Most athletic students have the choice between playing for a club or representing the school, and some choose both. The differences between club sports and school sports can be seen in the athlete’s performance and how the team operates.
School teams are what most people recognize and know around the school. They revolve around school spirit as well as the student body. This is much different from club sports because club sports are privately run and compete within a different league than the schools. For students who enjoy the large crowds and vibrant energy of school spirit, club sports may seem pointless and undesirable.
Despite this aspect, club teams have strong advantages over school teams. A big advantage is the coaching delivered at the club level.
Novato High Assistant Principal Jim Larson spoke on this.
“A lot of time club coaches are more experienced coaches than what we have at the high school level,” said Larson.
Larson explained that this is because of the certifications and requirements put in place for a coach to be hired. At the high school level, coaches don’t need to have any certification, but at the club level, the coach must be registered through a sports governing association. This usually requires courses and previous experience.
The league that club sports compete and train in differs greatly from the schools. For example, Marin Rowing Association is based out of Larkspur and they mainly compete across California, yet races can be as far as New Jersey or Florida.
For a lot of students, traveling with the team is enjoyable, but for the parents it can be problematic. Travel trips can get very expensive and aren’t always included in the original registration of a club team. Uniforms, travel, and equipment add up quickly for club athletes and parents.
Redwood High School student Sam Pigott shared his views.
“I think that paying money to do a sport can make it harder for some people,” said Pigott.
A big advantage that significantly separates the two leagues are the seasons they train in. Club sports do not need to worry about issues with student’s schedules or other sports allowing them to train year round. School sports are usually only a fraction of the year.
“The season is like three months and we play two games a week,” said Jason Carpenter who plays on the varsity basketball team for the Hornets.
Club sports also don’t have to compete with other school programs for the use or fields or courts, as their locations are set up for their specific sport. Because of this, club sports train much longer than the school teams. These advantages contribute directly to a team’s success but can have drawbacks like students getting burned out or losing interest.
Jake Gunderman a student at Tilden Prep in Albany partakes in club sports and shared his view.
“I definitely think the intensity level is a lot higher because they’re dealing with athletes that want a lot more out of the sport and when they’re dealing with club sports, they’re paying for the sport,” said Gunderman.
Students trying to decide which team is better for them have to keep these factors in mind. The amount of time and money that they are willing to dedicate to the sport are very important aspects of the club sport world.