Part of the Club: Students continue playing sports during off-season, participate in club sports

Cassie Nichols, Staff Writer

Senior Brandon Lee began playing baseball when his dad signed him up at the youngest age possible — 5 years old. He has continued to play throughout his life and is currently part of Building Champions Baseball Academy.
“Club baseball gets pretty time-demanding during the summer and winter,” he said.
Lee’s summer schedule consisted of league games and scrimmages against colleges around the Region.
The difference between high school and club baseball is the overall focus of each team. Lee said the Blue Valley baseball team focuses more on winning State, while Building Champions focuses on getting recruited by colleges.
The college recruiting method seemed to have worked for Lee. He is currently committed to play baseball at West Point Military Academy next year.
Sophomore Lauren Barash is a part of the Kansas City Athletic Cheer (KCAC) Senior 5 Platinum team. Barash is usually in the gym 12 hours a week for competitive cheerleading. This season alone, her team has attended five local competitions. Her team will travel to additional competitions in Texas, Chicago and Florida.
Barash became involved with cheer two years ago when many of her gymnastics teammates quit.
“The time felt right, and I fell in love with the sport,” she said.
Besides her competition team at KCAC, Barash is also a part of the Blue Valley junior varsity cheer squad.
“There are many conflicts during high school season, but I always put BV first,” she said.
Barash said she believes the major difference between BV and competitive cheer is the sideline cheering.
For BV cheer, the girls have one routine and a sideline cheer for almost every boys football, soccer and basketball game. For KCAC, the girls tumble, stunt and jump during a three-minute routine they perform during competitions.
“It’s basically the same for BV cheer, but the tricks I am used to performing with KCAC are a bigger challenge,” she said.
Senior Chloe Rogers dedicates a lot of her time to volleyball. Her mom played volleyball in college, so she has always been a big role model for Rogers. Rogers said her mom is one of the main reasons she started playing the game she adores.
Aside from being on the Blue Valley Varsity volleyball team, she plays club ball for KC Power. Her team has scheduled practices three nights a week.
Throughout club season, her team competes in six out-of-town tournaments around the nation. They also qualified for Nationals, which takes place during the summer.
“My team plays other teams from all around the country,” she said. “We even played a team from Hawaii.”
None of her teammates from BV are on KC Power with her, but her BV volleyball coach Dave Johnson watches her club team play whenever he can.
There are no conflicts between high school and club season. In fact, Rogers said the coaches at BV highly encourage all of the players to get involved in volleyball outside of school.
Rogers said the difference between high school and club volleyball is the pace and competition.
“The game during club season is just faster, and the competition is stronger,” she said.

Sophomore Kat Retz and freshman Lexi Palacio both play at one of the highest levels offered for girls’ soccer — the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) — through their local soccer club, Sporting Blue Valley.
Palacio became involved with soccer because she grew up watching both of her older sisters, junior Amanda Palacio and Blue Valley 2010 graduate Alysha Palacio, play soccer.
Retz said she loves the sport so much she has been playing for almost 12 years.
Both Palacio and Retz practice eight hours a week, plus an additional one hour strength and agility training two days a week. They travel across the country almost every weekend to different places including Missouri, Colorado, Illinois, Texas and Arizona.
On the other hand, high school soccer does not include a demanding travel schedule.
Retz compared club soccer to high school soccer.
“Although high school soccer is a lot of fun, club soccer is much more competitive,” she said. “The level at ECNL is just higher overall.”
Palacio said she anticipates what high school soccer will be like.
“I haven’t played soccer for [BV] yet, but I believe the difference between high school and club is the time and intensity,” she said.

Junior Alex Martin has been playing basketball since he can remember. His current team, MoKan Elite, has had multiple successes.
He dedicates a majority of his time outside of school to basketball, traveling all around the country for tournaments and league games. All Elite high school teams play in 4 to 5 National tournaments throughout the months of April and May.
Blue Valley basketball begins training in November, so there are no conflicts between club and high school for Martin.
The biggest difference between MoKan and BV is the competition level.
“High school [basketball] is just different,” Martin said. “The fans who come support us in high school make it a lot of fun, but there is also pressure to win against the rival schools. In club, it is a different type of pressure as we compete in games like the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Championship.”