Kansas.com KSN

by joanna

I had a post at the end of March on a high school athlete choose not to play high school sports. It’s an idea that I believe is unwise. High school sports and club sports both have their place and they can live in harmony.

Right? Sometimes.

Heights girls soccer coach Steve Parks e-mailed me about this topic, and it was such a reasonable, rationale and strong e-mail, I asked if I could post it. He agreed. His post is below.


I read the post on the idea that some coaches believe that skipping high school soccer is more beneficial than playing the high school season.  I also read an article in one of my previous NSCAA Soccer Journal magazines about this same topic.  The article in the Soccer Journal was pro “high school ball” as opposed to taking the other side.  I have heard from some of my friends that there are club coaches in the area who are trying to discourage kids from playing high school soccer.  This is an absurd idea.

It is my firm belief that if club coaches and high school coaches work together (as many club coaches are high school coaches and vice versa), then our athletes will continue to grow as soccer players.  It is important though that both take a stake in the athletes and follow them outside of their respective seasons.  As a high school coach, I need my athletes to play club ball!  It is year round soccer for them if they play both club and high school soccer.

Do I believe that some coaches out there have no idea what they are doing?  Absolutely.  I believe that this happens on both levels though - high school and club.  Trust me, I have had to correct many issues with some of my club athletes game – fundamentally speaking.  It goes both ways.  It is like any walk of life, there are good and bad club coaches, just like there are good and bad high school coaches.

Since I am primarily a high school coach, I will give the point for why the high school season is important (from an elite player perspective).  Many believe it is these elite players who suffer.  I have had a couple of elite players in my tenure at Heights.  Here is why they benefit from the high school game.  Early on, they (as freshman), are able to play with girls that are 3-4 years their senior.  Some of these players are better and some aren’t, but the fact that they are girls playing against young women says something.  Physically, they are definitely out-sized most of the time.  One of the most important aspect of the high school game is that they (the elite player) has to develop into a more independent player.  Sometimes, they are coming from a team where they are of the same ability.  They are not always looked upon to be the game changer because there are so many other possibilities out there.  If an elite player is the best offensive threat on her high school team, then her game has to change.  That player has to learn to become not just a “game player”, but a “game changer”.  This is something that a previous athlete of mine had to become.  Another point is that it is great for the high school.  Kids have pride in who they represent and can play with people they normally wouldn’t play with – even for 3 months of the year.  Finally, and probably most important, the high school season is a grind!  We play 17 games in a little over 2 months.  At times we play three games a week and practice every day in between.  It is an exhausting season.  It challenges these girls (like college ball will) to prepare their bodies so that they are mentally and physically ready for an intense 3 month period with no breaks.

Now, from the average player stance.  These players get to play with some athletes who are far superior then them allowing their game to benefit as well.  I will not argue heavily from the average player perspective since the proponents of skipping high school soccer are mainly those from an elite players perspective.

I know many great club coaches and high school coaches across this state.  What is most important, is that these two groups work together to improve the play of our athletes.  We don’t need to bicker about which one is better, we need to agree that we both need each other!

In closing, everyone is playing high school ball right now, get out and enjoy the possibility of beating a high school rival and also someone you play with during club ball.  How satisfying is that?

  • OntheQT

    School pride is the main thing I see, along players and even some of the so called elite players playing a totally different position in High School verses what they play in Club ball due to being needed and utilized differently with a different group of kids. High School ball can be fun, even if you’re not winning due to the different type of atmosphere with the fans at a High School game verses a Club game.

  • beasley

    From my experience as a club coach, high school ball at some schools is a joke. There are some high school coaches out there that have no idea what they are doing. They play so and so because their parent is a teacher, they play so and so because they are their kids best friend and in the meantime good players aren’t playing because they aren’t a “so and so”. School politics are a major issue with school ball and if anyone out there says that it doesn’t happen, they aren’t being honest.

  • star3987

    My daughter likes playing high school soccer, but by the end of the spring she’s always saying, “I’m ready to play REAL soccer now.” The girls who don’t play club are frustrating because they don’t really understand the game and don’t take it very serious. The club players are trying to improve their game and sometimes the other girls get in the way. She’s never wanted to not play high school cause a lot of her friends play soccer and they’re not on her club team, she’s just ready for it to be over by the end so that she can get more serious.

  • Anonymous

    I would be in favor of eliminating soccer as a recognized high school sport! You can add all the sports to high school you want, that doesn’t mean you are going to be able to find qualified coaches to coach them. If the soccer parents have a problem they should probably talk to the parents of swimming or gymnastics athletes.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think you really mean that. If you want to grow the sport in general throughout the area, the high school programs are a significant part of that. They do attract people – both players and fans – who would not have a place in a club sport at that level. Frankly, soccer insiders follow the club sport, while many more casual fans, friends, and classmates follow the high school sport, even though the level of competition is frequently inferior. We need both/and not either/or for the sake of the sport.

  • Anonymous

    That is part of my point, no parent, player or fan should follow club sports while that high school sport is IN season. Those involved have to do the responsible thing for the sport and their school/community first and foremost.
    The second part of my point was, I just hate soccer!

  • OntheQT

    Buco, club soccer and high school soccer do not conflict. During the Fall when boys are playing high school their respective club teams are not playing, and vice-versa for the girls in the spring when they are playing high school soccer their club teams are not. Club sports definitely have there place just as all high school sports do. Wrestling, swimming, gymnastic’s and even cheer are vital in both the club and high school realm.

  • Anonymous

    I was responding to the posters who were comparing club soccer vs high school soccer. I don’t know if any club sports run in competition with high school seasons in this part of the country but they obviously do in some places.

  • Anonymous

    I was responding to the posters who were comparing club soccer vs high school soccer. I don’t know if any club sports run in competition with high school seasons in this part of the country but they obviously do in some places.

  • Jannet Mathews

    Coach Steve Parks is right. If
    the two groups will just work together then there would be more chances of
    winning. And the success that would definitely redound to the school and
    players would greatly attract more students to join them. Setting a goal will
    help our students to be more active in sports. Likewise, encouragements will
    prevent them from being on the wrong side of the road. 

    Jannet Mathews