Club athletes: Excelling outside school

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Club athletes: Excelling outside school

Hope Werstler has competed at the national level for figure skating and is a certified coach. 
(Photo courtesy of Nathan Mandell)

Hope Werstler has competed at the national level for figure skating and is a certified coach. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Mandell)

Hope Werstler has competed at the national level for figure skating and is a certified coach. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Mandell)

Hope Werstler has competed at the national level for figure skating and is a certified coach. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Mandell)

By Frank Rodriguez, Editor-in-Chief

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Being an athlete at Lane creates a special high school experience: recognition at pep rally, sports banquets and ceremonies, being a lettermen; the list goes on and on.

However, not every athlete is a part of that experience. Often forgotten are the students who do sports outside of the Lane Tech athletics department.

Since Lane does not field a team in every sport, some athletes turn to clubs and external programs to continue their sports outside of school.

Club sports can often take a lot of time out of a student’s schedule, especially when they do not coincide with their school schedules.

Dillon O’Keefe, Div. 953, rows for the Chicago Rowing Foundation and said the time commitments that club sports require can have an impact on schoolwork.

“It makes it a lot harder, to be honest,” O’Keefe said. “I usually don’t get home until like seven, and then you’re super tired after practice, so I don’t really wanna do anything when I get home.”

Hope Werstler, Div. 075, skates for Windy City Figure Skating Club and has competed at the national level in ice dance.

She said that club sports can oftentimes be overlooked compared to varsity sports when applying to college, also citing the large time commitments that come with them.

“I think the biggest aspect is on college apps,” Werstler said. “I can’t say that I was on a varsity sport, even though I do dedicate like 20 hours a week to a sport.”

In addition to the time required to do club sports, it can also be more difficult to advance one’s athletic career when doing less popular sports in college, due to fewer schools offering programs.

Gymnast Alexis Ochoa, Div. 976, said that he hopes to continue gymnastics in college, but will still be content if his school does not offer a program.

“There are limited opportunities for a male gymnast to go,” Ochoa said. “There aren’t a lot of schools that offer it.”

While playing club sports in high school, athletes also commented on the social aspect of being on non-school related sports teams.

“I think it allows you to be close with a separate group of people, which I think is really nice,” Werstler said. “It’s sort of like a separate community outside of school, but at the same time, you don’t have that tight knit group inside your school community, and inside such a big school, sometimes that can be a little rough.”

Werstler is one of the founders of Lane’s Figure Skating Club, which is set to compete for the first time this spring. She says that being recognized as a student athlete can be difficult when doing a club sport, and especially since it is not a varsity sport at Lane.  

“I can’t be on Lettermen, and we can’t go to any of the sports banquets,” Werstler said. “We don’t walk on the field [at pep rally], but there are still like ten of us, and our competitions are school functions.”

Ochoa also talked about not being seen as a varsity athlete, but still remained optimistic when reflecting on his experience. He said that even though he isn’t a part of a Lane sports team, he still loves what he does.

“When you think about it all, I’m still getting to compete and everything, and it would be nice to have that varsity status and if it happens, great, but right now, I’m fine that it’s not,” Ochoa said.

Werstler said that it’s important to consider different clubs and sports when supporting or featuring them in the school.

“Lane should look into trying to sponsor or highlight clubs that are doing things outside of the school,” Werstler said. “I think as a college preparatory high school, although we have so many opportunities, which is absolutely amazing, there are a lot of things that aren’t here.”

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