Sunday, March 16, 2014

Youth Sports or Science Fair?

If your young athlete had to choose between competing in a sports tournament or a science fair what would you do?

In December, my daughter, CC, worked on her science fair project. All honors students in her school were required to participate. My daughter decided to study beach erosion after seeing the destruction of the New Jersey beaches from Hurricane Sandy. She replicated a shoreline and ocean floor in a large clear plastic container, simulated waves and then measured the movement of the sand with and without barriers. She also took time out from this project from time to time during the month to try out for a National Level Junior Olympic Volleyball team.

CC won first place in the local science fair and qualified for the District competition on March 15th. She also made the National Level JO team which meant lots of travel. The first thing that we did was check the volleyball schedule to see if the science fair was a conflict. As luck would have it, her volleyball team was schedule to play in a big tournament in St. Louis. We had a decision to make.

Crazy Youth Sports Parent Alert

The St. Louis tournament was scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday had two sessions, an am session and a pm session. I was hoping that CC's team was going to get the Friday morning session so that we could drive out on Thursday night, fly back to Cincinnati for the Science Fair competition and then fly back to St. Louis on Saturday evening to be there to play on Sunday. We planned to drive home after the tournament. I found flights that worked but waited to book the flights until the final schedule was announced. As it turned out, our team was placed in the Friday afternoon session and there were no flights that would work. We had a decision to make.

We decided to forgo the volleyball tournament. It was a really easy decision to make. CC has played in 100's of sports tournaments in her 13 years. She remembers some of them vividly but most are a blur of muddled memories. The Science Fair was going to be a memorable event that had the possibility to shape who she will be. She is not going to be a professional volleyball player.

Another girl on the team, decided to decline her invitation to the Science Fair to play volleyball.

The Main Point

Only 5% of athletes get to play sports in college, so academics should always trump sports.

Actually, a student can increase their chances of getting a scholarship if they are good students. DIII coaches often work with the admissions departments to give academic scholarships to lure athletes to play for their school.

As it turned out, we made a good decision, CC won several cash awards and was selected to advance to the Ohio State Science Fair in May. The first thing that I did was check the sports schedule. She does not have a volleyball conflict, but she does have a soccer tournament that weekend. We have a decision to make.


  1. Congrats to your daughter! I'm sure it was a hard decision, but sounds like you made the right choice. Good luck to her in the state competition or the soccer tournament!

    1. Thanks So Cal Soccer Mom.

      Reading your last post about 14 year olds needed to make a choice. We are dreading that. My daughter loves both Vball and Soccer, but both sports are in the same season here in Cincinnati. Good luck

    2. That's so hard! Here in California Girls Volleyball is a Fall sport and Girls Soccer is a Winter sport. Maybe you should think about moving- ha-ha! Regardless, I'm sure it's difficult to play both at a high level. My older daughter wants to try volleyball this summer and I'm excited!

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