Looking for new paths

Club sports are important opportunities for players.

Club sports. Notorious for their crowded tournaments, rowdy parents, and lengthy travel weekends to cities in the middle of nowhere.  Despite its unconventionality, these events can be paramount for high schoolers who play sports.

Most high school athletes join expensive club sports, which usually consist of ambitious travel teams. They provide ambitious athletes with another chance to refine their skills and have college scouts notice them. However, youth tackle football players do not have this opportunity.

In California, youth tackle football remains the only club sport unauthorized to coincide with high school football programs. Since it is known as a violent contact sport, in an effort to promote safety the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has not allowed the development of club teams.

Coaches are feeling the pressure after the latest announcement that all high school sports have been postponed until 2021. This further delays the start of the 2021 high school sports calendar in.

Due to safety concerns, CIF postponed practices until January of 2021. As a result, they will be limiting play since players will not be prepared and may reduce injuries.

“We are going to be playing a season, but it is mostly going to be just against trinity league competition,” said Junior Varsity safety Sean Dilliplaine.

For the past two years, the Eagles have had zero wins in the Trinity League. This year, they want to redeem themselves. Despite the uncertainty of the season, the team has a desire to improve and display their progress.

“We got some tough competition, but we have been working our [butts] off and I believe we definitely have the potential to win some,” Dilliplaine said.

As players and coaches get sick they have to quarantine and miss practice. Not having some key teammates leading practice can definitely take away from the dynamics of effective and motivating practice.

“I know a couple of people on the team are starting to lose some of the fire they once had because of all that’s happening, but I really hope we can just pull through,” Dilliplaine said.

Not practicing diligently and often to maintain peak performance will certainly affect some players and cause them to lose focus. Players usually practice every day, and a club team can enable this under the rules of CIF.

“We do actually have a team outside of school…it is supposed to be unaffiliated with SM, so we’re able to do more outside activity and for the past 3 days we’ve been off-campus training,” Dilliplaine said.

It’s up to the coach and players to stay motivated during the pandemic. Both rely on each other to keep everyone moving in the right direction.

“We always got coach, who is always bringing the energy, always bringing the juice to practice,” Dilliplaine said.

Through implementing club teams, the football players have an alternative to get in extra practices while not having to abide by the CIF safety regulations. Dilliplaine explained that these off-campus practices are beneficial as they have better prepared the team mentally and physically as they have more flexibility during their workouts.

“I’m not sure exactly when we’ll start the season, but when it does, we’ll be ready,” Dilliplaine said.