Play it Forward: Recapping Episode Three with Austin Junior Volleyball Association’s Michael Garcia

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In case you missed our announcement: Play It Forward is a new podcast series dedicated to highlighting some brightest voices in our community. We have recruited five youth sports leaders that use LeagueApps to run their organizations, plus a retired NBA champion, to share their stories and wisdom. If you’d like to catch up on the first two episodes in our series check out our library, or stream directly from Spotify or Apple Podcasts

In this week’s installment, our host Gary Belsky sat down with the senior director of programming for the Austin Junior Volleyball Association, Michael Garcia. Throughout his illustrious 22-year coaching career, he has guided countless players through the junior circuit, helping secure hundreds of college scholarships. The collegiate pipeline he helped build down in the Lone Star State explains why the Austin Junior program is sought out by some of the most talented youth volleyball players in the country. 

Whether you’re an up-and-comer or a veteran in the youth volleyball ranks, this fifteen-minute podcast provides a level of insight into roster building that is sure to improve your program. You can access our episode “Attracting and Retaining Players With Michael Garcia” by clicking here, or if you’re looking for a quick executive summary scroll down to read our write-up below. 


Michael Garcia’s three main tips for attracting and retaining players.


Tip #1:The secret weapon in player recruitment: your current players

A common misconception is that the top youth programs either recruit solely via their staff or spend an arm and a leg marketing to the outside world. The reality is that players like hearing from their peers. When his program looked to replace its setter last year, Garcia consulted with his players and shared who he believed the team should target. The team felt the said player wasn’t the right fit and offered an alternative. Garcia valued their opinion and with the full buy-in of the team, he left the outreach to his athletes. This recruiting strategy has not only succeeded in the program attracting talented players but also players that fit their culture


Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to go back to basics 

Club volleyball is exploding in the US, particularly in Austin, a city that has seen a 4x increase in programs over the last two decades. To compete with the new clubs, Garcia had to be willing to evolve and keep pace with the times. But that doesn’t mean he lost sight of the basics: communication and customer service. Thanks to LeagueApps, programs have the ability to communicate seamlessly with players and parents via email and text. But there’s a difference between having the capability and consistently utilizing it. Building and maintaining channels of communication is a way to demonstrate your level of sophistication as a program. In an era of instant gratification—and instant notification—if you’re not hitting the mark in terms of communication every single day, you’re setting yourself up for failure. 


Tip #3: Drop the sales pitch

Parents are more sophisticated today, plain and simple. They know they have options for their sons and daughters when it comes to youth sports. That’s why it’s important to be transparent. The Austin Junior program, for example, places an emphasis on learning the sport and playing different positions at the 11-year-old level. For some parents, that’s ideal, while others would like a more competitive experience for their children right away. Garcia makes sure to detail his program’s offerings and his competitors’ offerings in a straightforward manner every time he speaks to a prospective parent or player. Building goodwill, whether they choose his program or another, is how they earned a sterling reputation. Set featured image


For more from Mike Garcia, click here for the full podcast episode






This piece was written by a member of the LeagueApps content team.