The Truth About Travel Sports

“I overcame being burnt out by reminding myself that the reason I play soccer is not because I need to win all the time or stay in shape, but because I love the game and it makes me happy.”

— Hope Thurman

One of the extracurricular options for children and young adults is travel sports. While there are positives with playing travel sports, there are downsides as well. Travel sports are difficult; 70 percent of kids playing organized sports drop out before their teens.Travel sports are also expensive, softball can cost up to $5,000 a season. A handful of Woodgrove athletes share their journeys through travel sports, good and bad.

Woodgrove Senior Annika Rohs has been playing softball for as long as she can remember. Rohs describes her experience with playing travel softball: “I’ve been able to meet people all around the world with the same goal as me, to play D1 softball.” Rohs has visited many exciting places because of softball including California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Florida and Georgia. However, there’s a toll that comes with being a top tier athlete, Rohs says, “I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough, didn’t put enough time into practice, or was just overwhelmed. When this happens I go to my teammates for support. They know what it feels like to be in my position. When one of us gets down, we use each other to power through these feelings.”

Having gone through the recruiting process, Rohs offers a piece of advice to all athletes who are trying to achieve their dreams. “No matter who you are, this process is stressful, and I used my friends, family, and teammates to get through it. It’s hard to play in front of who could be your future coaches, but my advice would be to give it your all.” Rohs is committed to further her softball career at the Division 1 level at Virginia Tech.

Woodgrove Senior Maddie Pabon has grown up loving the sport of basketball. Pabon regards her experience playing AAU basketball with fondness, “I would say it has affected my family bonding the most. We have been able to travel and make many memories together.” These memories Pabon will “cherish forever.” Pabon has learned many things from the sport other than just pure basketball skills. “I have learned how to be a good teammate, player, and person. I also learned time management and independence through travel basketball.” Pabon has goals to extend her basketball career by playing at a Division 3 school in the fall.

Woodgrove junior Hope Thurman has grown up playing travel soccer and has learned many life lessons. “How to manage my time better, be committed to something, put in extra work in order to reach a goal, how to communicate with coaches and all adults, how to celebrate with class, how to lose with dignity, and how to be a team player.” Thurman also experienced downsides. ”I have definitely been burnt out from playing soccer. I have even considered quitting a few times.” Learning to play through pain and work through difficulties is a skill players of all ages develop. “I overcame being burnt out by reminding myself that the reason I play soccer is not because I need to win all the time or stay in shape, but because I love the game and it makes me happy.” Thurman has decided to step away from sports in college and focus on academics.

Jack Hill, a Woodgrove Junior, has been in the basketball community since he was young. To him it was all worth it.“I’ve gained a lot of new friends and met a lot of new coaches and teams through travel sports. I wouldn’t say I missed out on much because basketball is what is important to me.” Playing travel basketball caused a few challenges for Hill, but he found a way to overcome them. “I have felt overwhelmed at times, but for the most part I don’t feel that way because I know how much I love the sport,” commented Hill. Hill plans to play basketball in college but is focusing on the season ahead.

Hill directs traffic while dribbling the ball. (Jack Hill)