Student athletes aspire to make it to the next level of their sport. They make this step by perfecting their craft through experience.

A step some students are taking to do this is to play on travel teams, which most of the athletes have been doing since before they were eligible to play for the school.

Junior Dylan Sykes has been playing for both the school and his travel soccer team since 8th grade. He says that doing both not only gives him a break, but gives him the chance to build his character.

“Doing both gives you confidence,” Sykes said. “It [also] gives me a break from school.”

Senior Justin Nase has been playing for the Royals and his travel baseball team since sixth grade. He says his schedule is filled with practices and games.

“My weekends were consumed with baseball,” Nase said. “I had to plan my weekends off of it.”

Although the same sport, practices and games are different in what is the primary focus of the team.

“Travel is less on fitness and more on skill, and school is more on fitness than travel is,” Sykes said.

Sophomore Justin Starke says there are some things that make playing on both squads challenging. He’s also been playing with his travel squad and the Royals since sixth grade.

“[I had] no time to do extra hobbies,” Starke said. “It also had an effect on my body, like my arm.”

Starke also describes practices and games to have a major intensity difference between both levels.

“School is intense, it’s preparing us for the game,” Starke said. “Travel is more laid back, you get out about what you put in.”

Junior Austin Aaron has played for the school and his travel soccer team since 8th grade, and says that travel is the more intense level.

“Practice for my travel team is more advanced because we have to do more challenging tasks,” Aaron said.

Travel also gives the players more experience for the next level they wish to reach.

“School practices were more serious, as were the games, than travel,” Nase said. “At travel you got more experience with college coaches at the tournaments.”

Athletes have seen the improvement in their play thanks to their opportunities on both teams.

“[Playing both] has gotten me so much better,” Nase said. “I was constantly playing the game.”

Sykes says he would like to see more people from the school team do both.

“I would encourage them [the students] to do both,” Sykes said. “Even though it may take you away from school, it’ll help you become a better soccer player.”

The extra practice is something all the athletes agree that has helped them to improve their game.

“It makes me more ready for the game,” Aaron said. “Practice allows me to perform better for my team.”

Nase also believes more should play travel league and school league to reach their goal of having success on every level of their respective sport.

“Definitely [more kids should do both],” Nase said. “Our ultimate goal is to play college ball, so the more you play the game, the more you progress towards the goal.”

Starke says the results of playing both levels will benefit athletes in the long run.

“For sure, if they’re passionate about it [playing the game],” Starke said. “If it’s what they want to do in the future, the amount of reps will help you improve more.”

Aaron looks at doing both as benefitting the athletes coming up to the junior varsity or varsity level.

“Yeah I encourage it [playing both travel and for school] because it helps develop younger kids into better players,” Aaron said.