Club News

HS Seniors Abandoning Their Schools Becoming An Epidemic

Even successful HS teams are seeing their stars giving up their final fall seasons…

Shannon Crenshaw was Florida 5A POY as a sophomore, won another state title with her team as a junior but decided to take her fall senior season off, a growing trend among top players even on top HS teams

It was late June and I found myself multitasking in Orlando, covering AAU Nationals and at the same time pondering the upcoming fall high school season. A text to Tanya Jarvis, head coach at two-time defending Florida 5A champion Bishop Moore and a director of OTVA (and coach of OTVA’s top 16s team), in which I congratulated her about her newborn daughter, brought a puzzling response:

“BTW, I have some things you need to know about HS.”

Last year in August, PrepVolleyball.com had proclaimed Bishop Moore the No. 1 team in the land in the pre-season. The Hornets were young in 2016 and lost only once en route to winning state. I was seriously considering making Jarvis’ team No. 1 again to start 2017.

What were the things I needed to know? I thought Jarvis might tell me she was taking a sabbatical for a year to take care of Finley. But the news was much more dire: rising senior Shannon Crenshaw, a First Team All-Central Florida outside hitter committed to Washington; and rising senior Gracie Ryan, a starting S/RS committed to Arkansas, had chosen not to play their senior year for Bishop Moore. Their plan, instead, was to train during the fall with Blake Rawlins, their club coach at Top Select.

As June turned to July and July turned to August and the start of high school competition in many states, news trickled in about other standout seniors, at successful high school programs, who also had decided against wearing their school colors in their final season.

In Texas, MB Asjia O’Neal, a top 10 national recruit committed to Texas, told her high school coach at perennial power Southlake Carroll, on the heels of winning a 17 Open national championship with TAV, that she needed to rest to be ready for college.

In Arizona, Indiana-bound MB Lexi Johnson stated a focus on academics as her reason for giving up her last year of high school. In Alabama, libero Lacey Jeffcoat, the best player on three-time defending large-class champion Mountain Brook and a Troy recruit, opted not to play her final season after a coaching change.

In Georgia, libero Riley Fischer, a Florida recruit considered one of the best in the country at her craft, quit just before the season started, apparently because of a conflict with her coach about which position she’d play.

In Louisiana and California, seniors who’d made Beach Volleyball commitments, bade farewell to the indoor game rather than play one more year. This includes Kiora Sanchez, who father, Ray, is her high school coach!

Illinois’ Genesis Sheridan, a standout going to South Carolina, decided against playing for Prairie Ridge her senior year even though her younger sister is on the roster. California hammer Megan Faraimo, who led Division II state champion Cathedral Catholic in kills in 2016, decided against suiting up her final season after settling on softball as her college sport of choice.

There may be other seniors I don’t know about who also chose to forego their final season in 2017 but it’s a huge number if just the 10 above. Understand, this isn’t about players not wanting to play on lousy high school squads or being injured or academically ineligible; these are top players on elite high school teams saying, “No, thank you” to one more trip around the sun with longtime teammates.

In 17 previous seasons covering the sport, the only one I can recall who did not compete for her high school as a senior was Hayley Hodson. Hodson used that time to focus on academia and practice with the National Team, then won an 18 Open national championship with Tstreet in the spring. In the fall, she was named National Freshman of the Year after a standout initial campaign at Stanford. One year later, Hodson was out of volleyball altogether, citing the cumulative impact of several undiagnosed concussions and their effect on her well-being.

To recap: one senior star opting out in the past 17 years; 10 in 2017.

“This is so sad,” said Tumwater (WA) head coach Tania Otton, whose daughter, Gonzaga-bound senior Kennedy Croft, is the star of her team.I’ve been hearing more and more of it. 

“Kennedy LOVES high school season.  There is something so different about it, compared to club:  unity of the team being together every day for 3+ months, school spirit, fans… 

“We haven’t been affected by it, thank goodness.  It has become a sad phenomenon, as a high school coach, to see this happening.  I think one thing that high school coaches have had to do, to help eliminate burnout, is scale back.  We used to go to summer team camp, play summer league, go to two summer tournaments.  I now go to one tournament.  And that is it.  The girls are playing year-round.  Now, with beach becoming so popular and now an option for scholarship – it’s even more so cutting into high school ball.”

Kathy Gillen is the head coach of Minnesota large-class champion Eagan. Her daughter, senior OH McKenna Melville, is a star on the team and will attend Central Florida to play after graduation. Her theory for why this is happening has to do with overuse.

“Players’ bodies are beat up after 8 months of JO’s,” she explained. “My players didn’t get done until July 4th this year.  They played in both major national tourneys (which is also not smart).  With only 5 weeks off (or less in the south I think), it’s too much for players that play 6 rotations and are playing at a high level.  They need a break and take the shorter high school season off.  With most players they wouldn’t be able to take the JO season off with scholarship stuff I would assume.”

Asked whether her daughter ever thought about skipping her senior year, Gillen was both definitive and measured, saying:

“No. She loves the high school season and playing for her school.  She is VERY beat up though.  She has a couple of bulging disks in her back and her shoulder is sore.  In her words: ‘I’ll take November and December to heal.’”

Jim Park used to coach his daughter, Ohio-bound attacker Lauren Park, at Ohio’s West Holmes HS. Lauren Park will be playing her senior year for the Knights, who were 13-11 in 2016, but not before considering taking a pass, largely because she was overused at the high school level.

“The topic was discussed as a way to not wear her shoulder out and hit the weight room to prevent overuse injury,” Jim Park said. 

Park said he’s heard other reasons seniors consider skipping their final season, including:

“1. Club season goes so long and starts so soon after the high school season followed by leaving for college in June that there is no down time.

2. Players want to work out to improve their chances of being prepared for the college game and high school seasons don’t do that for them.

3. [Sometimes] a high school team and coach are at such a low level that [playing] doesn’t hold any value for beyond camaraderie with friends.”

Mountain View (CA) head coach Dave Winn echoed the above comments pertaining to kids opting against continuing to play for less competitive high school teams.

“The need to play for your school because of team spirit and helping out the younger players isn’t as high a priority as it used to be,” he observed.  “So they may opt to just take the fall off, privately train and save their effort for the club season to prepare for college.”

Winn added that the growing popularity of the beach game may also factor in.

“Beach Volleyball is getting more and more funding in college programs,” he said. “Indoor/outdoor players will start to specialize even more in just beach if they are receiving beach scholarships.  I don’t think the pressure is coming from the college coaches.  The players themselves that are going to college for Beach actually enjoy that game more than indoor.”

Valencia (CA) head coach Ray Sanchez said that he was ambivalent about his standout senior, a Florida State Beach Volleyball recruit, playing indoors for him this year, even though she was his daughter and this would be his last opportunity to coach her.

“As a coach I’d love to have another talented player on my roster but considering the number of major injuries (torn ACLs, broken legs, torn ligaments in ankles, etc.) we’ve experienced over the past few seasons,” he explained. “It seemed too much of a risk with little to no upside, so she’s going to continue to train on the beach during the fall. Playing indoors would have been fun and finishing her senior season with the girls she’s played with for years, some since they were 12s, was certainly something that was attractive to her, but ultimately she decided to forgo her senior season and stay focused on the beach. If she changes her mind we could always add her to the roster but I don’t see that happening. If she were to suffer a major injury playing for me indoors this season I couldn’t live with myself so I’m actually relieved she decided not to play. The stress of watching those tight plays at the net that happen on a regular basis would have been tough to deal with.”

Of all the reasons given for not playing as a senior, perhaps the most troubling is the decision some players have made to train with their club coach for the fall rather than compete on teams they’ve been a part of for years.

Rawlins, who said he has 10 players from Top Select who committed to do this (for a fee), said the players are driving the bus not him. He noted that the players felt they did not improve during the high school season and that they wanted to prepare to be starters right away at their universities of choice, among other things.

“We are treating this like a spring season in college volleyball,” Rawlins explained. “Being better for the next level is more important to them than winning an award or state title.”

At least one former high school coach, who still works in the club world, didn’t buy the explanation that this movement was being driven exclusively by the players.

“A club in our area tried to start it this year, but wasn’t able to get enough girls and they received incredible pushback from media and high school coaches,” he noted. “It seems the clubs most involved are ones without high school coaches on staff. As a former high school coach and being a director of a club that is full of high school coaches, we would never consider it.

“In the end, it’s a way for these clubs to make money during a time period when the gym is usually empty, but the rent stays the same.

“I was on a college recruiting panel this summer when a kid asked about not playing high school to train. All 10 coaches on the panel (DI-DIII) said they should play high school and that there was no good excuse not to. The typical reasons are: don’t want to get hurt, don’t like my coach, won’t get to play my favorite position, and we aren’t very good. You need to be good at all of those things to be successful in college. You may not play your favorite position. You will need to deal with new coaches who won’t be exactly like they were when they recruited you. You may have to play a new position and be versatile. And most college teams lose…so get used to it and handle adversity. High school should be about pride, fun, and playing with your friends. You could always play high school AND spend time training with your club. In the end, you will have 8 months to train with your club team.”

Most college coaches I surveyed in July shared similar sentiments about giving up the last year of high school to train.

“As someone who went to a small high school and participated in everything, I think it’s sad she is leaving her HS team…especially one that is extremely successful,” said one Division I head coach. “I personally want my players to be well rounded players AND people.  Learning to play with a variety of personalities and learn from different types of coaches only makes her more well-rounded at the next level.  Even if she was part of a struggling high school, it would be a great opportunity to develop leadership skills and patience.  Five months of training with a club vs training with a HS team will likely not make any difference whatsoever in her ability to start as a freshman in college.

“Again, I feel for the high school coach who is likely coaching for very little money, just for the love of the game, and loses one of her best players.”

“I do believe the answer is on a case-by-case basis,” said another Division I coach. “Is the high school competitive?  Does the player come from a highly regarded volleyball area/community?  Is there a significant difference between the coaching abilities of the high school or club coach?  If the answers to those questions lend towards a competitive, technically-sound high school environment, then there isn’t much benefit to NOT playing high school.  All things being equal, there is no replacement for actual, live competition.  There is a HUGE difference between technical and practical knowledge and while this player will be improving on her skills, she is limiting her growth by not competing and utilizing her skills in a competitive environment.  Given the situation you laid out, I would strongly encourage the rising senior to play her high school season.”

A third head coach was much more blunt.

“Where’s her loyalty to her school?” she asked. “To her coach? To her teammates? Anyone can work on their skills. There’s great benefit to playing a team sport with your team. Learning to play in the gray and learn to be a great teammate. She’s depriving herself of a great learning opportunity. And I think it’s selfish. I would question her motives….. and her character. A team is about we and this screams ‘ME!’”

There were some college coaches, however, who held a more moderate view.

“There is something to be said for playing too much ball,” said one.  “Some of these kids are playing over 150 matches or more a year.”  
 
“I think training is fine and all, but nothing compares to actual matches,” said another. “However I never get in a kid’s way to be happy. I’ve had committed kids say they aren’t playing on the elite team for their club because the travel/cost is so much, so their senior year they play on the 2s team and just play more local stuff, and I was 100% fine with it. I did have a kid who decided to skip all of club last year. I told her my preference would be for her to play but she decided not to. This was a predicted starter and she came in so rusty it took until about mid-season for her to play to the potential she had and become a starter. She told me after the fact she regretted the decision, but it was hers to make.”

“My job is to care for the kid,” a third college coach explained. “My thoughts are you only get to play high school volleyball once. Personally I don’t want to see a kid give up high school ball. But I tell them, ‘I’ll support you no matter what decision you make. I want you to come to campus healthy and happy.’

“You have to be okay walking the halls every day and every person you see knows you’re the best player in the school and you’re not playing high school ball. You’re making a decision that says, ‘I can face my peers and be okay.’”

John Kessel has worked at USA Volleyball for 33 years and currently is Director of Sport Development. Some coaches told me he always advocates play over practice, so I reached out for his opinion on the matter. His perspective was surprising as well as unique.

“My short response is, if the kid, not the parent, wants to just do club, and it is ok with her high school friendship structure to be just doing that – it opens up another slot on the high school team while getting her the learning she feels she needs.”

Kessel later elaborated further, saying:

“1. It must be the kid’s choice. What he/she has considered from all the angles (with guidance from parents or a guardian), but too often it is not the kid’s choice. When it is, I am fine with it.

“2. When kids choose club over school, it simply opens up the scholastic experience for another kid at the school who would have been cut. For me that is a great thing.

“3. I see the same thread of school ‘need’ in demanding/expecting the kid to be a 3 or even 4-sport athlete. Kid’s choice? Fine. Otherwise, it is BETTER for society when kids only play 1 sport in HS. That is ‘cuz I look at the numbers:  12 varsity VB, 15 basketball, 20 softball.  If the 12 kids then play hoops, 3 slots still open. If those 15 then go play softball, just 5 more slots open. So the benefit of scholastic sport, not the winning, the leadership development, the learning how to be on a team, the pride of representing your school – hits only 20 kids. If kids only did 1 sport, 47 kids get that experience….and for me, 47 is way more than 2x the 20…. I mean, why do we do HS sport? To win? Or to develop amazing leaders – the latter being my coaching philosophy in a nutshell and why I coach.”

Personally, I absolutely HATE the idea of a player giving up her senior year for any reason other than injury. When you don’t play high school ball when to do so would put you in the running for state and national championships, you have to explain that to your classmates and your former teammates. The fall will be uncomfortable every day at school because they will not understand. The four Stanford freshmen who started for the national champs last year all played high school ball and achieved at the highest levels. They didn’t take off to train for a season, they didn’t graduate early and they didn’t leave early for summer school. They showed up with everyone else in August and won a national championship.

College coaches also might not understand. One Division I head coach told me she plans on asking all prospective recruits if they plan to play their entire high school careers.

“If the answer is ‘no,’ we won’t recruit them,” she said. “If she quit on her high school team, she’ll probably quit on us.”

Many of you know this, but my son, Tim, accepted a baseball scholarship to Stanford when he was a 15-year-old sophomore. He continued to play football for two more years, set every passing record in the state of Oregon, was three-time state Player of the Year and helped West Linn to the large-class state title as a senior. He never once thought about giving up football to train for baseball and counts his football memories as among his very fondest.

Tim also played basketball for two more years and, though he was not a star, he was part of two state championship teams, moments his is very proud of.

Tim’s high school baseball career spanned three more years. His teams twice went to the state championship and as a senior he was named Oregon Gatorade Baseball POY. There was NEVER any thought to abandoning playing, especially as a senior, to get ready for the next level, which was still one year away. Why would there be?

Twenty years from now, when Tim’s talking to his kids about his high school experiences, he can stress the importance of team, lifelong friendships and memories he made and even some personal sacrifices for the greater good of the school. What will the volleyball players say? “Yeah, we won two in a row but that was enough. I decided as a senior to abandon my teammates and do something only for me.”

“I cannot imagine a reason outside of injury or some sort of abuse (which is typically handled fairly swiftly in high school) that a high school player would forego her senior season on a successful and competitive team,” said Clay Taylor, who once coached Fischer at Harrison HS. “Unfortunately, these players are being pulled in so many different directions by so many individuals. The pressure to please, which I believe is only natural for most teen girls, can be overwhelming. The strongest voice in her circle will gain her and the parents’ attention. Individuals in a team sport often struggle with the concept of team first.”

“I don’t like the thought of this becoming the norm,” said Otton. “High school programs need to pick it up a notch and make their program one that they are excited to be a part of, that they feel ownership in and loyalty to and where they know they will be coached and grow.”

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. kelly ryan

    September 1, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Thank you for writing this article. It is an excellent and very important article that I hope discourages high school age athletes from making a decision to not play. There can be no doubt that these girls are indeed sacrificing much in making this choice. This article and the seemingly endless articles before it, calling players out by name without first getting their story directly, would be a case in point. These players are also deeply hurting their teammates, their school, and in many cases, a beloved coach. Playing for one’s high school, especially senior year, sits at the very top of the totem pole in terms of experiences a student athlete can have. For that reason alone, it would be refreshing if just one writer reached out to the girls and/or their parents to get their side, and their thoughts, and a complete picture of their entire story before publishing in-depth articles calling players out by name to impliedly criticize, question, or judge their choice. It is probable that the desire to train and prepare for entry into college level play was just one of other compelling factors leading to their decision; or….the reason given in lieu of the other compelling factors. There is always far more to this very difficult decision than meets the eye.

    Because I am old and have been around sports my entire life, I can give just a few of many examples of “other compelling reasons” high school athletes playing a year round sport have given privately as the basis of a difficult decision to sit out his/her senior year:

    1. The athlete may have a critical need to focus on school/SAT’s in order to ensure that they can meet their college commitment requirements; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family;

    2. The athlete may be experiencing a difficult private family situation, and feel the need to be available full-time to address this situation; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family;

    3. The athlete may be suffering from a chronic pain issue (from overuse/year-round play) that the athlete needs to address by taking time off for rest, physical therapy and strength training; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family;

    [See: http://nypost.com/2017/06/19/the-epidemic-thats-ruining-youth-sports/;

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/21/health/kids-youth-sports-parents/

    http://nyshsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/NYSHSI-Overuse-Injuries-in-Young-Athletes.pdf%5D

    4. The athlete’s parents may simply realize that the year-round situation has taken a physical toll that the athlete doesn’t recognize, and make a parenting decision for the interest of the child; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family;

    [See #3 above]

    5. The athlete may not be receiving the level of financial assistance needed to attend the offering schools (i.e., one year of scholarship) and opts to forego college sports, requiring much needed time to beef up grades and/or SAT’s in order to be admitted to other favorite schools; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family.

    6. The athlete may be experiencing a situation inside of his/her high school program that has caused the athlete to extract herself/himself for very private reasons; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family.

    7. The list can go on and on…….

    While I cannot speak for the players you have called out by name, I suspect for a fact they each have a very compelling reason or combination of reasons beyond the canned “desire to train and prepare for college;” reasons that are critical but private to that player and that family.

    As the parent of a daughter not playing her senior year, I can attest to the difficulty, anguish, and second-guessing that goes into it. It is a matter taken so seriously; all of the repercussions. And it is a decision that stays with you daily; you second guess yourself daily. As a result, the best and most fair assumption for everyone to make is there was a very, very good reason for the decision.

    I can assure you that any student athlete that makes the very difficult decision to forego playing for their school has compelling circumstances at the root of that very difficult decision. In the absence of extremely compelling circumstances and absolute involvement by the parents, giving up playing for one’s school is a huge mistake. I could not agree with your article more to the extent you intended to acknowledge these decisions are very difficult and not necessarily made for selfish reasons.

  2. Pete H

    September 1, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Yes, this has been happening for years in soccer. It also has to do with the level of competition in a lot of HS leagues. Girls and their “advisors” think, ” why should I waste my time playing low level ball, when I could be training, recuperating and focusing on college play and my 18’s club season.” It’s become all about the sport and not the experience.

  3. jschlect

    September 1, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Excellent article John, and I couldn’t agree more with Coach Otton. Even if on a mid-league team, a solid player can make the touches she gets in HS practice “quality” touches. But it’s the opportunity to grow in character and selflessly provide friendship, leadership and/or guidance to younger or less experienced players that should be embraced, not abandoned. My league-MVP daughter had one day this summer where she pondered out loud whether she wanted to play her senior HS season this fall to do more physical training for club and college, and after thinking of a few teammates and her new coach, quickly determined that she was all in. During the first week of fall practice she finds out that one of the younger kids who played JV last year had kept a selfie picture with my daughter as her screen-saver and had told her mom, “I’m never getting rid of this! She actually TALKED to me!” You never know what impact you can have on others through encouragement and leadership. This will no doubt be a great season of growth for my kid… in the areas that matter more than in how she plays. “To whom much as been given, much will be required.” Luke 12:48

  4. kelly ryan

    September 1, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    This is an excellent and very important article that I hope discourages high school age athletes from making a decision to not play. There can be no doubt that these girls are indeed sacrificing much in making this choice. This article and the seemingly endless articles before it, calling players out by name without first getting their story, would be a case in point. These players are also deeply hurting their teammates, their school, and in many cases, a beloved coach. Playing for one’s high school, especially senior year, sits at the very top of the totem pole in terms of experiences a student athlete can have. For that reason alone, it would be refreshing if just one writer reached out to the girls and/or their parents to get their side, and their thoughts, and a complete picture of their entire story before publishing in-depth articles calling players out by name to impliedly criticize, question, or judge their choice. It is probable that the desire to train and prepare for entry into college level play was just one of other compelling factors leading to their decision; or….the reason given in lieu of the other compelling factors. There is always far more to this very difficult decision than meets the eye.

    Because I am old and have been around sports my entire life, I can give just a few of many examples of “other compelling reasons” high school athletes playing a year round sport have given privately as the basis of a difficult decision to sit out his/her senior year:

    1. The athlete may have a critical need to focus on school/SAT’s in order to ensure that they can meet their college commitment requirements; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family;

    2. The athlete may be experiencing a difficult private family situation, and feel the need to be available full-time to address this situation; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family;

    3. The athlete may be suffering from a chronic pain issue (from overuse/year-round play) that the athlete needs to address by taking time off for rest, physical therapy and strength training; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family;

    See: nypost.com/2017/06/19/the-epidemic-that’s-ruining-youth-sports

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/21/health/kids-youth-sports-parents

    nyshsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/NYSHSI-Overuse-Injuries-in-Young-Athletes

    4. The athlete’s parents may simply realize that the year-round situation has taken a physical toll that the athlete doesn’t recognize, and make a parenting decision for the interest of the child; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family;

    [See #3 above]

    5. The athlete may not be receiving the level of financial assistance needed to attend the offering schools (i.e., one year of scholarship) and opts to forego college sports, requiring much needed time to beef up grades and/or SAT’s in order to be admitted to other favorite schools; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family.

    6. The athlete may be experiencing a situation inside of his/her high school program that has caused the athlete to extract herself/himself for very private reasons; something a junior athlete may not want to be known to anyone but close family.

    7. The list can go on and on…….

    While I cannot speak for the players you have called out by name, I suspect for a fact they each have a very compelling reason or combination of reasons beyond the canned “desire to train and prepare for college;” reasons that are critical but private to that player and that family.

    As the parent of a daughter not playing her senior year, I can attest to the difficulty, anguish, and second-guessing that goes into it. It is a matter taken so seriously; all of the repercussions. And it is a decision that stays with you daily; you second guess yourself daily. As a result, the best and most fair assumption for everyone to make is there was a very, very good reason for the decision.

    I can assure you that all but a very few student athletes who make the very difficult decision to forego playing for their school have extremely compelling circumstances at the root of that very difficult decision. In the absence of extremely compelling circumstances and absolute involvement by the parents, giving up playing for one’s school is a huge mistake. I could not agree with your article more to the extent you intended to acknowledge these decisions are very difficult and not necessarily made for selfish reasons.

  5. mitchdoyle

    September 1, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Honestly, I think the coaches who disagree with a kid’s decision to skip a high school seasons need to get over it. The high school season is NOT where kids get their exposure anymore; therefore, the high school season is pretty much viewed as a “recreational”. If a kid wants to rest and/or prepare their bodies for the club/college season then that’s just a smart business decision. If you dont agree, just look at the difference between how many college coaches recruit during the high school season compared to the club season.

  6. John Tawa

    John Tawa

    September 1, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Replying to Mitch Doyle…this is what I posted on Facebook this morning in response to a similar sentiment:

    “I like to think of high school ball as an end in itself and a valuable one. Too many feel that everything before college ball is merely a means but why? For all but a handful of programs, college volleyball is a poorly attended revenue negative venture that is ignored in the local media. It is much more likely that hs ball will be where you get the most recognition have the most fun and create the most memories. So what is it about college volleyball, the last rodeo for most lifelong players, that makes it the only important thing according to the above post? Is it the prestige of being able to say you played the college game? More likely it comes back to the same thing it always seems to come back to: the scholarship. While $ talks, that’s simply not a legitimate reason to treat the lower levels with disdain. They are all important for their own reasons and deserve to be valued not diminished.”

  7. mitchdoyle

    September 1, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    John,

    “Memories” don’t pay the rising cost of higher education… like I said, it’s a business decision and couple that with the lack of “good coaching” at the high schools level it doesn’t make sense. The club season is far too long and with a 3 week break between the end of club nationals and the start of the school season it’s not unconscionable to consider skipping a 3 month high school season which yields little to no exposure to recruitment.

  8. John Tawa

    John Tawa

    September 1, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Memories don’t. Parents do.

    Are you saying that without an athletic scholarship, which is very rare, your daughter would not be attending college or would be relegated to a JUCO near home for a couple of years?

    My experience in my town is that parents buy boats, alcohol and vacations first, then worry about paying for college.

    My view is that it’s MY JOB to get my kids to college, and the college of THEIR choice, whatever the sacrifice. Though my eldest got an athletic scholarship, we did not chase one. He played three sports in HS and had little time for camps or elite travel teams. He just happened to be good enough. Lucky me. That $$$ now goes to my other sons, not into a boat, alcohol or a vacation…

  9. mitchdoyle

    September 1, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I’m not speaking about any player specifically. I’m simply stating that from a “money well spent” perspective, club season is far more important than high school seasons based on the number of coaches who attend club tournaments vs visit a high school match.

    Should a kid be good enough to obtain a scholarship offer I would never hold it against them – in any capacity – if they decided to forgo their high school season to rest the body and/or hit the weight room in preparation for a much more rigorous collegiate volleyball season.

  10. christenboyd

    September 3, 2017 at 5:03 am

    To single out one girl is ridiculous. You know nothing about her personal life or the toll high school season could’ve had on her. Whatever happened to concern for mental health and stability? This girl could be reeling in exhaustion because of her high school season. It was a calculated and educated decision where she put her WELL BEING over her leisure. This was a “me” decision, sure, but it wasn’t entirely selfish i think she was looking out for herself because she was pushed to.

  11. Anonymous

    September 3, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Kids are recruited as Juniors. Mine was. She didn’t want to play her senior year, she didn’t. No real news breakthrough here, and that number will only keep going up.

  12. woulfe1

    woulfe1

    September 4, 2017 at 7:06 am

    Our experience is that the 18’s club season is prioritized significantly over a senior HS season. Certainly, the circumstances can vary from school to school, even from state to state from what I’ve heard. The wear and tear is a bigger deal than even described in this article. Also, less than 1% of any forms, correspondence, anything , my daughter received from a college asked about her HS team or HS coach contact information. We were always asked about her club. There are some outstanding HS teams and coaches out there and I am sure that experience is worth the risk, additional wear on the body, etc. But this number will keep going up.

  13. grunk92

    September 4, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Excellent points, Kelly Ryan. And I’m sorry John, but your arguments with Mitch don’t hold enough water for me. I agree that high school sports are very important, but I think of them as they existed when I was in high school in the 80s–more multi-sport athletes because club sports weren’t so ubiquitous. One’s entire athletic world revolved around his/her school. Look at today’s high school athletes and the situation is much different, especially for volleyball. Kids play club with kids from other schools from grade school age and beyond. On club teams they develop relationships with kids from all schools, so that sense of school spirit and rivalry that was so intense when I was young doesn’t exist to the same degree with most kids today. And club season is so much longer so they actually develop deeper relationships with club teammates than schoolmates.

    Volleyball is an incredibly technical sport, and without specialization and extensive skills-based training, it is hard for many kids to improve enough to be fortunate to get recruited (yes, some ‘natural’ athletes can do more than one sport and still be very good at vb, but it is a very small minority). If a player’s goal is to compete in college, then why would you criticize that player (and her family) making a decision that they feel gives her the best chance. My daughter went through the recruiting process and is fortunate to have an incredible opportunity to play in college. Over 99% of recruiting contacts came through our club director and came during the club season. The airwaves were silent during the school season. The system (in which the kids have no input) is such that everything goes through club. So why are you surprised when they choose club-based training over a school season, regardless of whether their school team is elite or not. And parenthetically, it is abhorrent that you made high school team potential even a component of whether the decision to skip senior year is valid or not. All the things you list as ‘valuable’ about school volleyball should be completely independent of whether the team might/might not be ‘elite’.

    Finally, the players have no control over the fact that volleyball seasons never end. HS season (in NE) goes August through mid-Nov. Club tryouts are the day after the state HS championship matches. And club goes mid-Nov through early July. Summer training for school starts in June and goes into July where it morphs into HS tournaments/summer camps. If a player also has collegiate interest/commitments, she has to go to college camps in July as well. When does that 15-16 year old get a chance to be a kid? The physical toll is tremendous, but the mental toll can be even worse. I know college coaches who acknowledge that they have to relate to players differently now than they did 20 years ago (can’t yell/lean on kids in practice) because the kids are burned out. PrepVB.com doesn’t present that as an important issue in any article that I’ve seen. The system is not set up in the best interests of the kids, and kids and their families are truly powerless to do anything about it, despite what quotes you provide from college coaches who play the victims.

  14. atlvbdad

    September 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    What about the kids that forgo their 18 club season after playing with the same group for 4-5 years building to the final 18’s season. If they leave early for school after “making the big time” aren’t they also quitting on their teammates. Shouldn’t your college coaches be equally as appalled by that action and not recruit or allow that athlete into school early? Aren’t they quitting on their teammates and therefore a risk to quickly quit on their college teammates.

    Overall it’s just a continuation of our societies selfishness and the me first generation! It doesn’t help that our President is the leader of the Me First mindset!

  15. John Tawa

    John Tawa

    September 6, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks for your perspective.

    In this instance, the high school coach has as much high level experience as the club coach. The presumption is there would be no drop off in skill development for these already-committed players.

    I sympathize with kids who play for a person coaching for the paycheck or on a high school team that doesn’t share the same commitment to excellence that they do. I’d still encourage playing but can understand why not. When you have a chance to play for a state title and create lifelong memories for yourself, your teammates and your school, I do believe that is qualitatively different (and so not “abhorrent” in my mind).

    Finally, it is true that for many volleyball is year round and that should be changed. I don’t know why the 3-4 month HS season falls victim though, especially for the committed player. Many clubs give players a whole month off during the season. Other clubs should follow suit.

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