There are rumors and innuendos swirling in the local sports scene that could adversely influence decisions made by aspiring volleyball players and their parents.
The notion is being circulated that athletes who want to make, or play on, either the Rim Country Middle School or Payson High School teams must play club ball in the off season.
While it is a given that club ball can improve the skills of individual players and college recruiters are paying increasing heed to club teams, I’m certain none of the PHS or RCMS coaches would make their roster decisions concerning which players to keep and who will play on whether or not the athlete was a member of a club team.
Those types of biases are unprofessional and no concerned coach uses club play as a factor in making roster decisions.
In fact, the PHS program currently has several players who do not play club ball, and three of the four seniors did not play club ball last winter.
On the RCMS seventh-grade team there are no girls who have played club ball, including PHS head volleyball coach Arnold Stonebrink’s daughter.
I’m also certain that local club coaches, all of whom are very fine, don’t want athletes trying out for their teams just because the youth might think of it is a pathway to making a school team or gaining more playing time.
Club volleyball requires a financial commitment from every family and there are good reasons for playing on a club team — but using the team and its members as a stepping-stone is not one of them.
The club volleyball/high school sports agenda faces another dilemma in that there are often conflicts between the two schedule calendars.
For example, a club volleyball member, who also plays school basketball or softball, might have games on the same day in both high school and club sports because the seasons often overlap.
Sometimes a young athlete might have to make a tough decision on whether to play in a school basketball or softball game or travel to a club volleyball game.
About four years ago, Stonebrink coached on the local club volleyball scene and was faced with having to advise some of his players on whether to travel with the club team or play in a school basketball game.
I recall Stonebrink telling the girls that if one of the club tournaments conflicted with a high school sports event, they were to opt for school sport and pass on the club tournament.
Often, coaches don’t give advice in those types of scenarios preferring to let parents and athletes make the decision.
I admire Stonebrink for stepping up and offering his professional advice.
He told me later he loves volleyball and works to enhance the sport, but at the same time wants to see all the school teams succeed.
The conflict between club and school sports is not unique to Payson. It occurs around the country, especially in large cities where recruiters often battle for the services of the most talented athletes with bright futures.
For those who want to play club volleyball, tryouts for the 12-14-year-old Club Rim team will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 13 in old Payson High School gymnasium.
Tryouts for the 16 to 18-years team are set for 10 to 11 a.m., Nov. 20 in PHS gym.
Candidates should come dressed out and ready to practice.
For more information, call Donna Moore at (928) 474-4400.