I think y'all know by now where I stand on the AAU vs High School debate. AAU has its merits and I have no problem with AAU coaches defending what they do, it is their right to do so. I have a bias because I plan on being a high school teacher, but I strongly believe that playing and coaching prep sports in high school is something special that can't be replicated in any traveling or club scenario.
Case in point, this past weekend here in Vancouver, they played the Province (state) High School Championships in soccer, and a local school won the Senior Girls championship. The way amateur soccer is setup here, club soccer dominates, kids play club to get recruited and get college scholarships (much like AAU basketball in the US). To understand a little as to why playing prep sports has more intrinsic value, here is a quote from one of the girls from the winning team:
"For a lot of us, it’s bigger than club soccer, because we’re all so close," said UBC-bound Rachael Sawer, who scored three times in the final. "This team is so tight. We love each other. I can’t express how amazing everybody is. To me, I’ll probably remember this more than anything in club soccer."In explaining the difference between the two -- club and prep -- the head coach of the winning team had this to say:
"In terms of careers, club soccer is the thing," said Handsworth coach Ted Smolen. "But high school is the time they get to play for themselves and for their peers. Club soccer becomes like a job for some of them after awhile. With high school, it’s really for the love of the game. They’re playing with their friends.The key words being 'friends' and 'love of the game'.
High school is a ritual that has such cultural significance that the memories usually last a lifetime (good ones and bad ones). And it certainly extends into prep sports, players have common experiences in the classroom -- 8:30 English with Mr. A, 11:00 PE with Mr. B, chasing girls/boys during lunch, etc... Players on club teams also develop friendships, but the point is that because in high school you struggle as group together playing prep sports has that much more significance, and in the end you make it out of high school together.