Welcome to another edition of Ask TBP. If you missed last week’s question on when to change teams, click here to catch up.
Here’s what we’re talking about today.
“School ball or travel ball? My son has played travel ball the past 5 years and now shows interest (a lot) in playing school ball (8th grade). Do I give up half a season of travel for school or just wait until he gets to high school to play there? Help please!”
—–Dad of middle schooler
Travel Ball Parents neither endorses nor opposes any of the opinions below. (Nope, not taking sides.)
My son played both travel and junior high ball at the same time. I don’t know if I would do that again. He got worn out and so did the
family. He had fun with both teams, but looking back I think it may have been too much.
——Cindy Costa, Turlock, CA
Try out for the 8th grade team and hope to make it. Your travel ball coach will (should) understand the importance of playing for your school team. There are many good reasons to do this, but here are three.
One, getting in the system in 8th grade will ensure that freshman, sophomore and varsity coaches (and beyond) get a good look at your son. If he plays well, this will give him an advantage for a position on the 9th grade team and might even help him to play for JV the same year.
Two, by playing 8th grade ball, your son gets to experience two baseball seasons, which will allow him to play many more games and further develop his skills.
Three, your whole travel team will be trying out for their respective school team once 9th grade ball starts, so your son shouldn’t be penalized because your school system’s baseball program starts in 8th grade. Once the 8th grade season ends, your son can join his travel ball team.
But, beware. Check your local rules. In many states, your son is not allowed to play for the travel ball team (or practice with them) during the time he is practicing and playing for the school team. If caught, your son’s school team must forfeit all games already played, and your son will be suspended from the school team. This is the case for all school teams 8th through 12th grade.
——Tony Midea, baseball dad, author of Navigating Travel Baseball – 7U to 14U
The question here is a bit interesting. “Do I give up half a season of travel for school or just wait until he gets to high school to play there? ” Is it you or your son that is giving up travel ball? If your son is very interested in school ball over travel ball, I would sit down with him and find out why. What does he feel he will gain by playing school ball vs travel ball? What does he actually know about school ball? Either way, I don’t feel a season off from travel will hurt him. If that is where his interest lies, then allow him that opportunity and allow him to make that decision. Travel ball will be there if he doesn’t like school ball.
—–Jessica Perry, baseball mom, Tampa FL
School? High school or middle school (association) baseball. High school baseball it is up to the coach if he allows you to play travel or even rec. during the season. With association/middle school baseball, you can play both travel and association baseball. Associations recognize travel players need the weekends off for tournament play so they purposely schedule league play during the week and makeup games late Sunday evening. Again how much does he enjoy baseball league ball? And in high school there is a big jump in talent and the SIZE of the fiiiiieeeelllddddddddd! Is he at first yet????
——Thomas Hall, baseball dad, travel and rec coach, assistant league director, Chesterfield, VA
Putting on your hometown jersey and representing them against other towns is an HONOR. Plus it sounds like your kid wants to play for his school, as he should. Call me old school but travel ball should NEVER be a priority over representing your community. I hate to point out the obvious, but NOBODY cares about a travel team except the people on that team. Everybody loves their hometown team.
Plus, if your son wants to play for his high school, it’d be wise to play for the middle school team. High school coaches are known to keep an eye on the middle school players that’ll be coming their way.
——Alton Mercer, softball dad, pro-wrestler, Madison, GA
Your son should play school ball. A few reasons why: the 8th grade team is the feeder program for the high school team and the varsity coach should be looking at those boys and working with them to prepare them for that team when they get there. Second, if he doesn’t play, the coaches won’t be able to evaluate him if they don’t see him play. And third, he will be playing with teammates he will be playing with at the varsity or junior varsity level and this will allow them to work and play together and gel as teammates. Travel ball will be there. If he is interested and talented enough to play, there will be a spot on a team for him somewhere. Don’t get me wrong. I love travel ball and it is the stepping stone to furthering your playing future at the college level but the kids still need to play for their high school program. Most travel coaches will tell them high school games come first as well as a college scout. Good luck!
——Joe Walsh, baseball dad, coach, Springbrook Township, PA
As the mom of a teenage girl who plays travel ball and school ball, I would allow him to do what he wants. You only get one shot at being a kid/teenager and if he thinks playing school ball will be fun then go for it. I am actually dealing with this situation right now. My daughter is a junior and has decided she does not want to play travel ball this year and doesn’t want to play at all as a senior. She is interested in track and field and wants to give it a try this spring. She plays in the band and would rather audition for drum major than play school ball. I support her 100%. This is her life and these are extra-curricular activities that mold and shape our kids into (hopefully) productive and happy adults.
——Catherine Wrighter, travel volleyball mom, coach, Lexington, SC
Travel ball usually offers a more competitive level, and MAY increase his chances of making the high school team. He may want/need a break from the demanding schedule and the chance to play with friends. That being said, if he is halfway through the travel ball season, I would not let him quit the team. I believe it is more important for kids to learn about commitment and loyalty to a team than to have their need for instant gratification pacified.
—–Dan Schillaci, baseball dad, Pleasanton, CA
A coach once told me “if you love baseball, play it whenever you can.” If you can manage the house, the car pool, the busy travel schedules and still squeeze in school ball, do it. Not only is it about the game and extra at bats, it’s about the social aspect as well. If it’s
just too much, the timing may just be wrong. But if it was my kid, who can’t get enough of the sport, and if I could swing all the scheduling around it, I’d go for it.
——Rob Monaco, baseball dad, little league coach, Bergen County, NJ
I normally stay out of the “Ask TBP” questions, but I’ve gotta chime in on this one. A major goal of all the travel baseball our kids play is to be better prepared to make their high school teams. Assuming your kid’s high school won’t be radically different from his middle school, the best training for the high school team is to play on the middle school team.