Beyond NHS: Students turn to club sports

By Ally DeJong
Staff Writer

“We’re always playing soccer, we’re always on the road. We really don’t have time to do anything else.”
Freshman Jamie Palermo plays club soccer one-and-a-half to two hours a day, seven days a week; she is always on the go.
Students play all types of sports; some can be played on separate club teams outside of school. Clubs are also referred to as “travel ball,” and mainly focus on having athletes get noticed by colleges to advance in the sport for those colleges.
Clubs travel farther distances to play teams in other areas. The locations can vary depending on how good teams are and what divisions they are ranked. The higher divisions play across the state, or beyond, in search to find a higher level of competition.
Chris Smith, a club basketball player for the Chapel Hill Kings, talked about why he prefers his club team to playing for Northwood.
“I like travel better because you meet new people and it’s better competition; you get a whole lot better,” Smith said.
Students who play for club teams often play for school teams as well. Clubs normally arrange the season schedules to fit so that athletes can play both. Because of this arrangement, athletes practice all year long.
Jeff Forbes, a senior club soccer player who also plays for Northwood, contrasted the differences between his two teams.
“Club soccer [focuses on] a lot more skill and possession, as opposed to Northwood, which is focused more on athletes and speed,” Forbes said.
There are many reasons students choose to play club sports. It could be because of better scholarship opportunities, or just for fun.
“I play just for fun even though my club team is dedicated to getting the boys into college. Both [teams] want to see us succeed, but club wants to see us succeed in college,” said Josh Alvord, a senior soccer player.
Some students feel the environment for the two teams is different because while Northwood focuses on winning and fun, club teams focus on improvement and teamwork to win.
“The [club] team is more focused on getting better than winning; you want to win but we’re just trying to work as a team. We are very team oriented… it shows on the court with our chemistry,” said junior basketball player Gaby Mehringer, who plays club ball with the Carolina Bells.
Students agreed that the coaching is different too. Club coaches have full-time jobs being a coach for many high-ranked teams within the club. Athletes pay high costs to be a part of these teams and are there solely for that sport.
“The coaches for travel ball are much more strict and they like perfection. The coaches here are more easy and laid back,” said sophomore softball player Morgan Oldham, who plays for the Lady Blues.
Allie Ray, a cheerleader for the Carolina Legacy All-Stars, talked about how rules can vary for club and Northwood sports depending on types of equipment used.
“Stuff that is illegal at Northwood is legal in all-star because of the different mats you’re on,” Ray said.
Some students do just play for fun, but others are looking to excel in college.
Padgett Harrington, a softball player for Presbyterian College, graduated from Northwood in 2011. In high school she played for a “travel” softball team that helped her to be able to play softball in college.
“Most travel teams have a fall and summer season where they go to showcase tournaments which are tournaments that are typically played purely for college coaches to have the opportunity to see a lot of talent,” Harrington said.
Harrington said that students need self-discipline to play sports at the next level.
“Playing travel ball can help you prepare for college if you have the discipline and determination to take it seriously enough and allow it to prepare you,” she said.