Club sports come with a cost in time and money


Sam Bull and Sam Weinheimer

While most athletes participate only in high school sports, there are a select few that take their talents to the next level with club and travel activities. For those student athletes, managing the cost and time of those club sports can be difficult.

Extra time can be especially hard to come by for junior Barron Woodring, who competes for Team Illinois hockey on the boy’s 16U team. 

Previously competing for the Chicago Blues team, Woodring is no stranger to extreme time commitment, and sometimes has to miss school for tournaments. 

“I miss a lot more than last year because it’s more competitive, so I miss around six days a semester. It’s a lot heavier at the beginning [of the school year] when the season is really going,” Woodring said.

He doesn’t miss school just to go to daytime tournaments, either. Woodring travels all over the country and occasionally internationally for competitions that last the entire weekend.

‘We go to Canada, we’ve been to Colorado, Boston, and Michigan. I know this year we’re going to Nebraska, too,” Woodring said.

With all this travel, Woodring also has to find a way to manage his schoolwork throughout the course of the year. Traveling, late practices, and full-weekend tournaments take their toll on his schedule. 

“Some practices start at around 4:30 p.m. and end around 8 p.m. but others start around 8 and end at 10:30. So it’s difficult, especially when we have the later practices. Sometimes I have to take homework to the ring, the car, or the airport,” Woodring said. 

Unlike high school sports, club sports permit their students to practice and play games all 7 days of the week, including Sundays. IHSA rules, however, do not regulate or condone any sort of high school practice or game on Sundays.

Sophomore Mikayla Sweeney plays for Lions Jrs. Volleyball Club. Sweeney admits that club volleyball has been extremely time consuming and a gateway for unhealthy habits. 

“I definitely don’t get enough sleep during club season. It’s hard especially with honors classes and extracurriculars to get all my schoolwork done. Balancing friends, school, and club volleyball is very hard because the coaches expect you to give all of your time to club.”

According to Woodring, one year at Team Illinois, including travel, costs upwards of $20,000, including a $10,000 downpayment. In comparison, the District 99 Athletic Participation fee is $115 for a full season.

Sweeney not only says that Lions Jrs. costs thousands, but that the team members must pay for the travel costs of themselves and their coaches. She believes that travel costs that come with club cut down on her chances for vacations with her family.

“I haven’t been able to go on a family vacation during spring break in 4 years. In June, nationals is in Florida for us, and it kind of takes up the vacation money that we’d have,” Sweeney said.

Every club sport has astronomically higher prices than its high school equivalent. According to TIME Magazine, the cost of club lacrosse, for example, averages to about $7,956 a season and can reach a maximum of $17,500.

Sweeney believes that club sports fail to incentivise having sufficient time for other important things such as school.

“I’ve found that during the club season I’m forced to put school around volleyball, while during the high school season it’s easier to balance the two out,” Sweeney said.