High School Soccer v Club Soccer: A Father’s Reflections

“Foot”ball . . . Futbal . . . The Beautiful Game . . . Soccer!

Called Soccer in the USA, but known as football everywhere else, this sport is a uniting element in the lives of many young people. No other sport brings players from multicultural backgrounds together as this sport does. At SMA, the boys and girls varsity soccer teams give student athletes a sense of community, camaraderie and pride. With seven different countries represented on these teams, they are just known as the BEARS.There can be personal struggles at times, but the strength of the team is the top priority. Being part of the team will press young players to put personal agendas aside and work together, many of them becoming great friends for life.

High School Soccer Develops Player Maturity

My son, Devon, is a Bear soccer player, and I have witnessed a maturing in him that has come about as a result of being on this team. I have followed him and the team as closely as possible without being on the sideline with them. I wish I could explain to those who are unfamiliar with the sport that it is a way of life. It’s a culture all within itself that contains elements of almost every culture on the planet.

High School Soccer or Club Level Soccer?

Within the USA, teen athletes have two primary outlets for soccer: select or club level soccer and high school soccer. The focus of college recruitment tends to be more at the select/club team level rather than at the high school team level, making participation in select/club teams almost a necessity for those hoping to play in college. In select/club sports, there is a huge sense of competition, not only between teams but also within a team, teammate against teammate. Players feel the pressure to stand out, to out-perform and to get noticed. This is a necessary part of the lives of young players hoping to advance, but this is not really who they are or how they identify themselves.

Club teams change players and coaches to a certain degree. It’s all done under the term, “player development.” But what this system lacks is a sense of chemistry, development of the whole person, development of relationships and identity. At least this has been the case with me and my children.

High School Soccer Promotes Belonging, Pride

In contrast to the competitive and sometimes unnatural environment our family has experienced in the select/club soccer world, SMA high school soccer is who “we” are. This is where we have a feeling of belonging . . . a feeling of pride. The camaraderie allows us to experience an “us” instead of a “me.” Whether the stands are packed or there are just a few friends cheering, the moments belong to the players on the field, and they belong to something bigger than themselves. I think my son said it best when he expressed what SMA soccer was to him: “Club soccer is a priority and needed for advancement, but I’m a San Marcos Academy Bear.”

–By David Hethcock, SMA Technology Support Specialist, Academy parent and all-around soccer enthusiast

Editor’s Note: The SMA boys and girls soccer teams are headed to the TCAL state tournament Feb. 12-13 at the Bear Branch Fields in The Woodlands, Texas. Seedings are still being determined for the tournament, but the championship games will be played at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 (both boys and girls). Our Lady Bears, under Coach Paula Korzeniewski, have finished their season at 3-8, with two of their wins coming in their final two games. The Bears (boys team) under Coach Corey Schade, is 10-3 with three more games to go before state.