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Club vs High School

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Club vs High School

High school soccer player Jessica Baez and club tennis player Nick Olomu.

High school soccer player Jessica Baez and club tennis player Nick Olomu.

Layla Mathews

High school soccer player Jessica Baez and club tennis player Nick Olomu.

Layla Mathews

Layla Mathews

High school soccer player Jessica Baez and club tennis player Nick Olomu.

By Julia McCarthy, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

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Whether you’re stepping onto Ford Field with a tiger plastered across your chest, or onto a court in Rome, Georgia, head to head against an unfamiliar face, an athlete’s commitment to the game is undeniable.

At Holy Trinity, students are given the opportunity to play any sport they desire. Although HT offers 41 team sports, some choose to focus their time on a club team. Junior Nick Olomu and senior Jessica Baez are among those who made the decision to focus their time on playing their sport in one setting, rather than both.

Olomu makes the commitment of constantly traveling for his tennis tournaments and practicing four times a week. Some of the places he travels fequently to play at are Orlando, Boca, Delray Beach, and Georgia.

He plays for the United States Tennis Association, and signs up for tournaments individually. Participating in singles matches pairs him against some of the top players in his age group. Playing for USTA gives him the exposure needed to play college tennis due to its competitiveness. USTA offers tournaments at multiple levels that raise exposure for college recruitment.

“The higher level the tournament is, the more exposure you get; it really helps with college,” Olomu said.

A major goal for Olomu is to play tennis for one of his dream schools: UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford, or Cornell. Playing in these tournaments also leads to sponsorships. A big sponsor of Olomu’s is French tennis company, Babolat. As his sponsor, the company sends Olomu packages which include racquets, clothes, a bag, and discounted string.

Baez decided to dedicate her time to the HT girls varsity soccer team and no longer plays for long-time club team, Space Coast United. After 10 years of being a club soccer player, Baez stopped playing because her favorite coach left the program, but a high raise in prices to be on the team eased her decision.

Even though she loves representing the Tigers in the winter, Baez feels the disadvantage of not playing soccer year-round.

“It’s kind of hard not having the same skill set as other girls on the team since I don’t get the same amount of training as them,” Baez said.

Something Baez doesn’t experience through playing high school soccer is the major commitment of countless hours playing and traveling outside of school. Any club sport involves players traveling out of town each weekend and practicing multiple nights every week.

“I like high school because I get to play with a bunch of my school friends that I get to see everyday and it’s not as big of a commitment as club soccer,” Baez said.

No matter where you play, or who you play for, the life of a student-athlete takes a lot of commitment and hard work. But in the end, it’s all about playing the sport you love.

This story was originally published on The Growl on November 20, 2018.

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