The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

Student Athletes veer down an Alternate Avenue

Ben Wooldridge

Twenty years ago, the dream for many high school athletes was to lift the state championship trophy for their school.  Yet this dream has changed for many athletes as they decide to focus on club sports all year long.  Not participating in high school has become common for athletes as they believe it provides exposure to colleges, aids their development, and provides a pathway to professional soccer


According to the eligibility standards section of the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) website students “may not practice for, or participate with, a non-school team or in any organized non-school athletic competition and for your school team in the same sport during the school sport season.”  This rule makes competing for a club team in addition to a school team an impossible choice for most players.    

 For many players that wish to continue to play high level college soccer, such as Division 1, it is  in their best interest to choose club soccer over high school.  This is because the majority of  colleges are more attentive to the players at higher levels at various events such as showcases, Talent ID and tournaments.  College coaches are trying to build the best possible rosters for their school which leads them to recruit mainly the best teams across the country instead of high school teams. 

 “Playing for a high level club team has absolutely helped get more exposure to college coaches.  During showcases Somewhere between 20-40 coaches will be watching and taking notes at pretty much every game” said Abbie Moser, junior and member of the St. Louis Development Academy club team. 


Specifically for boys soccer there are 29 MLS academies across the country, in which their mission is to develop youth players to eventually become professional.  These academies participate in the MLS Next league.  MLS Next, according to their website, promotes that they provide “the best player development experience in North America.  Players have access to the highest levels of competition and to training to prepare them for their futures.”  This pathway aids a players development since they are playing against the country’s best talent week in week out.  Justin Heienickle, sophomore, is a goalkeeper that plays for St Louis City SC academy, a Club, which participates in the MLS NEXT league.  “City has helped me grow as a player because I have a specific coach that is focused solely on goalkeeping.  I’ve grown in my distribution and shot stopping tremendously since joining the club” said Heienickle.  


In addition St Louis City SC academy focuses on developing players so one day their dream of playing in the stadium for the professional team will come true.  For example, three of St. Louis City’s academy graduates have already signed homegrown contracts, which essentially is a professional contract allowing them to play professionally.  These three players chose to play for City’s academy over their respective high schools teams which propelled them to where they are today.  Many youth players are striving for their same success including freshman, Dominic Dobbs who is currently on the U-16 St. Louis City SC academy team.

 “I really enjoy club soccer because that’s what I want to do with my life, I want to go pro and I feel like club soccer takes it more seriously than high school,” said Dobbs.  


As a result, of playing club soccer, his goal of making it to the big leagues one day becomes less and less of a dream and instead an opportunity.  


Although some choose to play club soccer instead of high school, there are still incredible players that choose school soccer due to being surrounded by their friends and the chance to win championships in the name of your school.  High school soccer provides players with the perfect social camaraderie of attending school with your fellow peers and immediately after going to practice with them.  Westminster alumni, Payton Mathews reflects on his senior year as the most enjoyable year in high school, highlighting the impact of soccer in the fall. 


 “Your soccer team you practice with everyday is all of your best friends.  The relationships I made with my teammates were amazing including my best friend to this day that I only met through this team,” said Mathews.  

High school soccer leaves a lasting impression on players as they spend everyday with their friends that become like brothers to them.  


Westminster students love competing in school focused activities such as the annual Spirit Week.  These competitions allow for expressions of school spirit pride.  Soccer is  no exception as students love competing in their schools name.  In high school soccer players are able to compete against other schools which can create rivalries and fun banter between various teams.  The season concludes with a chance of playing in end of season championships which include districts and State where the whole school cheers for your success.  Austin Mcarthy is currently in his third year playing for Westminster’s varsity team and has loved every second of it.  


“There is no better moment when playing a district championship soccer game in front of your student section.  It fills you with energy and feels amazing to play with the school behind you” said Mcarthy.  

While some athletes decide to pursue their dream of lifting the state championship, others are more inclined to seek the day when they put pen to paper by signing for a professional club. Instead of rushing to the instant decision that these student athletes are traitors or lack school spirit, Westminster students, parents and staff should learn to recognize the complexity of the decision that goes behind the scenes.  


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