Tackling Club Sports

Emily Hess
There’s hitters and there’s setters that get all make all the kills and tip it right over the net. But the passer just ‘receives the pass.’
Seventh grader at Blue Valley Middle School Emily Hess is plays club volleyball as a defensive specialist for (PVA). This upcoming season will be her second season with the club and playing competitive.
“I’ve played with PVA my whole club career but I was on the second team my first season and now I’m on the third team,” Hess said.
She said she started playing volleyball on a rec team and after a couple of seasons and a lot of improvement, she decided to try out for club.
“Before I played club I was just on a [recreational] team and everyone was kinda bad so I decided to try club volleyball.”
She said that playing club and playing rec are two completely different things.
“Rec is just something to do a couple nights a week and mess around with your friends. My dad is my rec coach so it’s pretty low key. Club volleyball is a huge commitment,” she said.
The commitment is very vigorous and requires a lot of traveling.
“We mainly play in tournaments and we have traveled to Minneapolis, Min.; St. Louis, Mis. and Topeka, Kan. We also have practice three times a week on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays for an hour and a half each plus a 30 minute speed and agility workout on Wednesdays after practice,” Hess said.
She said the traveling experiences have ups and downs.
“Traveling can be very exhausting plus playing like five or more volleyball matches makes it even more tiring. But my teammates and have a lot of fun going out to eat, waiting between games and messing around in the hotel.”
Meg Hollingsworth
Round-off-back-handspring, standing tuck, full, double: all terms that competitive cheerleaders are very familiar with. Sophomore Meg Hollingsworth cheers for Kansas City Athletic Cheer (KCAC). She has been cheering with KCAC since sixth grade. She said she joined that specific cheer gym after she quit gymnastics.
“It was a good way to keep up on my tumbling and learn new tricks.”
She said tryouts begin at the end of the season, for the upcoming season.
“Practices run throughout the entire year. The competition season lasts from November to April. Tryouts are in May.”
She said tryouts are a long, tiring process but it’s challenging and it definitely worth it.
“During tryouts, girls trying out are asked to show their highest level jumps, standing tumbling, and running tumbling. Girls trying out for a flying position are also required to show their body positions. The coaches place girls on teams according to their skill level.”
Hollingsworth said being a competitive cheerleader is a large commitment but it provides good experience in traveling, teamwork and team selection drama.
“KCAC usually attends around ten competitions per year. Most are in the KC area, but Level 5 teams also travel around the country. We’ve attended competitions in Texas, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.”
Hollingsworth’s team consists of girls from many other Blue Valley schools, Aquinas, St. Teresa’s and Notre Dame de Sion. She said the bond among her and her teammates is like no other.
She said team sizes vary each year, some teams only have 12 girls but others can have as many as 36.
“During competition season, [we] spend on average about six to ten hours per week in the gym. I’ve made a lot of friends through KCAC and being on their teams has always been a lot of fun.”
Drew Howard
Wakes up at 6:30 a.m.
Grabs breakfast.
Throws on uniform.
Heads to the baseball fields.
The typical weekend schedule for incoming Freshman, Drew Howard.
Howard has been playing club baseball since second grade.
“My dad played baseball and ended up in the Major Leagues, playing for the Royals and Cardinals. He got me to play baseball and he’s been my biggest supporter and mentor” Howard said.
Howard plays for Building Champions with 11 other boys from Blue Valley Southwest, Rockhurst, Shawnee Mission East, and Aquinas.
“It’s fun to play on a team with guys that aren’t from your school. You get to meet new people and create bonds amongst people who have similar interests” he said.
Unlike common teams, Howard is strictly and tournament team but also participates in a laid-back league. There are tryouts in July to determine which team he makes.
“We probably play somewhere around 15-20 tournaments and 40 league games a year. We have tryouts in July for a week or so, but I’ve played on the same team with the same guys for around seven years now” Howard said.
Howard says his season lasts from August to July.
“My team plays fall ball from August to October. After we just have indoor practice during the Winter months to stay loose and get comfortable with the team. Then we have summer league that lasts from April to July” he said.
His team practices on average eight hours a week, but sometimes there may be additional practices if they are in big tournaments.
“At practice we run, throw, catch, take flyballs, ground balls, hit a lot, and do more running and working out” he said.
Howard says he wishes to continue his love for the game throughout the rest of his life.
“Club baseball helps me improve as player, meet new people, and better my chances to play in the future. I hope to become a professional baseball player, because I love the game and all it includes.”
Brooke Zimmerman
Playing from June to February then transferring to high school, Brooke Zimmerman is fully motivated when it comes to her soccer career.
“I have been playing club since 6th grade, when it started getting serious. I’ve played for Sporting Blue Valley for two years, because I played with KCFC beforehand but the two clubs merged a couple years back” she said.
Zimmerman plays in a special league called ECNL. They travel to play other teams in their league all over the country averaging about 15 games per year.
“I have 18 girls on my team. I am the only person from Blue Valley High School that plays on my team. The rest of the girls that play are from: Kearney, Missouri, Blue Valley West, Blue Valley Northwest, Shawnee Mission South, and St. Theresa’s” Zimmerman said.
During the school year, Zimmerman said they practice 4.5 hours a week during the school year and 14 hours a week during the summer.
“We practice 3 days a week for an hour and a half during the school year and then switch to everyday during the summer for 2 hours” she said.
Tryouts are required for all other teams, but Zimmerman said her coach doesn’t require her to tryout anymore.
“We did have tryouts when the club started but not really anymore. If the coach knows a girl who is good, he will bring her to our practices to see how she fits in with the team” she said.
Zimmerman is continuing her soccer career by playing at Missouri State University next fall.
“I played club sports because it’s more competitive and the coaches are more experienced and can help us out with getting recruited by colleges. During my club experience I wanted to accomplish being the best I could be and get a D1 scholarship. I got what I wanted from club and couldn’t be happier to further my playing at Missouri State next year.”
Maddie Newell
Sophomore Maddie Newell has been playing basketball for seven years with Fritz’s All-Stars basketball team. Her dedication to the team makes her the player that she is today.
“I’ve played basketball since I can remember and I can’t imagine myself not playing,” Newell said.
Fritz’s All-Stars practices four hours per week and Newell said she plays her hardest and strives to get better for all four hours.
“Practices are long but I know that even though I may not enjoy it at the time, I’m improving day by day so I can play in the future” she said.
Fritz’s All-Stars team is a tournament team that plays in tournaments about every other weekend, in and out of town, and practices year-round.
“Being a tournament team helps improve our team as a whole by getting the experience to play other teams instead of the same ones every weekend.”
Newell also plays Varsity basketball for the school, club soccer and Junior Varsity soccer for the school.
Newell said that participating in two club sports is difficult but enjoyable.
“Playing two sports is sometimes challenging but it keeps me in shape and I love the sports of soccer and basketball,” she said.
Newell said basketball is her main focus but she enjoys playing soccer.
“Basketball is definitely my passion but I like playing soccer and I’ve been on the same club soccer team for eight years and I have created irreplaceable bonds with my teammates and coaches.”
Newell plays soccer for Puma FC.
“I have always loved soccer because it is a fun sport to play alongside my friends. I’ve gone to school with my teammates since elementary school and we’ve all been playing together since so we really bond” Newell said.
Eager to get a scholarship, Newell said she hopes to continue her basketball career in college.
“I would really like playing basketball in college. I hope to get a scholarship to either a D1 or D2 school” she said.
Newell will continue to enjoy playing both soccer and basketball throughout her high school career.