Howard will send a coach to specific qualifiers or tournaments that allows them to see a large population of athletes who fit their demographics. The recruitment budget was small when Kupferberg arrived at Howard, however one of his first requests was the flexibility to move some budget allotments to recruitment. “It was very important for us to be able to get out and find the athletes who would help make Howard the program we envisioned,” said Kupferberg.
The largest volleyball playing population for African-Americans appears to be Texas, so Texas qualifiers and tournaments are promising for the Bison. The program early on also found success in Louisiana. “Of course we are evaluating talents and athleticism as quick as possible to determine if these young ladies would be a good fit for our program,” shared Kupferberg. There is another important piece that comes into play when discussing Howard and volleyball; the large academic component.
As mentioned in the first feature, the university is one of the top 100 academic universities in the country. “It’s a numbers game we are playing”, started Kupferberg. “Not only is the percentages small for the girls who will be able to go from playing high school to college, we are also targeting the top 5 to 10% academically African-American players so the percentage goes down to about 2-3%.”
Howard is a private, selective university so there are academic realities which include getting accepted to the institution. That is where much of the education comes into play. “We have to convey and introduce to many the Howard experience; from explaining what a HBCU is, to the prestige of our alumni, to the success our volleyball program has achieved,” mentioned Kupferberg.
The Howard experience can be important and powerful for these young ladies. For most, they are often the only young lady of color on their teams in both club and high school. Not only at Howard will they find fourteen or fifteen girls who play volleyball and look like them but other young adults who look like them that are pursuing careers in medicine, law, or business to name a few of their highly recognized programs.
Like almost all programs a key is getting prospective prospects to campus. Once they get there it really does a good job of selling itself. “It’s powerful for a recruit to see kids who look like them walking around in lab coats or in a business suit heading to an internship. There is a sense of empowerment you will find on the campus from the accomplishments of an enormous alumni base from presidential candidate Kamala Harris, actor of the hit television show Blackish Anthony Anderson, and music and fashion mogul Sean Combs.
The volleyball program is able to offer twelve scholarships. That is in line with Division 1 volleyball and being a headcount sport. This was not always the case at Howard and something that’s progressed over time and again shows the progression of the program and support of the administration.
Howard’s budget does allow for official visits but they have to be a little pickier on how to utilize those compared to some schools due to budget but they understand the importance of getting athletes on campus to see it for themselves. The beauty of Howard is the amount of learning you can obtain off of campus by just being in the nation’s capital.
“We’ve done well in recruitment over the years and get young ladies from many different states,” said Kupferberg. “Of course, winning games and getting to the NCAA tournament has helped us. The opportunity to go on an international trip is appealing. The fact with us being a HBCU and hosting teams like Stanford, Penn State, and others make people more aware of what we are doing,” he added. “The true beauty is we find kids on the main courts, we find kids playing in the basements and far corners at qualifiers. These are girls from the smaller teams and clubs some may never have heard of but we find the perfect kids for Howard University and once they arrive they begin the path to a successful future.”
Howard Bison 2018 roster by state
Texas – 6
Michigan – 2
California - 1
Nevada – 1
Colorado – 1
Minnesota – 1
Georgia – 1
Florida – 1
South Carolina – 1
North Carolina – 1
New Jersey – 1