The Road to Collegiate Athletes

The advantages of club sports for future collegiate athletes


Eleni Adams, Staff Writer

As high school students begin to find what they are passionate about, some find that their passion lies with their sport and that they want to pursue their athletic career as far as it will take them. Student-athletes train day and night to improve their skills. After the high school season ends, athletes prepare to jump right into their club sport’s season. From between driving all around the state, to flying across the country on weekends, to training after school every day, student-athletes constantly sacrifice homework and sleep to pursue their athletic careers. Student-athletes utilize what club sports have to offer to improve their skills off-season, advancing  their level of play. Many clubs and academies have connections to college coaches to help their players have a good opportunity to play their sport at a collegiate level. Central Oregon has a variety of clubs and academies that students utilize to gain access to a higher level of play in their respective sports.

Local volleyball club, North Pacific Juniors has given many future collegiate athletes exposure to a high-level play of volleyball. Kate Doorn, a senior at Summit High School has dedicated countless hours of playing and training for NPJ, which has helped her to commit to playing volleyball for the University of Idaho, a division one college. Doorn owes her gratitude to NPJ for the many opportunities she has been given to play volleyball at a higher competitive level, which ultimately has made her into the athlete she is today. Doorn joined NPJ in eighth grade after playing on a Bend Parks and Recreation team for many years, in hopes of gaining greater access to a collegiate future in volleyball.

“NPJ coaches have so much more experience…traveling further than just Central Oregon was better competition as well,” Doorn said. 

Doorn’s eighth-grade year was the year she decided to become more serious about volleyball, such as playing for high school, club and hopefully for college. 

 “I knew that NPJ could help me with playing in college,” Doorn said. NPJ helped Doorn get her name out to college recruits through many tournaments and showcases, which allow players to show off their skills. 

“I’ve gone to so many showcases and clinics that helped me with technique,” Doorn said. 

Many members of the Summit Volleyball team, as well as the Bend High and Mountain View teams, have been a part of NPJ and other volleyball clubs like the Central Oregon Volleyball club (COVC) for the majority of their volleyball careers. Teams such as NPJ offer year-round training, giving opportunities to local high school athletes to improve their skills and become more prepared for traditional high school season play. 

Like NPJ for volleyball, there are club sports and academies for soccer that help improve student athletes’ skills and push them to achieve their athletic goals. Summit High School senior, Paul Fecteau is a player for the Summit Boys Soccer Team, the Bend Football Club (BFCT) and Oregon Premier Football Club (OPFC).

During Fecteau’s time at OPFC, he has traveled to Florida and North Carolina for showcases that let him play in front of college recruiters. 

“The coaches at OPFC have a lot of connections with other college coaches,” Fecteau said. “Going against the highest level of competition in Portland prepares me for any level of competition in high school.” OPFC has prepared Fecteau and many other of his high school teammates to play against high-level athletes in Portland, but also in other states such as Florida and North Carolina. 

Players on OPFC travel far and wide to ensure they are playing against elite teams. Much like Oregon Prospects, a basketball academy that takes high school varsity players from Oregon and Washington to compete in Las Vegas and Idaho, to play against high-level basketball teams. Collin Moore, a Summit sophomore and a varsity basketball player has traveled with Oregon Prospects to help him improve as a player and as a teammate. Moore started traveling for Oregon Prospects in 2020 and has since gained more confidence on the basketball court.

“Oregon Prospects has really helped me understand the game better,” Moore said. After experiencing a heightened level of competition and adopting newly learned strategies, Moore feels like he has become a more versatile player that can help his team succeed when traveling to other states with large competition. 

“My coach has connections with most schools on the west coast,” Moore said. College recruiters can not reach Moore directly because he is only a sophomore in high school. NCAA rules require athletes to be a junior or a senior for college recruits to contact them personally. The coach Oregon Prospects has been communicating with college recruiters about Moore and his potential as a collegiate athlete. 

Moore is very appreciative of the opportunities he has gotten through Summit, but without the help of knowledge from coaches at Oregon Prospects, he believes he wouldn’t have gotten as many college recruiter’s attention and he wouldn’t have been able to understand the game as well as he does now. 

Thanks to clubs and academies, players are able to use critical thinking when it comes to their favorite sport. They are able to understand the game better and connect deeper with their teammates as well. In a small town with little enthusiasm for lacrosse, high school students who are passionate about lacrosse are able to grow their knowledge of the sport through our local lacrosse clubs. Abby Bridger is a senior on the Summit varsity lacrosse team. As well as playing for Summit, she is a part of Thump Lacrosse, a local club in Bend. She is also a part of Top Left Nationals. Top Left Nationals is a club that brings girls and boys from Oregon, Montana and Washington to play with each other at high-level tournaments–mainly in California. Top Left Nationals was created for lacrosse players who come from more rural areas and may not be able to play in a competitive atmosphere. It allows them to play at a higher level. 

“Getting extra playing time is super nice, that way you don’t have to wait 9 months till the school season starts,” Bridger said. Club sports actively get athletes more hours of playing time than they would normally get during school seasons. Thump Lacrosse brings girls from different schools in Bend together. When lacrosse season starts for high school, girls who are a part of Thump Lacrosse will already know many of the players on the opposing side, which makes for a healthy competition. Thump works to foster a community of lacrosse in Bend in hopes of growing its influence with girls of all ages.

This season, the boy’s Summit Soccer team became the 2021 Oregon State Champions, a title they have been wanting for years. The Summit Boys Basketball team has been undefeated all season long as they await for playoffs. The Intense training from OPFC, NPJ, Oregon Prospects and Top Left Nationals has prepared high school athletes to go on and win a title as big as the state championship. Club sports undoubtedly have aided Bend athletes by creating an avenue towards more intense play and collegiate sports exposure.