Craig’s email address is: Craig@RecruitableU.com
“I can’t believe where my life has taken me. I am so blessed with a tremendous family, incredible friends and a vocation where I can make an eternal difference.”
These are the words of a man who understands the big picture. ”Whenever I tell people that statement, they look at me as if I am slightly delusional when I talk about my vocation making an eternal difference. Well — maybe I am slightly — but it would be for completely different reasons”, he says with quick and easy chuckle. Craig flashes his smile and continues, “I’ve never looked at my job as being ‘just’ a volleyball coach. I look at my job as helping people to answer one of the top three life questions. When you answer one of those questions, you’re deciding your path of destiny — and destiny is eternal.”
So what are those three questions? ”Most of your contentment and joy in this life and beyond will be determined by answering three life questions: What do you believe in terms of your faith in God — who will you choose as your significant other — and lastly, what are you going to do with your life at age 18 when it is no longer compulsory? I help young adults and student-athletes to answer that final question. I help them to figure out what they want in life.”
Craig is a man who believes in dreams and hard work. He rose through the ranks of coaching quickly where he got his big break in 1998 when he was added to the staff at Michigan State University. ”I had started coaching in 1995 and only three short years later, I was coaching at a top-20, Division I program. That was more than I ever could have imagined.” He uses that story when he talks to recruits, “You have to dream and you have to put the work in. So many people talk themselves out of accomplishing great feats simply because it is big and it will take some work. Too many people want all green lights before they set out to achieve their dreams. That just doesn’t happen. It didn’t happen in my car on the way over here to this interview, and it won’t happen in accomplishing goals either.”
Coach Vlietstra got his start coaching high school volleyball and assisting at a local community college for one of his mentors, Dave Hamman. ”Dave was the best recruiter I have ever met — period.” From there he went to work for the Sports Performance Volleyball Club out of West Chicago, Illinois for the club season. Craig found his time there to be a crash-course on coaching volleyball and training athletes. While at SPVB he met Chuck Erbe, the Michigan State Head Coach, at the Southern California Qualifier. That led to his appointment to the MSU staff a few short months later.
After Michigan State, Coach Vlietstra struck out on his own and was hired to head the program at Siena Heights University, an NAIA school located in Adrian, Michigan. He led the Saints’ program for six years and garnered the 2000 Conference Coach-of-the-Year award. During his stint at Siena Heights, Craig was also the Director of Volleyball Training for The Premier Volleyball Club in Toledo, OH during the club’s most successful years.
During the 2005 year, Craig decided he needed to expand his horizons. He moved back to the Western Michigan area and finished his Masters in Organizational Leadership. Due to the school demands, he wasn’t in a position to work full-time so he called upon a coaching acquaintance at Grand Valley State University to see if he could just help out. Who would have ever known that the 2005 season was going to turn into one of the most successful seasons for the GVSU volleyball program, and also help Craig to realize a lifelong goal — to win a National Championship. ”I was so honored to play a part in that team’s success. They were a special group of girls.”
After Craig finished his Masters, he got an offer to trek to the great, white North of the Upper Pennisula to assist at Michigan Tech University. Craig has fond memories of his time up there but the snow was just too much he says. ”I’m a beach guy,” Vlietstra says with a wry smile.
After thawing from his stint at Michigan Tech during 2006, he went to resurrect the Judson College (now Judson University) volleyball program to its’ previous levels of success. Judson is a small, Christian college located in Elgin, Illinois. There he crossed paths with his former club, Sports Performance, and that crossing changed his life forever. ”While at Sports Performance I met a certain young lady who absolutely stole my heart. Mayme helped me to answer that second life question. I’m now married to her and I literally have the perfect marriage. She is absolutely amazing.”
Craig’s time at Judson was short-lived though along with his budding relationship with Mayme. His old boss at Grand Valley State called upon him to come back and assist her for the 2009 season. ”It was initially hard because Mayme and I had a long-distance relationship but thankfully everything worked out.”
Coach Vlietstra coached for GVSU through the 2011 season. He “retired” from college coaching to start RecruitableU.com, a recruiting education website. ”RecruitableU.com is the culmination of my recruiting experience. I started it because I hate wasted potential. I can’t tell you how many student-athletes I’ve come across that settle on their college choice instead of being excited to make it.” Craig begins to speak faster and with more enthusiasm. ”I have met so many recruits and their parents who really could have used a tutorial on how the recruiting process works. Ultimately, my compassion for these recruits consumed me — and I had to do something about it. That’s why I created my company.”
Craig’s passion for wasted potential doesn’t end with coaching — or even with RecruitableU.com. I have a feeling that he will always be pursuing his mission. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife, Mayme and their baby girl, Ana.
Craig can be reached at Craig@RecruitableU.com