Can a young athlete change sports at age 15 and find success?My son's baseball career came to an abrupt end after playing at the highest level from age 9 to 14. A nagging elbow injury limited his ability to throw hard enough to compete on elite teams anymore. He could have moved to a lower level team, but he had lost his love for the game after three years of constant ice and physical therapy.
He decided to concentrate on golf and set his sights on making the high school team as a freshman. It was an ambitious goal for a kid who has spent more time on the baseball diamond than on a golf course, especially considering the school he was going to attend. The school of 800 boys only has two golf teams of 12 golfers (JV and Varsity). The team only took 4 freshman. Nic's score after 4 days of tryouts had him ranked 5th. He was the last freshman cut.
After he was cut, I asked him what sport he was going to play. He was discouraged and did not want to tryout for any sports. I told him that he needed to play at least one sport in high school because it is such an important part of connecting to the school and making friends. I talked him into trying out for the volleyball team. Nic tried to convince me that he could not make the team that wins state championships often. I talked to the coach and the coach told me that while the program is one of the best in the state every year, a good athlete with little experience can still make the freshman team.
While that is what I was hoping to hear, I was a bit surprised because my perspective was baseball and soccer. Boys baseball is a very developed sport and it would be impossible for a player new to the sport to compete with kids who have been playing travel ball for 5 to 7 years. Soccer is also very developed. High school players have been honing their skills on elite club teams since they were 8, so it would be very difficult to jump into soccer and expect to make a team at a big high school with competitive sports programs. The coach explained that boys volleyball is different. While girls volleyball is very developed in our area with 10 to 15 clubs training girls from age 8 on, boys volleyball is not. So a good athlete can pick up the game and compete in a relatively short amount of time.
Nic signed up for a winter volleyball club team to prepare for the tryouts. He came home from the first practice and said he felt like a fool. He knew how to bump, serve and spike, but he did not know the positions. The game was much more complicated than it looks. The coach and the guys on the team gave him the business in a lighthearted way. They called him Kobe because he was the only one wearing basketball shoes. Still, they taught him the game, he improved quickly and he started to love the game.
Nic tried out for the freshman volleyball team at his HS and made it. He did not play a single point until match number 9. Then he got his chance and he did not sit out another point all season. This year, he made the JV team and plays outside hitter and middle back.
Oh yeah, he was also named the team captain.
The Main Point
Keep competing and trying new things. You never know what it is going to lead to.