Athletic Teams Too Exclusive

Nikki Honda, Sports Editor

High school sports should provide healthy competition, teach fundamentals, and foster improvement.  In addition, scholastic athletics should develop skills like teamwork, and provide an environment where friendships are born and strengthened.  It should also be a welcome break from the rigors of academics that students confront each day in the classroom.

However, at Campolindo and its network of feeder schools, this is not quite the case.  In this community kids begin intense training and are forced to specialize in a particular sport earlier and earlier in their athletic experience.

Middle schoolers begin preparing for high school team tryouts years in advance.

Growing up as a multi-sport athlete, this was most evident to me in my experience with volleyball.

In both my 7th and 8th grade years, Stanley Middle School and Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School were the teams that made the volleyball championship game. It is no coincidence that a majority of students from these two middle school powerhouses go on to play at Campolindo.

Camplindo’s sports programs are brimming with extremely talented, extremely motivated individuals. When tryouts come around, oaches are already aware of the stand out performers they will have the opportunity to choose from as they put together their rosters.

The majority of eager, dedicated athletes struggle just to make junior varsity or even freshman squads.

In my experience as a freshman, it was difficult to stand out because there were so many other hopefuls pushing themselves to earn a spot on the volleyball team. I can recall looking over the roster and being ecstatic that I had made the cut, but also feeling upset that over a dozen other girls, who I had grown close to over the summer of open gyms and clinics, had not even made the freshman team.

I later found out that one of these girls moved, and ended up becoming a star player on the varsity team of another school.

Looking back at it now, I realize how crazy this fixation with athletic achievement has become.

How does a small Division III school like Campolindo set such a high bar?  Why are so many left out of the high school athletic experience?

Campolindo is fortunate to have hard-working and passionate coaches who want their teams to excel. Coaches and athletes alike, put in extensive time practicing, conditioning, and working to improve. In addition, many of Campolindo’s teams attend summer camps, weekend clinics, and some even meet with sports psychologists in order to achieve the right mindset to be successful.

Campolindo ranks high relative to the league, section and state in the majority of its sports. Throughout its history, Campolindo has produced several individual and team state champions.

Just last year 7 athletes were awarded DFAL Most Valuable Player honors, 58 were named 1st team all league, 55 were 2nd team all league, and 7 were named Honorable Mention.

In addition, many individual athletes were offered athletic scholarships to highly respected colleges.

While I do not believe Campolindo should lower its standard of play to accommodate less talented athletes, it does need to offer alternatives. This could include having fewer cuts to junior varsity or freshman rosters or even offering intramural teams for the more popular sports.

While this would, of course, create new problems such as overcrowded practices, less gym time for each team, and the need for additional qualified coaches, the benefit would be worth it.  Many students deserve an opportunity to learn, complete, and more than anything else, relax in the environment of a sports program.

Some teams are already advertised as “no-cut” sports and welcome all athletes: cross country, girls’ golf, and track and field.  This philosophy should be expanded to other sports.

No-cut sports allow for a larger reserve of athletes to replace injured ones, more competition to drive individuals to improve, and opportunities for all students to achieve success rather than creating a divide between those with talent, and those less talented, but no less deserving of extracurricular opportunity.

Campolindo should be proud of its athletic program’s accomplishments. However, it needs to do a better job of offering that experience to a broader range of students.