with my four other siblings, which has kept them in a certain state of sanity. Most of the time.

Usually parent “over-involvement” is humorous and harmless, but it can also cause problems with team chemistry and individual performance. Sports can bring out your best and worst. The same goes for parents. This week I thought I would write a blog on how to manage the crazy volleyball parent.

Stop negative cheering
The game from the parent’s perspective is always interesting.
-- Parent of the defensive player: “Why can’t we get a block? Girls, close the gap!”
-- Parent of the setter: “Come on, pass the ball. Let’s get a pass this time!”
-- Parent of the hitter: “Higher sets! Push it up!” Or my favorite, “SET! THE! MIDDLE!”
Guess what? We hear it, and it’s not helpful. We all need each other to make a play and we need support, not blame.

Make a contract
I was once on a club team that had some overzealous parents. During our team bonding night, we decided to make our parents sign a contract. We wanted to start things off right, so we came up with a list of rules. At the parent meeting, we had them agree to the following:
-- No talking to coaches about playing time -- that’s our job.
-- No coaching from the sidelines.
-- No trashing on teammates or coaches.
-- Only positive cheering allowed.
-- No yelling at the referees or line judges when they make a tough call.
-- No lectures in the car ride home on how we can improve.
The parents laughed, but we made our point and the stage was set for the season.

Communicate
Let your parents know how you feel. It’s great that they’re passionate and involved, but you don’t want volleyball to be the core of your relationship. I always enjoyed a close relationship with my mom, but sometimes I just didn’t want to talk volleyball. She was so excited to talk about everything (the recruiting, the games, the plays), but once I let her know how I felt, she gave me my space. I need to “process” after a long tournament, and the only thing I want to discuss on the way home is which In-N-Out Burger we should stop at. I like to have “volleyball free” dinners at home and focus on other topics with my parents. It helps keep a well-balanced relationship, which I value.

Parents want us to be successful and reach our goals. They mean well; they love us. But sometimes we just have to lay down the law.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how to prepare for nationals – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she shares five tips to prepare for nationals.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
Club volleyball season is winding down. Those 14-hour tournament days of florescent lights, deafening noise, lost water bottles and fleece blankets are coming to an end. We may have a regional tournament left and then we have a whole month or so before nationals. Whether you’re headed to Columbus, Florida or Phoenix, it’s time to step up your game so you will perform at your peak during your season finale. This week I thought I would blog on how to prepare to get the most out of your experience on the national stage.

Refocus
It’s normal to feel a little tired at this point of the season. Now is the time to refocus, make new goals and get excited about excelling. Talk to your coach about where she would like to see you at nationals and make specific goals to get there.

Be strong
Don’t get injured this last month -- you owe it to your team to be careful. Protect your ankles during long tournaments and avoid activities that could cause injuries, such as four-wheeling, skateboarding, or, in my case, riding a bike. Save it for your summer vacation. It’s also a great time to focus on your fitness routine. You’ll see results in your performance after a month of weight training … great timing! Stronger, fitter athletes perform better and are less likely to be injured.

Have fun
Team chemistry seems to be either at an all-time high or an all-time low at this point in the season. Either way, it’s important to reconnect with your teammates in a fun way. Have a team party, eat pizza and ice cream, and do anything that produces gut-splitting laughter. You will need good vibes going into nationals. Be positive and avoid negative talk about teammates or coaches. Don’t even listen to it. Spend your energy building up your teammates and supporting your coaches.

Keep organized
My volleyball shoes always seem to wear out exactly the week before nationals. I’m always rushing at the last minute to buy new shoes and then don’t have time to break them in. Evaluate your equipment needs early. I put my uniforms, good socks, extra spandex and everything else I intend to take in my backpack weeks before I leave so I won’t be crazy trying to find them an hour before the flight. My friend’s mom cleaned her closet and accidentally gave her jersey to Goodwill, and my friend had to scramble to borrow one from another team at the same club hours before her flight left.

Contact schools
Make sure to call or email your top 5-10 schools and let them know where you are playing. Find out if they will be there and invite them to watch your court. You’ve worked hard to get here; let them see how far you’ve come.

Playing at nationals is an amazing experience. It’s the highlight of the club season and it’s what your team has been working toward all year. Your efforts this last month can play a huge part in your personal performance and the success of your team.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog -- a Mother's Day special -- here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, her fellow players wish their moms a Happy Mother's Day.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
Volleyball moms are the best. They are special women who sacrifice so much. They are working moms who use their precious vacation days to go to tournaments. They are stay-at-home moms with multiple kids balancing it all. They are single moms. They are all supermoms.

Last year during AP testing, finals and preparing for nationals, prom decided to come along. I had a date, but no dress, and was in a state of serious panic to find one. I did not have a single hour to search for that perfect dress. So I did what any girl would do -- I put my head down and cried, thinking, “I guess I could just wear jeans.”

The next day I stumbled into my room at 8 p.m., exhausted and spent. I flipped on my light and was shocked. I looked around my room and jumped up and down. Hanging on anything that would hold a hanger were over a dozen beautiful dresses! Each one was different and had a pair of shoes to go with it. My mom had brought the store to me when I couldn't go myself. Needless to say, I found the perfect dress and didn't have to wear jeans. It wouldn't have happened without my amazing mom.

At a SoCal tournament over the weekend, I asked my teammates and some other volleyball girls to share their thoughts on their volleyball moms. This is what I got:

“My mom cheers for me, makes sure I’m well rested, and I know she loves me when she wakes up before 5 a.m. to go to my tournaments -- so lucky to call her mom.” -- Krissy Witous, Coast 17-1

“As a little girl whenever someone asked me who my role model was, it was never a famous baseball player or scientist, it was always my mom. There is no one in the world I could give more credit to as a caretaker, a role model and my best friend. I love you, Mom.” -- Caterina Rosander, Coast 17-1

“My mom is my best friend. I love her with all my heart. She is always there for me through thick and thin and has always been my No. 1 advocate when it comes to volleyball and life. I don't know what I would do without her. She's the first person I go to when I'm sad and she is my favorite person in the world. I love you, Mom!” -- Sydney Francis, Coast 17-1

“My mom is always there for me no matter what. She cheers for me and makes sure I’m wide awake before I play. She’s my biggest supporter.” -- Marin Longfellow, Coast 17-1

“Having a mom like mine means the world. She is always there when I need her. Waking up early for tournaments isn’t easy, but she is always ready to go. We have a good time together and she picks me up when I’m down. I love her so much." -- Victoria Dennis, Club West 18-1

“My mom has been a great volleyball mom for eight years now. She has sacrificed so much for me and supports me no matter what. She is the first one to comfort me after a good or bad game. I appreciate and love her so much.” -- Lauren Miller, Coast 17-1

“Having a mom like mine is hard to come by. She’s a firefighter’s wife and mother of three athletes. She makes so many sacrifices, like driving me to practice two hours each way 3-4 times per week, on top of working. ... She is a supermom.” -- Morgan Collet, TCA 18-Black

“My mommy has been the best mom ever and I am so fortunate to be given her by God. (I don’t know if she feels the same way.) She is my hero. Being a single mom is an arduous task and she makes it look easy.” -- Erika Conners, Coast 17-1

“My mom has woken up early to take me to tournaments, drove me to practice and even got a job to help pay for all the fees for me and my sister. Even with four kids, she makes it a priority to come to everything she can and support me. I love her and would not be the same without her.” -- Karly Shockey, Club West 18-1

“My mommy is always there to support me through my experiences. It’s amazing to know I have a special person in my life who will always be by my side whether it’s at the volleyball court or hanging out at home. Being a stay-at-home mom, she is with me 24/7. She is the best friend and best mom I could ever ask for.” -- Breanna Barksdale, Coast 17-1

“My mom is always there for me, sacrificing her time and money so I can play. She is my No. 1 fan.” -- Rachel Seals, Club West 18-1

“My mom makes volleyball fun by supporting me and watching me play. She always makes sure I have everything for practice and tournaments. Love you, Mom!” -- Lexi Reddick, Coast 17-1

“I can’t thank my mom enough for the countless hours she has spent in gyms, the long drives and the best salads. She is always there, the loudest fan for the team. She may not know the game well, but she pushes us to win. I don’t know what I would do without her.” -- Missy Pittard, Solana Beach 18-1

“My mom is here always cheering me on. She wakes up early, even on her days off from work, makes me food and comes to every tournament.” -- Jené Lee, Club West 17-1

“My mom makes my volleyball experience fun by always being the loudest person on the sidelines cheering for me and my team. She makes sure I have all my stuff, including food and water. She is the best mom ever and I love her to death.” -- Raena Borcuk, Club West 17-1

“My mom constantly cheers for and supports me. She never complains about getting up early and supplies me with endless amounts of food and drink. Love you, Mom!” -- Claire Manhard, Coast 17-1

We notice all you do, moms. We appreciate and love you!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how to prepare for junior year – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she explains how to prepare for your junior year.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
I had no idea how crazy junior year would be. It’s a tough year for academics, you’re busy with community service, weight training, practices, tournaments and, oh yes, recruiting!

Making a decision on college is, for many of us, our biggest decision yet. I was buried one week last month, taking my math final, studying for the SAT that Saturday, preparing for a tournament that weekend while still fitting in two recruiting trips. AAHHHHHH!!

I thought it would be great to write a blog on the things I wish I had known prior to my junior year. You can do so many things as a freshman or sophomore to maximize your options and reduce stress as a junior. As volleyball recruits, we need to do things on a different timeline from our peers, so get educated and get started.

Make academics a priority
You start high school with a clean slate, so why not go ahead and decide your freshman year to be a 4.0 student and see how close you get? We learn to manage our time with practices and training, so it’s natural to fit in time to study as well. It’s sad when academics keep an athlete out of her dream school, so be sure to keep your options open. Start taking the SAT/ACT early and take it as many times as you can. Scores should improve each time, and your top college choice as a junior may require high scores. Register with the NCAA clearinghouse as a freshman and talk to your counselor so she knows you need to meet the NCAA requirements. I know a girl who played for a junior college because she didn’t take the courses she needed in high school to qualify for a Division I scholarship.

Contact schools early
Start calling and emailing colleges your freshman year. Don’t pester them, but let them know you are interested in their school and fill out their questionnaires so they have your information on file. If it’s a school with high academic standards, the assistant coach is happy to talk to you about what grades/scores you need to get into the school. It’s good to know this early before you have blown it.

Visit colleges
I started making unofficial visits as a freshman. It seemed so early at the time, but it proved to be a great idea. By the time you are a junior, finding free weekends for school visits is challenging. It helped me to catch a vision of what’s possible and motivated me to work hard in school and practice.

Market yourself
Schools need to see you play. Make sure you let them know when your team is headed to a big tournament. If your team doesn’t play nationally, try out for a USA Volleyball High Performance team. The tryout alone is great exposure, and many college coaches are there.

You want to be the “full package” by the time you are a junior. Work hard now and you’ll get there!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how she chose BYU – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she explains how she decided to go to Brigham Young University.

When I was 12 years old, I decided it was time to make my entree into college recruiting. I looked up the phone number of the head coach of BYU (my dream school) on the Internet and called her and left a message.

It went something like this ...

Cosy Burnett
Courtesy of Cosy BurnettCosy Burnett poses next to the BYU logo on the back of her car.
“Hi, my name is Cosy Burnett, I’m 12, I’m 6-foot tall and play middle blocker for Wave 13-1s in San Diego. You don’t know me, but I’m going to go to BYU and play for you some day, so I thought it would be a great idea if we met. I’ll be at Junior Olympics in Dallas next week, so come by our court and watch our team win the gold.”

She didn’t come, as far as I know, but when I went to camp later that summer with hundreds of girls, the coach paused when she called my name and looked up and said, “So YOU are Cosy.”

Choices
As time progressed and other schools became interested in me, I opened my mind to a lot of different options and experiences. I was really lucky to have some great choices and flattered to have offers from the best schools and programs in the country -- schools that I would have never dreamed I could go to.

I had a coach from a top program give me some great advice my freshman year. He said to keep a list of my top five schools, and only five. If I liked a new school, I needed to evaluate it compared to my top five, and if I brought it up, I would need to drop one down. This helped me keep things simple and organized when recruiting got crazy. It takes a lot of time to investigate whether a school is a good fit, so make sure you spend that time on your top five.

Questions to ask yourself
-- Where would I want to be if I were injured and couldn’t play?
-- Does the school have the major I want, and will my practice schedule/coaches allow me to follow it?
-- Will a degree from this school help me reach my life goals?
-- What kind of support does the school give its athletes?
-- How do I fit with the team/coaches?
-- What will be my role on the team?
-- Can I see myself thrive and be happy there?

Time to commit
It’s hard to know when the time is right to commit. I tried to take my time and enjoy the process, but the pressure does heat up quickly. After one particular tournament, I was discussing the pros and cons of my top two schools with my parents. In the end, the deciding factor was going to a school where I would be the happiest. There are so many people who want to define success, but to me success equals happiness. In volleyball, in school and in life. I told my parents that I really wasn’t waiting for a better offer.

It was BYU … and apparently had always been.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – what to expect on your campus visits – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she shares her secrets for a successful campus visit.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
An important and fun part of the recruiting process is the unofficial visit. This is an exciting time and a great look into the school and program. I started visiting schools my freshman year, and I highly recommend starting the process early. By the time you’re a junior, you are slammed with time and there are literally about three weekends when you don’t have a tournament or midterms that you can actually see a school.

Here’s my advice on what to expect and how to prepare for recruiting trips.

A typical agenda
-- Meeting with the coaches
-- Attending a practice (either in season or preseason)
-- Spending time with the team -- may stay overnight
-- Attending either a volleyball game (if in season) or another sports game (if out of season)
-- Meeting with an academic counselor
-- Touring the training facility and campus
-- Doing something fun with the team

The overnight stay
If you are a junior or older, schools often set up an overnight stay with a player. If they don’t offer, go ahead and ask. If they are interested in you, they should set one up. The overnight experience is a great peek into college life and a unique time to talk to the players away from the coaches. You will be surprised by how honest they are when you ask about the coaches … it’s amazing! One great question to ask: “How does the head coach act when the team is losing or not playing well?” You can really get an idea of the coach’s character by finding out how he or she treats the team when it is down or when things are tense. And here’s another great question: “Do you have fun playing for this coach?” I love the game and if I can’t have fun, why am I there? I want to play for a coach who encourages a fun, positive and competitive environment. It’s also a great time to ask about academic load, social opportunities, campus activities and other things that are important to you.

The meeting with the coaches
Most likely you will sit down with the coaches and your parents. If you don’t have a formal offer from the school, this is when it happens. If you don’t get an offer, don’t leave the meeting without finding out exactly where you stand and what you need to do to be a contender. They will be honest at this point in the recruiting process. Some coaches use this time to tell you how great the school and program is, and others ask you questions so they can get to know you better. Be prepared for both. Tell your parents that you want to do the talking. Your parents should be there for support and can ask their own questions, but they should not answer for you. Ask questions about things you really care about. As for me, I always ask questions about what kind of service the team does together. I like the idea of a program that gives back to the community. Another question I ask is how the coach determines playing time. Coaches always have a lot to say about this, so you will learn a lot about their coaching style from their answers.

What to bring
Something cute, but comfortable. Also, it never hurts to be taller, so I recommend wearing “tall” shoes. I like to wear my Nikes because they give me an extra inch. You will be walking a lot, so the Nikes come in handy for more than being tall. Dress in layers to prepare for any kind of weather. If you are staying overnight, I recommend bringing extra clothes for that first day because you will often go out to dinner or do something fun with the team, so feel free to look cute. Oh, and bring some cash. Remember that they can't pay for anything unless you are a senior and it's an official visit. So if you want to eat, bring some money

Be yourself
Whether you are quiet, calm, outgoing or goofy, this is the time to be yourself. You want to make sure the school is a fit so you don’t spend the next four years trying to act like the person they thought you were. There is a place for everyone. Find yours!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on all the great things about being tall – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she shares her tips on how to make the most of your time on the bench.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
My first three years of playing club were spent on the bench. I once asked a high school coach whom I respected if it was better to play for a great team and sit on the bench or play for a lesser team and get the playing time. He thought for a while and said he was asked that question a lot. His answer was “Be the best player on the best team.” OK, thanks. I think.

No doubt it’s a very frustrating time. I learned a lot from my time on the bench and I want to share some hope to all you who may find yourselves warming the sidelines.

1. Remember, you are part of the team
You can contribute to your team’s success from the sidelines, and every award and victory the team achieves is also 100 percent yours. You work just as hard as everyone else and maybe even a little harder. Those reps you contribute at practice help make the team better as a whole.

2. Let recruiters know your situation
Before a big tournament, call the schools you are interested in and let them know to come and watch you during warm-ups. This may sound funny, but I did this and was surprised how many showed up. The warm-ups are your shot, so play hard.

3. Stand up and cheer
There is no need to sit on the sidelines with a long face. Go with it ... have fun! Teams feed off each other’s energy, and this is something you can do. If there is a big point, go crazy. Your teammates will feel your support and they will know you have their backs.

4. Communicate with your coach
Talk to your coach privately and make goals and benchmarks to earn more playing time. Find out how playing time is determined and make it clear that you are hungry. Then follow up with your coach to keep him or her honest. Your coach really does want you to play and to reach your potential – that’s why you are on the team.

5. Be positive
I can’t stress this enough. Just as you can be an asset to a team as a bencher, you can also be destructive. Do not talk badly about the coaches to other teammates. If your parents are supportive, great. If they overreact, be careful; it’s hard on them, too. It’s helpful to have a friend to vent to who knows nothing about volleyball. During the season, stay committed and positive to your team. When the season is over, it’s time to evaluate your goals. Be honest with yourself and move forward. If it’s club, you can always make a change. If it’s school, use club opportunities to improve for next season.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how to stage a comeback – here.

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