Sunday, August 26, 2012

School sports and club sports

Check out comment section for additional comments
The following was posted below in the comment section:
"Concerned Parent said...

I'm all for the 2 and 3 sport athlete. But today with club sports dominating the culture of today's high school athlete while demanding tens of thousands of dollars it is no wonder parents listen to who they are paying and receiving the sales pitch from.

Club soccer (club anything really) has taken over. To ask student athletes to play a full commitment to the club soccer schedule, race and practice as a high school runner, take a full academic load, etc. in my opinion is too much.

You cannot fully give 100% to either team. You miss practices, or come late. And as much "understanding" as there is it will eventually creat a culture of "unfairness." I cannot speak to this case but in general athletes at this age should not do two sports simultaneously. It is not healthy.

As a parent it is my belief this is too much. At some point you need to teach your children to make decisions. I see too many kids at high academic school stressed and over committed. I see them drug every which way for meaningless team points. I am sure she wants to but is it right? Again, not my child but I think kids need to learn you can't do it all. It's why CCS has rules about not being in a club the same time you are in season. It is too much!"


ghpadd said...

Lets take a look into the financial future about 10 our public schools. There will be no sports due to the cost of maintaining the facilities, paying coaches, insurance, replacement, etc. The US is heading towards the club sport model as is currently seen in Europe. As far as costs...if you are paying thousands of dollars for a club are not setting a good example for your child. Example...Joining the Buffalo Chips Running Club for one year $25, USA Track and Field Membership $30. The rest of the costs depend on the level of involvement or commitment of the parent. Under the $55 a year club fees as noted above, the Chips had 12 National Champion High School XC teams and 125 All Americans (top 25 in the National Championship) in a 7-year span. Four coaches, 1 Pediat. DR. and a love of the sport can go further than throwing money at your kids. If this small club was able to do what a high school cannot, imagine the potential when considering dwindling school budgets.

Don't get me wrong, I am a product of GREAT coaches in High School. There is a lot of talent there. It's just that the model has changed and we need to grasp it and understand what changes are coming so that we can continue to raise and support athletes during their formative youth years.

John said...

FWIW regarding club soccer, most non-Americans will tell you why it isn't working to elevate the men's team to a World power. Even the current national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn't a fan of a system which emphasizes lots of games and tournaments (so kids can be seen by college coaches) over long-term developments of skills.

Anonymous said...

RE the European club model...

One might argue that the club model in the UK has harmed the state of track and field for their country. As a friend of someone who competed in the club system there he is of the belief that it is a direct result of their poor performances the last 2 decades.

High School sports is a money maker, and will not die. Lookat what happened on the East Side School District. Perhaps parents will have to pay to participate but it will not die. In the private schools sports are stronger than ever.

Albert Caruana said...

John good point although that is a whole new topic.

I am fairly certain that most coaches are dealing with students who do something else outside of their academic requirements. How do you deal with those students? Are you flexible or not?

Anonymous said...

As a parent of 2- and 3-season student athletes, I find lots of coach support for academics and religious involvement but none for any other outside activity. I can't blame them - there is no time for anything else.

I don't believe it is good for the kids to be doing more than one sport at a time (e.g. preseason winter sports workouts/club teams during fall XC season) as I believe it leads to overtraining/increased risk of injury and just pure exhaustion.

My kids love their sports but one at a time, please!

Alex said...

As someone who always focused on one sport at a time, I always found it annoying when fellow teammates would miss a practice or potentially a game because they had another practice. For one, that is not how a cohesive team should work. Thankfully, my XC and Track distance coach does not tolerate that. If a kid misses one practice for another, they are making their priorities clear and that isn't helping anyone on the team they're skipping out on.

At the high school varsity level, it is well within a coach's right to ask that a kid gives it their all to one sport at a time. By "all" I mean not splitting it with another sport. If I were a coach, I wouldn't tolerate anything less.

If an aspiring coach was looking for advice on the subject, I'd say if you want to build a program, don't tolerate the two-sport-in-one-season kids and make it known that their after school time should be dedicated to that team and schoolwork. Call me harsh, but as a captain, that's what I expected from my teammates and it saw some remarkable results.

Anonymous said...

long live the Pleasanton Heat

Anonymous said...

I know a few kids on my XC team that juggled both soccer and XC for a little while. You are right in saying that it is hard for the kids to put 100% into both sports. There would be a lot of XC practices missed for soccer games and vice versa. Honestly, it gets really hard to truly devote yourself to one or the other and you will have to choose if you really want to improve on one of the sport. There are a few exceptions, Sarah Robinson (from Gunn High School) is an incredible XC runner but is also on the U17 National Soccer team. You do have to wonder when she has time to go to school and do homework, but there is definitely an athlete that is great at both sports. I love both sports and played soccer all the way through my 8th grade year. But I realized that it would be physically hard for me to do both sports at the same time and I had to choose. I definitely made the right choice in continuing with XC!

Sky said...

I coach at a middle school in the Northbay. We have our student-athletes and their parents sign an agreement including that one practice, in full or in part, per week may be missed on a pre-approved basis without consequence. This allows some flexibility for the club soccer players to participate in both sports while allowing the same concession to other athletes who may have other after-school demands such as tutoring, music lessons or family obligations. For each unexcused absence and for every second weekly excused absence the athlete is not allowed to compete in the next meet. So far we have found this policy to be appropriate in accommodating the needs of the coaches, students and their teammates. I don't feel this policy is appropriate for most high school teams and we may be forced to reconsider this policy due to other issues related to 220+ kids coming out for track.

Regarding the message you posted, Albert, I think the coaches can play an important role but the problem starts and ends with the parents. I appreciate that parents want their children to do everything they want and be exposed to as many opportunities as possible but high school is the appropriate age for kids to start learning how to prioritize what's important to them and make sacrifices. Families have finite resources and time, and coaches rightly have minimum expectations for commitment.

Unfortunately, the best athletes are typically involved in club sports and cultured into it from a very early age. By the time they reach high school, school coaches invariably find themselves on the losing end of the either-or stick and are faced with having to make concessions for these athletes in order to have a better team. Should positions be given to less competitive athletes who are 100% committed for the sake of equity or should those positions be given to more competitive athletes who are 80% committed for the sake of competition? I suppose it depends on what role athletics at this level should play in the student-athletes' development in the eyes of the coach.

Regardless, I don't anticipate this issue resolving until parents of club sports kids require them to make choices and sacrifices.

ghpadd said...

One last comment:

Having coached both High School and Club running programs the following are the truths I found concerning club and school running programs:
1. Youth on a club team for at least 2-3 years prior to high school generally are the elite of their HS teams, local, regional and State.
2. A good club coach is hands off while the child is participating in HS sports and should have a good relationship with the local HS coaches (if the club/HS sport is the same).
3. The youth runner does not belong to the school they attend...they are not the property of any coach, club or school.
4. All coaches MUST HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ATHLETES' PARENTS...which in my experience seems to be lacking with many HS programs.
5. While the "team" is important the individual athlete is more important. You NEVER sacrifice the feelings of one soul to the team. HS sports are built to be inclusive while many club teams are built to be exclusive. This should never be forgotten.
6. All good coaches should realize that their coaching is only as good as the athlete. The athlete, and their emotional, physical well being should always be the priority...not how the team/school finish in a meet.
7. The club team is volunteer only, subject to rejection and also subject to higher demands and pressures on the athlete. But the rewards can also far outweigh anything that many high schools can provide.
8. With common sense and a good communication between teams, a club/HS youth athlete can experience the best of both programs.
9. If either the parents, HS or Club coaches demand that the athlete quit the other program, resentment is built in the athlete and extremely hard to overcome.
10. If the parents, athletes, club coach, and HS coach communicate, have the interest of the youth athlete at heart, and have a passion to truly see the athlete achieve what the athlete wants, this beautiful relationship builds a beautiful athlete.

Remember, we do not know what any youth athlete is capable of (yes that includes everyone). We only know what we have seen in others and what we have seen to a point in the youth athlete. Unfortunately many coaches/parents, with good intentions, place their own personal beliefs and barriers on youth and thus never allow the youth to show what they can truly achieve. In this is shame on us.

To the many GREAT High School and Club coaches and parents that participate in this sport may you always experience a passion for running in all forms, and even more important, a passion for enjoying the successes and failures of your youth athlete.

Concerned Parent said...

Up here in San Francisco it was widely publicized when a local school had athletes disqualified for having swimmers represent their club during the season. There are rules like these for a reason. Participating in a club, or another sport at the same time are difficult. In today's culture in the Bay Area the push is to do more and more and more. Kids taking 4 AP classes. You add in band, music, clubs, community service and a sport... let alone two? It is not healthy!

Kids are sleeping 3-4 hours a night, which in my opinion is not enough and is a direct correlation to numerous injuries. More is not better, kids need time to be kids. Running is not the end all of life. Neither is academics.

Honestly, kids would be better people if we as parents spent more time with them, taught them, nurtured them and loved them rather than living vicariously through their accomplishments pushing them to do more and more.

Anonymous said...

While I agree communication and relationships are points to be emphasized,
the following are the truths that I don't agree
7. The club team is volunteer only,
(I pay monthly fees for my child's club team)
....But the rewards can also far outweigh anything that many high schools can provide.
(I have seen McFarland and Barstow XC teams accomplish more with students and a community than any club team could ever dream to achieve

Peter Brewer said...

There really is no way to do dual sports within a single season, and expect to achieve excellence. All the equivocations only dilute the experience.

Club Soccer (spawn of Satan) demands thousands of dollars and 12 months out of the year. High school cross country, or track, can only legally require 12-14 weeks per season.

Club soccer coaches blow smoke up parents' skirts constantly with the obscenely irrational claims to D-I scholarships and pre-Olympic glory. This is all unsubstantiated twaddle.

It is true that there are many quality athletes playing soccer. This is especially true of girls. The fallacy is that soccer made them good athletes. God made them good . . . soccer just got to them first. Cross Country and track suffer because there is no peewee feeder system setup as there is in basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, and even gymnastics to a degree. By the time we get these kids in high school, it is tremendously difficult to wean them from the soccer brain warp.

High School coaches do their best, and with varying degrees of success. Many coaches can live with some "accommodation." I detest having to do it, but I have to accede to the demands of God, family and school as it is. To pile on that the contemptuous assumption that "of course" the athlete can zip off to another sport in mid-workout mid-season and not expect any repercussions is far too much, yet I have experienced this as the norm from soccer kids and their families.

Pardon me if this sounds harsh or bitter or vindictive, but 30 years of dealing with indulged children, intrusive parents, and predatory soccer coaches tends to detract from the joy a bit.

Peter Brewer
Northgate High School

ghpadd said...

Note to the anonymous comment concerning McFarland High School: The high school also supports a USATF Club Team (called McFarland) that starts the youth out in the 5th and 6th grades. Thus, McFarland has found a way to grab hold of the kids prior to soccer, keep them interested through high school and race high school during the school season and club races during the off season. Hats are off to the solution that McFarland has come up with. (PS: parents do not have to put their youth athletes into club sports...that is why I consider them voluntary If you choose to participate in a high school sport it is mandatory that you participate only on your school team.)

Anonymous said...

As a parent with two children in club sports that they love I find it crazy that a coach would not welcome these students who not only dedicate two or three months of the year to the sport but all year to the sport. While the other kids in high school are lying on the beach, hanging with friends or even working these students are getting up at the crack of dawn for practice usually 20 hours a week. These kids love the team concept and obviously want to be part of the team or they wouldn't be going out for the team, but high school coaches and administration have to understand that the caliber athlete that they are getting is because of the extra hours and months that these students put into the sport, that the other students are not putting in. Another argument that cracks me up is not coming to practice. Please, my children do double the amount of practice time as any high school athlete in their sports; they must do the harder practice in order to maintain the level that they are bringing to the team. That is like saying don't go to the Karolyia gymnastics club if you’re invited because you are missing your regular practice. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying the student should not be going to the high school practices, participating in team building activities or fund raising, I’m just saying they can't be expected to be doing both practices all the time. I think if it was explained to the other athletes that these students are putting in the time and probably more the animosity would be a lot less. Both times my children have come up against this the coaches and the school has not been very accommodating but the clubs have. This I can tell you, the school can NOT wait to announce any winnings these students bring to the school, but make them feel like outsiders during the seasons. It all comes from the administration. Sports in high school is a lot different than they when I was in high school in the 1980’s but my children’s love for their sports is the same as mine was, I wish the schools could see that.

Concerned Parent said...

Dear anonymous parent (who posted above)... you are delusional.

Please keep paying all that money so your kids can "practice harder" while completely missing out on their high school experience. I am sure practicing twice a week and playing 5-6 games every weekend, all the while paying 10-20k per year (which could go to paying for college) is well worth the promised scholarship they will likely not get.

I feel sorry for your children who are missing out on experiencing high school athletics, instead trading it for a "winning" club team you pay to be on.

By the way your club soccer team is being replaced by "Academies" that bypass the high school and college teams completely in hopes to go pro. Well worth the cost I am sure.

Have you forgot what it was like in the 80's and how fun it was just to play? You have replaced that with winning paid for by you.

PS. First, your kids are not that good and secondly to think that your kid isn't playing video games is laughable. And lastly, what's wrong with hanging out at the beach once in a while? You should do it now and then, you're missing out!

Jimmy said...

I know a lot of parents that have spent thousands on club sports.Some of the kids that I know couldn't even make the high school teams because they really weren't that good.

Peter Brewer said...


I truly do love this topic, but I'm not sure I can say more than I already did without 1) becoming truly apoplectic and frothing 2) make comments that indicate a lack of respect for others with different opinions.

Still, to reiterate: High school sports have set season of sport, and in the case of public schools, set boundaries of athletic candidates. Club have no such limitations of season nor of geographic regions. High school is a remarkably powerful time of life, and we all remember vividly that time and its influence on us. Club sports do little to add to that. Cost is prohibitive. Adding a superior athlete to a team is a good thing, but not if the accompanying baggage includes special rules and accommodations that the other athletes are not privileged to have. People who refuse to see these, and other, points because it impinges on their preconceptions of themeselves and their child, are indeed blinding themselves. We live in a society that has become increasingly detached from real human contact. Having a Twitter account may reach more people, but not the ones right in front of you. Team sports, and high school sports in particular, engage young athletes in more human and personal interactions that can counter these disturbing societal trends. Additionally, to assume that the nature of youth sports is a predatory free-agency with slightly different currencies is to devalue all of the proclamations of the virtures of sport in the first place. I have no place for a mercenary athlete, one whose family has shopped around for the best deal, on my team. The only price one has to pay is showing up every day.

Gee, Albert, I told you I'd start to froth.

Peter Brewer
Northgate High

Albert Caruana said...

You can post (froth) any time on my site. I think it's important that the perspective of a school coach is also heard as to the requirements that must be met to participate on a school team.

Chris Williams said...

After struggling with this since I first began coaching in 1999, I now believe we are looking at club sports all wrong.

I have gotten into a few conversations this summer with club soccer coaches, swim coaches and track coaches. To be honest, many cross country coaches and track coaches complain about that elite level runner who plays on the club level for another sport. But I don't hear many complain about that average student athlete who also does it - many cross coaches make amends for that average kid while complain about the elite kid. But the majority of the club kids are average runners which in my head would probably make them average athletes in other sports.

Hence, I wanted to dive deeper into the club sports about why these average kids pay a lot of money for these club sports but really don't reap the benefits at the end of the day because they are just average players. The bottom line I kept finding was the SOCIAL side of the club for BOTH athletes and parents.

These kids take a lot of team trips over the summer to very nice places and their parents "tag" along too. One soccer team spent 5 days in Santa Barbara at a tournament. So the kids played one game a day and got the rest of the time to hang out with their friends while the parents got to "vacation" in a beautiful area while the coaches babysat their kids. It's the best for everybody!

Until we as cross country and track and field coaches embrace this social aspect over the summer and winter times, we will not be able to compete with the club sport scene. I really hope I get to talk about this with other coaches at some clinics this year because I think we really need to change the way we think about club sports.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Chris Williams
Dublin High School

Anonymous said...

Realize this is slightly off-topic, but what concerns me the most about the rising costs and commitment required for club sports is that the achievement gap is now widening even farther outside the classroom. I am concerned for the kids at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum... the 6-day tournament in Santa Barbara... that is the epitome of what only a child of privilege can experience. At least when there were only school sports things were a little more accessible to everyone. (sigh)

East Side said...

Don't worry... The Mexicans at the park on the east side playing that pick up soccer game has double the talent and Would whoop that club team any day of the week. Club players are soft.

Club hasn't done a thing for US soccer. Couldn't even make the cut to get in the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

you're obviously referring to the men.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the only people who care about women sports are parents and coaches. And for three weeks every 4 years for the Olympics. Outside of that I don't see too many packed venues.

Albert Caruana said...

The format for soccer in the Olympics is different for men and women. I don't believe there are any limitations of age for the women so everybody is able to field their best teams. For the men, it's more of 23 and under tournament.

Anonymous said...

The only reason US does well in women's soccer is no one else in the world cares. It's all about men's world cup!!

Anonymous said...

Hope Solo makes $2.5 million a year and her book is now #4 on the NYTimes best-seller list, obviously others besides her coaches and parents care.

John Rankr said...

She is paid by sponsors because she beautiful and they use her as a sex symbol, not for athletic ability. Do a google search of her and see what pictures come up first, model pictures or her actually playing the game...

There are a lot of little girls in America who care about soccer, until they hit about 15-18 years old.

I have to agree with the above poster, they only care if you are a hottie.

But now we are getting off topic. The phenomenon of club sports continues to grow. Parents who spend tens of thousands of dollars so their child can have every advantage on the field. Hitting lessons on little league, quarterback coaches for Pop Warner, strength and conditioning coaches for all levels. These parents simply want their child to excel, so lets not blame them for trying to give their kids the best.

But I agree that in the drive to get an advantage on the sports field they are overlooking what Peter has put so eloquently, "the people right in front of them."

Club is an interesting concept, pay to be on a "winning" team. It makes you wonder, who are the teams losing? Ok, just a side note there but regardless of the stats we have to look at the type of culture we are teaching our kids. That elitism gets you ahead in life, that you can buy your way to the top. Maybe that is true, it certainly is for the politicians who run our country, but is that the lesson we want to teach our children?

I understand the parents, they want their kid to succeed. And they will pay at the promises of club coaches who claim to do so. But I also see a need for school culture. To love thy neighbor and be a part of something bigger. To root for your home school and feel pride.

I think that is the thing here that hurts the most. The loss of culture and pride in your home school.

Ghpadd said...

Is this a repost from last year? I made my comments, at best, several months ago.

Albert Caruana said...

George, yes. There were new comments made in the past week so I moved it back to the front page.

fence sitter said...

I see benefits and disbenefits of both Club and School sports.

As a HS XC coach, we let the child/family dabble in both worlds for a while, but we push them to choose once commitment conflicts begin to arise.

As the parent of a child that greatly benefitted from their club experience, I am also aware of the limitations of high school sports. Although I hear alot about teaching "excellence," there is plenty about high school sports that falls quite a bit short of excellent.

I have found that some HS coaches just can't stomach the fact that their potential athletes have options and are in a position to make choices. While I may not agree with the choices some of our potential athletes/parents make, I think the fact that they have choices makes us dig a little deeper to improve aspects of our XC program. It has forced us to look at what we do from an "outside perspective" and to be able to "sell" the value of what we do well.

I see part of my job is to help families make the best of their available choices.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully both will survive and kids will have options. My daugther was injured during HS XC last year and had not recovered enough to participate this year (e.g. 40-50 miles a week required for varsity). But she had an option though - club XC. More flexibility in her training and her mileage. Less "stress" on her too because HS sports overflows into other aspects of HS. I believe her HS coaches are supportive because she recoverying and will hopefully be ready to return next year - or maybe not and just train for Footlocker - - options.

Anonymous said...

I don't think club sports dominate in all HS sports. I have one son that is an elite runner (junior), one that is an elite soccer player (freshman).

The elite runner runs in high school. No club. The best runners in the state are all running in high school. There is little to no cost and there is no better place for him to run. His coaches are fantastic.

The elite soccer player plays club. No high school. From U10 to U14 he played for club teams. The cost was $2k to $3.5k per year. It covered the costs of paying a coach, renting fields, entering tournaments, uniforms, travel, etc. He now plays for an MLS academy team. There is no cost, and he is provided with gear (uniforms, shoes, warmups), and all expenses paid (flights, hotels, meals). He is actually not allowed to play high school soccer by the US Soccer Federation. There are pros and cons to that, but I can tell you that most of the best soccer athletes don't play in high school.

There is no way they could do any more than their school work and their one team/sport. Kids should do one sport at a time once they are at high school age. Most of the regular soccer clubs in our area (NorCal) take a break during high school soccer season so that their kids can go off and play for their HS. It is in the fall, so the kids could just as easily run XC if they wanted to do that instead. Ultimately, kids should do what they enjoy, whether it is a high school sport or a club sport.

Conor Dunn said...

First off, I love this discussion and hearing all the different perspectives on this topic.

As a HS coach, the one thing that I find the toughest is the kids who are listening to us and the club coach at the same time.

Our school has a very specific training plan put into place every single year with the goal of peaking at NCS or State (depending on the teams ability) It hurts our team when some of the athletes come to practice completely thrashed from doing a workout with their club coach that morning. Not only do they run like junk in the afternoon but they don't get that experience of pushing through a tough workout with their teammates. They end up overdoing it, face injury and then we don't see them for a few weeks.

If you want to do club, fine. If you want to do HS fine, but I am going to echo the sentiments of many on here that you need to pick one or else you will just burn out or get hurt. The last thing we want as coaches is to see an athlete lose the love for a sport that we all care about.

SRVHS Asst. Coach

Anonymous said...

So-why aren't your runners listening to you? Is it a credibility problem? If you can't get your athletes to buy in to your plan, maybe there's a disconnect somewhere. There's more to coaching than writing up a plan, a stopwatch, and clever matching pants.

Anonymous said...

Running is hard. It's not for everyone. If there it is a disconnect somewhere it is usuall with parents or the fact kids are unwilling to experience something difficult.

Just sayin

Anonymous said...

If the problem is with the kids or their parents, why is the club coach having success in getting through to them? App entry, the club coach is able to somehow convince theses soft, indulged kids to 'completely thrash' themselves at morning workouts...

Conor Dunn said...

"So-why aren't your runners listening to you? Is it a credibility problem? If you can't get your athletes to buy in to your plan, maybe there's a disconnect somewhere. There's more to coaching than writing up a plan, a stopwatch, and clever matching pants"

I love the snarky jab at our matching shorts thrown into to the end of your anonymous post.

Regardless, that is a good question. Maybe there is a disconnect somewhere and we have yet to discover it. I can tell you it isn't from lack of trying. I show up every day and run with the kids, talking to them and trying to find out what makes them better. I want to know their goals and how they look to acheive them. Above all, Cross Country is a team sport. How can they make themselves better while making the TEAM better at the same time?

However, you would think 3 NCS titles in a row would mean we are doing something right. I am not going to pretend we haven't been loaded with top teir talent but we have also groomed many top varsity runners who hadn't raced before they got to High School.

Conor Dunn

eballer said...

how many guys on your ncs title teams ran club ?

Andrew said...

I'm all for Club XC and track if they can work with the high school to create a better, year-round running environment for a student-athlete. I think it is productive since the high school gets a child who is ready and plugged into training already while the club coach knows their kid is in good hands during the school year (I am obviously looking at this from a high school coach's point of view). Problems arise when there is no communication between the two coaching staffs however.

But for us, the issue isn't club XC/Track. We are trying to encourage children participating in club XC/Track in order to start and sustain a running culture in Berkeley that is seen in places like San Ramon, Danville, Livermore, etc.

The issue is club soccer mainly. It is such a time and energy drain on kids and obviously very popular. We're fine with kids who play soccer for the school throughout high school. But, after freshman year, they need to make a decision between soccer in the fall and spring and XC/Track. The investment of time and money usually wins and that's soccer since XC/track cost so little by nature.

The argument the commenters are having seems to be divided. Is the issue with club XC/Track or with club soccer?

Doug Griffith said...

Eballer - I think only one person from each those three SRV championship teams ran club in high school. My son was a 400/800M runner and only ran cross country senior year at SRV. He started training in July, and began trainng under Coaches Hunter and Dunn in August, worked hard over the summer, and placed 3rd at the D1 XC NCS Championships in November. He followed Coach Hunter's training plan down to the decimal. Sure, he may have had some natural ability, but without Coach Hunter's training he would not have achieved the personal success he did.

Like I said in another post back in May, SRV Coaches Hunter, Stevens and Sheppel do a great job of training their track athletes to peak from mid-May to the State Meet. In my 6 years with the program, SRV runners, jumpers throwers, and relay teams always post their best marks each year at the NCS and State Meets. This is also true many other high school coaches in our area.

We are very fortunate to have so many great track and cross country coaches in our area. The one thing you cannot replicate running for a track club is the camaraderie and school spirit you get running for your school and friends you see everyday in the classrooms and hallways.

As the article posted earlier this week noted, the number of high schools kids participating in cross country is rising significantly. Whatever the reason, that's a good thing for everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

Okay hi, I found this article because I was searching input people had about kids doing cross country and soccer at the same time. Interesting forum, people. Thought I would give some input to you all who think you know everything- and this is from someone who is living and breathing both sports right now. I play for a high level club soccer team that does demand up to 5 days a week, and I am doing high school cross country which demands up to 6 days a week. I am also about to begin a challenging academic load. Pros and cons of club soccer: If you're high level than you can kick some butt, but it is super expensive and a huge time commitment. Pros and cons of cross country: NPR broadcast told me that it is not high school football that gives the most injuries, but cross country... Atmosphere is friendly on the team, low cost, but a huge time commitment during the season as well. If your child wants to double sport like I am and ( I will do it again during the spring track season) I suggest they have a free period so that they can do a decent amount of the days homework. Some days I won't be getting home till 8ish and will be absolutely exhausted so the free period is a must. There will probably be tears,soreness/ pain, and extreme tiredness but it is possible. Be supportive and help them get their life together during this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

^ Sounds like you know it all. Congratulations and thank you for enlightening us.

TKPWREG said...

This thread apparently resurfaced from a year ago, and it is an interesting subject. I have coached for the past 13 years cross-country, swimming, and track & field. I have had athletes competing in two sports at the same time, running & swimming and track & baseball. Having dealt with this for five of the years, my conclusion is this: Injuries increase, irritability increases, parents complain, kids start to hate it, they burn out, and then end up prioritizing one sport over the other. Now, as coaches are we not also supposed to do what is in the best interest of the young people? That’s what I have elected to do, and I no longer allow any young person I coach to compete in two sports at the same time. I tell them they just need to choose which sport that like the most, not what their coaches want them to play, not what parents want them to do, not what peers pressure them to do, but what they really like, choose that sport, and excel at it. If it happens to not be the sport I am coaching, fine. I must prefer a young person who is healthy, happy, and motivated, then one that is beat up, having a nervous breakdown, and saying, “oh, not another meet.”

On the subject of clubs, I guess I am fortunate, because I have not had the soccer experiences, but I have had numerous young people, both middle school and high school, run for a club and run for their school, and maybe it’s because of the club they run for, because I definitely have seen other clubs respond differently, but I don’t have a problem with it, and here is why: The club defers to the school. The head coach’s attitude is when running for your school, that is your priority, and there is no pressure.


ghpadd said...
“Lets take a look into the financial future about 10 our public schools. There will be no sports due to the cost of maintaining the facilities, paying coaches, insurance, replacement, etc. The US is heading towards the club sport model as is currently seen in Europe.”

I DISAGREE with this statement. I believe sports will survive. High school sports are finding other methods to raise finances and survive, but I coach at a private school with a budget of zero. Athletics are self-supporting, and the public school is moving in this direction.

“Buffalo Chips Running Club for one year $25, USA Track and Field Membership $30.”

HMMM. The team the kids I coach ran for pays all of that.

Alex said...
“As someone who always focused on one sport at a time, I always found it annoying when fellow teammates would miss a practice or potentially a game because they had another practice. For one, that is not how a cohesive team should work. Thankfully, my XC and Track distance coach does not tolerate that…”

WELL SAID, Alex. When an athlete misses practice due to their priority sport, the team is resentful.

TKPWREG said...


ghpadd said...
“One last comment:
“1. Youth on a club team for at least 2-3 years prior to high school generally are the elite of their HS teams, local, regional and State.”

I COMPLETE DISAGREE with this claim that youth on a club team are the elite of their HS teams… In fact, I have seen the opposite numerous times, wondering what happened to this kid or that kid who ran club when they are off scene in HS. Some youth from club excel, but on whole, you will find those who are excelling in running never ran club.

In swimming I would say the opposite is true; that most of the top swimmers are also year-round club swimmers. HS swim season is short, and those who only swim HS can excel, but go to a HS swim meet, and you will learn most of the top kids swim club year round.

“2. A good club coach is hands off while the child is participating in HS sports and should have a good relationship with the local HS coaches (if the club/HS sport is the same).”

ABSOLUTELY, a good club coach should be all of these things. I was at a HS cross-country meet back in 2010 looking at the results of the race just ran. There were multiple divisions: big school, small school, frosh/soph, etc., and a girl I coached won the small school race. I was looking up to get her time, and next to me was a club coach who made a snide remark about the frosh/soph girl’s time being faster. I guess that wasn’t a good club coach.

“3. The youth runner does not belong to the school they attend...they are not the property of any coach, club or school.”
THE high school athlete signs to come on board and be under the authority and jurisdiction of the school they represent. When competing for school X, are they not a member of that team and thus, they should listen and do what that coach instructs them to do or not be a member of it.

“Peter Brewer said...”
NO comment to Peter Brewer’s comments…because I AGREE with all of them!

“Chris Williams said…”
AND Chris makes a valid point. I do agree there is a place of running clubs, absolutely. Having had children on a running club, it certainly can be an asset. At the same time, I have seen clubs work against high school teams and even one club undercut other clubs. I think that is repulsive when one club approaches a young person who runs for another club and “steals” them away. Now, that is a club/coach that is not supportive of youth. They are only concerned about their program.

Conor Dunn said...
“As a HS coach, the one thing that I find the toughest is the kids who are listening to us and the club coach at the same time.

“Our school has a very specific training plan put into place every single year with the goal of peaking at NCS or State (depending on the teams ability) It hurts our team when some of the athletes come to practice completely thrashed from doing a workout with their club coach that morning.”

EXACTLY. As a swim coach, young people are allowed to practice with their club team as “unattached” swimmers, and I used to allow this, but by the end of the HS swim season, kids were thrashed. So I still allow it half way through the season, and then tell them they cannot do club practices anymore and focus on HS. The result: The best peaks we have ever seen and when tapering, they are genuinely tapered. The club coaches would not deliberately try to sabotage HS season, but they have different goals in mind, so when we are tapering, and they are expanding volume, it doesn’t work.

Anonymous said...

Even more difficult is when two high school sports conflict. I know a number of talented runners who are deciding between volleyball and XC. Or in the case of SJS, you have talented runners like Maggie Bell who didn't run track because high school soccer is a spring sport in that section. My daughter's high school suggested that it might even be possible to double in two high school sports. As much as she would like to do that, not only will this likely decrease her success at both sports but is it really fair for her to take the spot of someone else in volleyball - which is a cut sport?

So her option, if she want to continue with volleyball, is to join a volleyball club in December, commit to that until high school track starts, and then cut back on volleyball in the spring to give 100% to track.

It's nice to say that the kids need to make a decision and choose a sport but especially on the girls side, as their bodies develop, their success at a certain sport may be dictated by their physical development. Making a decision to concentrate on only one sport as a 14 year old may be a bit premature.

Popular Posts