High School Soccer- Yes or No?

2015-01-29 14.54.45My BSG will be starting High School in the Fall (sob!), but as she is on the younger side of her age group, many of her teammates are already playing HS Soccer this season.  It’s a strange year for our U14 team as only 5 girls are not in High School so it’s been a very nice break for BSG…the first long break she’s had in many years.  Our Middle School actually plays in a competitive “league” with other middle schools in the area, and although LSG is super excited to be playing on that team, BSG decided that she would rather not play.  The picture above is from the last middle school away game- pretty nice view from the bleachers, huh?

Amongst high level club soccer players, there is a debate raging about playing High School soccer.  Boys on Academy teams are forbidden from playing HS soccer and ECNL on the girls’ side is entering the discussion as well.  As I don’t yet have a High Schooler, all my information is second hand, but here are some of the arguments I’ve heard and read for and against playing HS soccer…


-It’s fun to represent your school and play with friends

-It’s a well needed break from the pressure of club soccer

-Removing high level club players from HS teams brings the overall level down and is discriminatory against players who don’t/can’t play club


-Players get injured

-Level of play is lower and hinders development

-It interrupts the flow of the club season

-Club coaches as HS coaches are biased against players not from their team/club

The most common argument that I hear against HS Soccer is that since the level of play is lower, high level players are targeted by opposing teams and the risk of injury is high.  Several girls in our area are on US National teams and they are all playing HS- and at great risk for injury. I’ve heard numerous stories of injuries this year at all levels- Varsity, Jr Varsity and Frosh/Soph.  I know several club girls that are considering running track or cross country next year and keeping soccer just for club.

On the flip side, it can be so much fun to play for your school!  Most club games have only parents cheering on the sidelines, but many HS games have bleachers filled with supporters, cheerleaders and even reporters from the local newspaper.  Teams gather for team dinners and ride the bus together for away games.  Being a part of something can make or break a high school experience and decent grades are a team requirement.

High school occer team huddle

BSG already signed her name on the interest list for HS soccer, so by this time next year I should have some first hand knowledge.  Do your kids play HS Soccer?  What’s been your experience??



20 thoughts on “High School Soccer- Yes or No?

  1. My daughter (Nor Cal) is the same age, but her U14 team is the opposite – only 4 girls are in 9th and playing HS this year, so the club team is still practicing and playing this year. The U17 top team in her club (same coach) almost all elected to play a winter league instead of playing for their high schools. The coach hates players playing high school, injuries are a huge concern and he also says they develop bad habits. The HS coaches have a few short weeks to WIN at all costs, so it is very physical, rough, ugly soccer, from what I hear anyway. Some of the NorCal ECNL clubs are already forbidding their girls from playing HS.

    I’ve also heard that if you are not a top player on a high school team, you might practice every day and get very little playing time, the same 11 girls play every game since winning is so important. So it can’t be fun for those players. And if you are a top player on a not so good team, playing bad soccer could get old fast – I know my daughter always hated when they did soccer in PE in middle school since after the first day they would always have a special “M(her name) rule” that after the first 3 goals she had to pass to someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

    This has been on my mind lately because my daughter will most likely be attending a small alternative high school that doesn’t have sports. She is there now for 8th and LOVES it, but I am sad that she will miss the high school soccer experience. I was a HS swimmer and those are my best HS memories, though come to think of it, the club coach also hated when his swimmers took time off for HS! I’m also concerned about how taking several months off will affect her soccer, though part of me thinks a break would be nice and she can still play futsal, practice with a younger team (at least the first year or two) and maybe find teams to guest play with in the winter, since more teams seem to be electing not to play HS.

    1. Hi Michelle- Thanks so much for reading and commenting! That’s so interesting that the U17 team opted for a winter league instead. I’ve heard all the same things as you about girls practicing and never playing because the rosters are so large. I’m glad your daughter loves her school, but can understand why you are sad to have her miss HS sports. I was a band geek (lol) but those were my best HS memories and it’s fun to belong to a team. I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities for her to play during HS with other teams if not her own. Thanks again and best of luck to you 🙂

      1. In your area can kids that are alternative schools or home schooled play sports for their “home” school? That is how it works in AK. Although I think in some areas of the state they can play at any school but once they commit to a school they can not change “sports school” without penalty.

        1. Thanks for reading and commenting! I’m pretty sure, but I would have to check. We have quite a few friends that are homeschooled and play sports, but they mainly play for private schools, not public. Obviously, if it’s a private school it eliminates the “home” school issue, but I do know others that played for their local public school. I will see what I can find out.

  2. I just found your blog through Shay’s Pinspired! I’m a soccer mom to two boys ages 10 and 7. My oldest has been playing club/travel soccer for four years. I found your post very interesting! On practice night, I see a lot of the older teams out on the fields practicing as well. One thing that is interesting here (Fresno/Clovis) is that it seems like MOST of the kids in club soccer also play high school level. In fact, the club season takes a break right now to allow for school team play and then State Cup (NorCal) ramps up for the bigger kids in the spring. Now that my older son is on U11, we are playing for State Cup in two weekends, whereas last year it took place before Christmas. I’ve never heard any stories of high level club players being injured while playing for school teams. I’m going to ask a good friend of mine who has kiddos on both club and school teams. Gives me something to think about! I’ve always assumed my kiddos would play for school as well as club. I wonder if it is a different atmosphere in southern CA vs. northern CA? Interesting! Looking forward to reading through many of your posts! Only soccer moms really understand what we go through!

    1. Hi Heather- thanks so much for reading and commenting! You are definitely right that it takes one soccer mom to understand another 🙂 It’s the same here that most kids play HS and our clubs season takes a break as well. It’s a new thing that kids are deciding not to play (or being encouraged not to play!) but I’m wondering if it’s a just a passing trend or something that will really make a difference. I hope my girls play HS- it looks fun and I’m always up for more cheering opportunities. Ha-Ha! I’m off to check out your blog 🙂 -Lisa

  3. I think it all depends on what your daughter is looking for. If her travel team is more high-powered and more likely to get her noticed by college scouts, while the high school team is really more like an intramural team, maybe she doesn’t play. On the flip side, being on a team that is a little less high-pressured and with her friends can make for a much more enjoyable season. There is no “right” answer. It’s what works best for your girl.

    1. Thanks for reading! Yes, I completely agree that each situation is different. It’s funny, I was just going to write an update on this post because my LSG came home from school very excited because the Principal read her name over the loudspeaker during announcements and said she played well in the previous day’s game. That’s not going to happen with her club team, so I’m happy that she’s having both experiences and will probably have both in HS as well.

  4. My dd is in the same boat, she’s on the young side for her team so some of the girls are in high school this year. Her club has two teams which has resulted in them still being able to practice and they even played in a tournament (combining the two teams) before winter break. It’s actually been pretty low key and almost relaxing for dd.

    As for high school soccer dd is planning on doing it next year. She is looking forward to the social aspect of it mostly and especially being able to play with friends who are not her age group (she has quite a few friends who play U13 and she has a few that play U15 and U16 all of whom she may play with in high school).

    My son played high school soccer and it is a different experience. There is more variance in skill level than in club especially at the Frosh/JV levels. Our high school mostly hires club coaches so we found favoritism to be an issue with the coaches playing their club players more and moving them quicker to Varsity than kids who didn’t play for them no matter what the skill level. With that being said, we found that the level of play was similar to what we experienced in club.

    We’ve watched a few girls games this season though and the Frosh level has huge variance. There are teams that are practically AYSO level and there are teams where the talent is much higher which sometimes results in not fun games to watch. As for whether it’s rougher and more prone to injuries, we haven’t necessarily seen that although at least one of dd’s friends who plays on JV was injured early in the season.

    1. Yes, it’s been relaxing for my DD as well! I’ve really enjoyed the little break for her as well. It will be interesting to see how our girls do in HS soccer next year. I know mine is excited for the social aspect as she has soccer friends of all ages. It will be fun for me too as I’m friends with many of the parents!

  5. We just finished up our first year of JV high school soccer with our DD. She loved playing for her high school team. There is something to be said for representing your school, getting out of class early to take the bus and play other schools, team dinners, watching all the teams play (Frosh, JV, Varsity) and supporting your fellow classmates. It’s a rite of passage of sorts.

    From a parental perspective, we enjoyed every second of it. We loved watching her and cheering her on from the stands. We were lucky enough to be a part of a very competitive sports program. It’s hard to say if she would have still enjoyed it as much, if the team did not challenge her. I would venture to say that she probably would have though.

    The downside of high school soccer, most all of our club girls felt that it was more of an individual sport. Everyone has such a short time to make an impression on the coach, is fighting for starting positions, it was not a team environment. Our particular school had a large pool of very talented soccer players and quite a large bench full of girls. So play time was an adjustment. I do believe that it was humbling though, which is a good lesson to learn from time to time.

    In the end though, all of our girls could not wait to get back to their club team, where everyone supports each other and their team is more like a family. The season was definitely not as rigorous as her club season, but it was a good break for her mentally and physically. She is looking forward to next year as a sophomore…

    1. Hi Soccermama- Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I completely agree with your comments, except I hadn’t really thought about the aspect of the individual sport. It must be the same here, because I’ve gotten a few emails from moms about how their HS girls can’t wait for our club team to be back together. Good luck with the rest of your season!

  6. My stepdaughter just finished her second year on her high school team. Last year, she tried out for varsity as a freshman and made the team. So it really boosted her confidence when we told her to go for it. Her high school team isn’t very good and she did get injured both seasons. However, she certainly enjoyed her time with and got to make friends with girls she otherwise may not have been able to know. She also appreciated that she got to represent her school and didn’t realize how much pride that would generate until after the season concluded. Since her club team practices an hour away, school friends got to come see her play when they usually can’t. If things work out the way we anticipate, she may even make captain during her junior year. These are reasons we always encourage her to play high school.

    1. Congratulations to your Stepdaughter- that’s exciting to make varsity as a freshman. I completely agree with how much fun it is to play with friends and have friends be able to watch you play. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  7. My daughter’s high school is exceedingly competitive when it comes to soccer (I live in SoCal). You generally don’t make the team unless you have club or AYSO Select experience. We have a frosh/soph, JV & Varsity team for a total of about 60 spots. This year they had 90 girls try out for those spots. My daughter played goalie for the frosh/soph team and had a great time. Their coach was a marvelous woman who focused on conditioning as well as soccer. The team had a pasta dinner the evening before each game which the girls really enjoyed and helped them bond. Most of these girls had played together in club but playing for their school bonded them and it was apparent on the field.

    1. That sounds like a great HS experience! It’s competitive in that way at our high school as well. I’m so glad your daughter had a positive experience and I hope mine do too! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  8. Just found your blog and thought it is very interesting how things are done in different states. I live in Southern Oregon and we have rec soccer and competitive soccer through our local club. Competitive is by tryouts and a lot of traveling, they play in the Fall and Spring. Once high school begins they no longer have option to play fall soccer with the club, only HS soccer. My son has been playing competitively for years now just so he can get a spot on the local high school team. He just started doing drop in games with the high schoolers (he is 12) this summer to give him an advantage when he tries out for the high school team in 2 years.

    1. Thanks so much for reading! That is interesting how things are done differently state to state. Good luck to your son in HS! I think my older DD would be very upset if her 12 year old little sis came to HS workouts 🙂

  9. Just found your blog – and it’s welcome to find somewhere to talk about this stuff! So many of my friends have daughters who play soccer recreationally, and when I say we’re packing the car for another tournament, they say “Oh yeah we play soccer too!” No, hon, it’s not the same. Our DD plays class-1 premier competitive soccer, ODP, etc. and is on a big sports high school varsity team. It’s a different world. But she loves it, so we support her. One issue no one seems to have noted about letting your club soccer playing daughter join the high school team — it means (at least in the first couple years) your 14, 15 year old is going to be mixing it up with big 18 year old girls (seniors.) The technical skill level is usually not as high as it is in the club system, so there will be aggressive play by bigger, less technical players sometimes. Also uneven refereeing. But it’s so rewarding for the girls who meet new friends, ride the bus with their teammates, and get acknowledged at their school. There are both risks and rewards.

    1. Thanks for reading! Yes, it will be even more interesting now with the DA and girls not being allowed to play HS.

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