Technically speaking, Allie Wheeler didn’t make a dime in her two years as a volunteer assistant coach at Cal Poly. Already, however, just a year out from leaving the Mustangs and her role as Todd Rogers’ volunteer, she’s seeing the return on that investment.
“I had a lot of parents of athletes come up to me and say ‘Hey, you’ve been such a great mentor to my kid, do you do recruiting services?’ ” said Wheeler, a 24-year-old living in Hermosa Beach. “I got a lot of questions about it because I’ve been a college coach and I’ve been through the recruiting process.
“I said ‘No I don’t right now,’ but I was getting so much interest in it, I said I really need to start something up.”
Typically during these months of the year, Wheeler would have very little free time to do so. A full-time player on the AVP Tour, she’d have been hopping from coast to coast, Austin to New York, Seattle to Hermosa, Chicago to Hawai’i. But with the AVP season postponed indefinitely, time suddenly came in ample supply.
“Especially with COVID-19, athletes are going to need scholarships and help getting recruited so much more than they have been before,” said Wheeler, a three-time national champion at USC whose career-high professional finish is a second at p1440’s Huntington Beach event. “The need is really, really present right now.
“Coaches are going to be struggling to see the athletes, since none of the athletes are able to get in front of the coaches right now, so it’s going to be even more competitive. I saw that opportunity especially during this downtime and I said this is absolutely perfect timing to launch this.”
Wheeler learned how to build a website, how to form an entity, and launched AW Consulting. It’s one part recruiting, one part consulting, one part coaching, one part mentoring, helping athletes navigate an increasingly murky road of recruitment and how to market themselves to college coaches. If there is someone to launch a business with those core elements, Wheeler would be the one.
The 5-foot-11 product of Saratoga, California, is young enough to empathize with the current climate of high school and collegiate sports, able to walk athletes through all stages of the recruitment process. Talented enough on the beach, proven by more than $30,000 in prize money and a World Championship 4 vs. 4 title at the World Beach Games, to coach athletes seeking to take the next step. Educated by two excellent institutions — she majored in international relations with an entrepreneurship minor at USC and earned a masters in business administration at Poly — to provide business acumen and savvy.
Perhaps the best part: She’s meeting a demand in the market few realized was even there.
“For beach volleyball, there are not many people doing this,” said Wheeler, who got Volleyball Magazine national honors while an indoor star at Archbishop Mitty in San Jose. “Some clubs will outsource their recruiting coordinator and then there’s indoor, they have a ton of recruiting coordinators, but I mostly specialize in beach volleyball because of the contacts I have in the sport.
“So right now, it’s pretty much myself and a lot of clubs — the coaches aren’t wanting to deal with the recruiting process. They have so much other stuff to deal with and it’s not their priority. If I can add value in that aspect and help their girls get recruited, it’s a win-win scenario.
“I have such a huge passion helping athletes and helping others reach their goals. It’s super worth it and rewarding.”