The Tower Pulse

Eat, sleep, practice, repeat. South students tackle off-season sports with school work

Allison MacLeod '19, Staff Writer

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Wake up at three in the morning, drive for four hours to Indiana, play volleyball for eight straight hours, shower, set alarm, go to sleep, repeat.

This is a regular weekend schedule for Cynthia Hogan and Charlotte Brecht, both ’19. They each play at different, but still elite volleyball levels; Hogan plays for a select level team at Michigan Elite Volleyball Club in Warren and Brecht plays at the national level for Legacy Volleyball Club in Novi.

“During club season, I practice for four hours a week, not including drive time to and from practice,” Hogan said. “For tournaments I am usually gone all Saturdays and Sundays, and occasionally on Fridays if the tournament is really far.”

With the club season being such a significant time commitment to the girls, and since it begins in December and does not end until June according to Brecht, it makes it hard to be social outside of volleyball.

“I still have a life outside of volleyball, but mine just is not as social as people who are not as involved in sports,” Brecht said. “I still think I have done good job at balancing the two.”

Hogan agrees that it is hard to miss out on a lot of social events with her friends in Grosse Pointe because of volleyball.

“Sometimes it is very hard to hear stories about all your friends hanging out that weekend without you because you were at a tournament, especially because I am friends with a lot of seniors so I know that our time together is limited before they graduate,” Hogan said.

In addition to missing social events, playing can make it hard to concentrate and do well in school.

“Whenever I have a big tournament, I can actually see a drop in my grades because I will not be as focused that week, and I will be really tired from practices that week because we go extra hard,” Hogan said.

Not only is volleyball a huge time commitment, but it is a pricey sport as well.

“Club season tuition is usually between 3,000 to 5,000 dollars every season because we have to also pay for uniforms, hotels every weekend, and food,” Hogan said.

Due to volleyball being such an expensive sport, Brecht cuts back on other aspects of her life such as exotic vacations, birthday presents, and fancy cars according to Brecht.

“Sometimes I feel guilty because my parents pay for it, but I try not to ask for much else from my parents and I always try to get the most out of the practices and tournaments,” Brecht said. “It is not my money, but I do not regret spending it because I think it has helped shape me as a person and allowed me to get better at something I love.”

Both Brecht and Hogan want to pursue volleyball after they graduate high school in college.

“I plan to continue playing after high school because it has always been my dream to play college volleyball, but as of now I am still searching for the right school for me,” Brecht said.

Gabriella Peruski ’18 used to play at Michigan Elite with Hogan, but could not keep up with it so she quit.

“Volleyball was definitely not worth giving up my social aspect. I remember sitting in the hotel rooms at night with just my mom, and watching all my friends’ Snapchat stories of them having fun while I was alone.” Peruski said.

Peruski’s coaches were another reason for her retiring from her volleyball career.

“I did get sick of playing, especially with the awful coaches I had the past two years; they had no idea what they were talking about.” Peruski said.

For a national elite team, the estimated cost in 5,100 dollars, for a regional team the estimated cost is 2,600 dollars, and for a state team the estimated cost per season is 1,500 dollars, according to jvaonline.org. These costs do not include food, equipment, gas money, or hotel expenses.

“I felt very guilty about spending that much money,and that is partially why I stopped playing, because it was not worth it anymore if I did not absolutely love the sport.”

Volleyball is not the only time and money intensive sport, soccer is as well according to Cameron Zak ’18.

“For club soccer, I spend about six to nine hours practicing and traveling to and from practice each week,” Zak said.

Zak plays on a national level team with Nationals Soccer Club in Saginaw County, and also attends similar  games out of state that make soccer a large commitment for her.

“The time commitment can sometimes be overwhelming, especially during school because I have little time to do homework or study,” Zak said.

Zak will be playing Division 3 soccer next year at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

“I feel a little guilty for spending so much money, but at the same time I think it is worth it because I love doing it,” Zak said, “Since I am playing soccer in college, it has also benefited me financially.”

There are many things to pay for when playing soccer according to Zak.

“I pay for soccer cleats, my uniform, shin guards, a ball, sock tape, a bag, and travel expenses such as hotels and plane tickets,” Zak said.

Cameron’s sister Jordan Zak ’20 also plays for Nationals Soccer Club, and also travels for it.

“I typically spend ten hours a week playing soccer,” Jordan said, “I practice six hours a week and then play four hours of games”

Jordan does not feel guilty about the 2,000 dollars worth of money she spends each season according to her.

“I sometimes feel guilty, but both my parents really support me playing.” Jordan said.

Jordan said that since soccer takes up a lot of her time, it has helped her manage her time better and become more efficient when she does have free time.

“(Soccer) does add stress to my life because I have to budget my time between school and soccer and the college recruiting process,” “it has definitely helped me with managing my time because I know I need to get everything done so it forces me to plan ahead.”

Jordan believes she could receive better grades in school if she did not played soccer at such an intense level, according to her.

“Although I think I receive pretty good grades, I do believe that if I did not play a sport I could definitely improve them because I would have more time,” Jordan said.

Jordan also said that playing soccer has surprisingly strengthened some of her friendships in different ways.

“I think it (soccer) has impacted my friendships in a positive way because it allows me to meet people I never would have if I did not play soccer,” Jordan said. “But, it can also be a struggle due to the fact that I am not able to hang out sometimes because of my commitment to soccer.”

Both Jordan and Cameron have never remembered soccer not being a part of their life.

“I have been playing for 12 years and there has always been a soccer game on the TV whenever I walk into my house,” Jordan said.

Jordan never takes a season off of soccer because she wants to continue to grow as a player and there is only one month-long break in the year from playing, she said.

“I could not imagine what I would do in my free time without soccer,” Jordan said, “I enjoy playing soccer and I know if I play year-round I will grow and improve as a player.”

Eventually, Jordan would like to play in college, like her sister Cameron. “I am planning on pursuing soccer in college,” Jordan said, “I just do not know which one yet.”

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