TJ students participate in club sports as a part of their competitive career in athletics.
Spartan athletics have always been a leading force in shaping Thomas Jefferson High School’s culture, as student athletes are easily recognized across the school. However, there are many student athletes who play sports outside of TJ that consider their outside involvement to be a big part of their lives. To get a perspective on athletic activities outside of school, there are around 460,000 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) athletes. NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) Sports states that the number of athletes in college who have played club sports in high school can be up to 90% depending on the sport, meaning that a lot of Spartans could be participating in outside activities that may not be known about. A notable name would be sophomore Ibrahim Alsaaid, a part of the Colorado Rapids U17 Academy soccer team who has not competed in high school sports. “[Club Sports] provide opportunities to meet new people and allow you to view the sport in a completely different way with the year round schedule,” said Alsaaid. Club sports offer students access to a variety of different sports, year round practice, professionals, and opportunities to travel around the world.
Although participating in club sports has many benefits, the process may also come with setbacks. One main obstacle is that practice and game schedules are not lined up with the school schedule; therefore, attendance, homework, and energy levels can suffer. Senior Tyler Hrin, a member of Slammers Baseball, considers playing a club sport to be a “grind.” However, he recognizes the positive aspects like “the discipline and life lessons you learn throughout your career as an athlete.” Hrin loves playing baseball and states that his efforts in club sports “will benefit [him] in [his] hopes of playing in college.”
Every athletic participant has reflected about their future and set goals for themselves by asking questions like, “What do I want from my college experience?” Although the answer to this question is different based on the person, the opportunities and circumstances required for dreams like college sports are aided by the professionalism and scheduling that athletic organizations outside of high school provide. Many club participants find it difficult to get involved with their school, as school spirit and friendships can add to their stress. Balancing these can be difficult for the packed lives of these athletes. However, Hrin acknowledges that club sports, “are a fun way to stay active and have some fun…they express your true love in a sport… the competition provides lots of opportunities to improve.” which is something Alsaaid also agrees with. This also falls into a completely different experience than high school because of the year round schedule that allows teams to have fun experiences together and travel opportunities, domestically and internationally. Being in an environment where everyone has a strong mindset and loves the sport can change views on athletics for the better, while also providing a strong work ethic for everyone involved.
Participation in club sports only requires effort and can improve your relationships and performance in a sport, which adds to the diversity and personalities among the population of students at TJ. A big part of playing sports outside TJ is the constant commitment you have to have, which is a true Spartan value.