Recently, a trend with high school seniors has been growing as they are deciding to forgo their senior volleyball season. While I understand the underlying reason these players are not participating – injury prevention – I cannot help but think that they are missing out on an experience they will never get back, their senior volleyball season.
So far I have seen two major stories where players have opted out of their final season, Asjia O’Neal from Caroll High School and two players from Bishop Moore Catholic – Gracie Ryan and Shannon Crenshaw. Out of these four players, three have big time Division I volleyball scholarships – O’Neal to Texas, Crenshaw to Washington and Ryan to Arkansas.
Looking back at my own playing days, from the time I was a freshman in high school I looked forward to my senior season. It was the last time that we could prove what we were as a team and the last time that I would play with my teammates.
While players have their personal reasons for why they choose to not participate in a high school season, there are a number of valuable things they will miss out on by not playing. Here are three of reasons why you should reconsider opting out of your high school playing days:
1. Missing Out on the Experience
High school is about experiences and they are ones that you will never get to relive. Things such as prom, homecoming and participating in sports are some things that make up the overall high school experience. If you sit out your final year you are missing out on a number of things – playing with people you’ve played with for the past three years, representing your school or just playing the sport that you love.
“I would tell any athlete they should enjoy everything about high school, they will never get that experience back,” said Kim Barents, head coach at Treynor High School.
2. Representing your School
Most girls that forgo their senior season either head straight to their college following the holiday break or will begin playing club volleyball that winter/spring. Yes, these club matches will give you a ton of touches on the ball you, however, are missing out on one crucial aspect – the importance of a match.
“In club, you will play multiple qualifiers and have a bunch of opportunities to qualify and if they don’t then they spend a week at Disney. They play hundreds of matches during the club season and none of them are that important. In high school, they learn the importance that every single match can dictate the outcome of your season,” said Michelle Kuester, assistant volleyball coach at Lamar University.
High school and college volleyball are comparable in this way, losing a match could determine the overall outcome of your season. In club one match will not make or break your entire season, as you have more opportunities to make up for an off playing day.
3. Missing Out on Vital Playing Time
As a coach at the club and high school level, touches on the ball are important. It is often easy to pinpoint which players have not been keeping up with their volleyball skills come the first day of practice.
For high schoolers, the club season will not begin until the high school volleyball season has been completed. If a player decides to forgo their senior season and still play club volleyball, they are one missing out on the experience of representing their school, learning the importance of a match and touching the volleyball in a highly-competitive environment.
Like Kuester said above, yes you will be getting touches on the ball in club, but taking yourself out of four months of play at the high school level can be a detriment to your overall play. This is because you are losing four months of touches and four months of competitive play.
“Any lack of touches on the ball prevents kids from being prepared for their collegiate career,” said Kuester.
Volleyball is not a sport that you can take time off from and expect to be at the level you were at before, it requires repetition and actual game play to keep up your skills and volleyball IQ – as the game is changing all the time.
Hi, Carly. This is an excellent and very important article that I hope discourages high school age athletes from making a decision to not play. However, I am not sure there is a “trend” to be concerned about. Three of the players you discussed all play for the same school. There can be no doubt that these girls are indeed sacrificing much in making this choice. They are also deeply hurting their teammates. You are so correct that 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 discussing and impliedly criticizing or questioning 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. Considering four seniors and a junior at one of these schools opted to not to return for the 2017 varsity season, focusing on the players’ decision may not be appropriate. There is always far more to a story than meets the eye.
Having said this, absent an extremely compelling reason and absent the absolute involvement by a player’s parents, a decision by junior level athletes to forego playing for their high school team is a huge mistake. I could not agree with you more.