Bouncing into action: Club sports have proven to be vital for high school athletes

Elakai Anela

The ball bounces up and down the court, with parents screaming and referees blowing whistles. The energy and excitement is unmatched, whether it is a High School or recreational league game. Club and school sports are both enjoyable. So, what is the difference between club and school sports? A club sport is an organization formed outside of school – making sports accessible to students who might not have made the school’s team. A school sport is much more competitive and usually entails a tryout to get on the team. 

Posing after winning the championship, The Gents celebrate while holding the trophy. (Photo courtesy of The Ranch)

Boys’ varsity basketball coach Jay DaMaestri, who has led the team to a 23-7 record, 15-1 in the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL), stated the importance of club sports.

 “I [think] that club sports help feeds into our school sports. For example, Jake Vasquez played for numerous club teams leading up to his stint here [at Redwood]. He played for Saint Patrick’s Basketball League [Catholic Youth Organization] and the North Bay Basketball Academy (NBAA), which helped define his raw skills before he came here. He was able to make the team as a freshman due to the hard work he put in on the clubs I mentioned earlier,” DeMaestri said.

Vazquez also attributed his rise in basketball, lacrosse, and football, the three sports he plays to club sports.

“I had always loved playing sports since I was young. First, it was baseball, then I transitioned into basketball and lacrosse, slowly picking up more and more passion for each sport. My mentor was my dad. I’m grateful for his significance in my growth. He placed me into club sports from a young age, which helped mold me into the player I am today,” Vazquez said.

Even though club sports cost a fortune to play, they are worth it. Depending upon the level of competition, some club sports can cost upward of $5,000. There is no way around paying for it. However, some teams can offer financial aid for teenagers aspiring to play the sport they love. What you pay includes the salary for the coaches, and referees, the cost of the venue, and player insurance. While teenagers get the experience of playing competitive sports, the cost is a big factor in why most kids opt to stay out of club sports.

Many club sports go under the radar; a well-known recreational basketball league has taken over Marin. The league is Marin Social Sports, run by The Ranch and headed by Bruce Miller. Since the winter of 2020, Miller has been the commissioner of Marin Social Sports and views it as an excellent opportunity for high school kids all over Marin to go out and play with their friends. Unfortunately, Miller is retiring as the head of Marin Social Sports, but he hopes the league can continue without his presence. 

Dribbling the ball up the court, Jake Vazquez calls out the play to his teammates. (Photo courtesy of Jake Vazquez)

“We created Marin Social Sports for people to connect. When I started the High School Basketball League in 2020, right before COVID passed, I never envisioned it to be this popular. I’ve heard from students and parents that people talk about this league a lot. Setting it up was challenging, but I’m glad to see the kids out on the court competing for pride. The main goal of our program is to bring people together, and we accomplished that goal. This last season was far and away my most fun and favorite to run,” Miller said. 

Club sports have fed into school sports, and their importance can’t be understated. Although it may seem as though there’s a lower level of competition in club sports, they have proved to be a key component when feeding into school sports.