Outside U-High walls
February 23, 2017
Filed under Features & Student Life
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Inside the walls of our schools, athletes are some of the most well known students that are enrolled. Many of them participate in athletics outside of school, in addition to their long hours of practice for their school’s team.
“I played basketball really early on, but my main focus since age two has been hockey,” sophomore Andrew Meyer said.
Meyer currently plays on the Bloomington Thunder hockey team. He was awarded Goalie of the Year during the 2013-2014 season from the Commissioner of the league, and he was voted MVP of his team last year.
Senior Jamie Walling also began as a basketball player, on Game Time’s club team, but has been all over the map with other travel sports.
“It wasn’t until freshman year when I started at Illini Elite Volleyball Club, and I instantly fell in love with it,” Walling said.
Once her season in other sports came to an end that year she quit everything and focused on only volleyball and is currently doing just that. Walling is captain of her teams at U-High and Illini Elite, and has been awarded many additional titles on both teams.
Lauren Seaver is a junior and has been a high school/club athlete combo as well as a club athlete exclusively throughout her career. She started gymnastics at age three and continued with it for twelve years. She retired freshman year due to injuries.
“I tried cheerleading that year, and it just wasn’t the sport for me,” Seaver said.
Seaver stopped cheering at the end of her freshman year, and it was that January when she was tricked by her mom to attend her first pole vault practice. Her first year she was awarded the “most improved” award and had a personal record of 11 feet. During her sophomore season, she qualified for the New Balance Nationals as an Emerging Elite and placed 2nd at indoor state.
“This season I qualified for Indoor New Balance Nationals in New York to compete as an Elite for the first time,” Seaver said. She also has a new personal record at 12’4”.
There are many great reasons why these athletes love and continue to participate in club sports. Both Walling and Seaver say they love the family “feel” that being on a club team offers.
“The team bond is a lot greater in club because think about it, I spend at least eight intense months out of the year with them,” Walling said.
These teams require a significant amount of travel. Seaver said one of her favorite times of her season is getting to travel to Reno, Nevada for a competition each year with her team. Walling said one of her favorite time every year is at a unique volleyball camp called Owls.
“We go to Wisconsin for a weekend without our phones and do team bonding exercises,” Walling said. “Every year we learn so much about each other on and off the court which seems to be beneficial to how the team works together.”
While they had many nice things to say about being part of a club sports team, there are also many things that burden their lives about club sports specifically.
“It takes away from your social life,” Walling said. “As a senior I miss a lot of my “lasts.” Like, this year, I had to miss Mr. U-High which I was pretty upset about.”
While all of the athletes agree that Club sports take away from their social lives, it seems like Club Sports are worth the trouble. Walling is committed to play Division 1 Volleyball at Oakland University in Michigan on a full ride athletic scholarship. Andrew and Lauren seem to have big collegiate dreams as well. Meyer hopes to play ACHA Division 1 hockey. His dream school is Indiana Tech University. Seaver hopes to do pole vault in college. Her dream is any school in the SEC or a “big name” D1 school.
“While they sometimes stink now, the payoff [of club sports] is more than worth it in the end,” Seaver said.