WHS sophomore Brayden Meseke competes in club basketball in addition to his school’s team. “It helps me to go against tougher competition and helps bring a winning culture to Wabaunsee,” Meseke said.
A large number of Wabaunsee students compete in school-sponsored sports, but only a select group compete in competitive, traveling, or club sports.
Club sports give athletes the opportunity to improve skills in the off-season, play in front of college scouts, and let talented, small-school players compete against larger teams. “You will be able to see the difference in players. These kids are able to play basketball longer, which builds their basketball IQ. From [Spradling Skills Academy, SSA] they are getting a lot of information from very good coaches that played in college,” head boys’ basketball coach Christian Ulsaker said.
To be part of a club sport, an athlete must go to a scheduled tryout for the team and demonstrate their skills through drills and position-specific assessment. Following the tryout, the coach will notify the athlete if they will be joining the team. Athletes selected will attend team practices, get team gear, and compete against their own age group or older.
Female athletes compete with Wheat State Elite and advance their skills in Darting Basketball Academy. Senior Maddy Hutley has been competing with Wheat State Elite, and says “It has allowed me to play against girls who are bigger, stronger, and better than me. This has made me a smarter, well-rounded player. It has also allowed me to make lifelong friendships with people I never would have met and opened the door to many opportunities.”
Former Wabaunsee and current Washburn University basketball player Abby Oliver said club basketball benefited her. “It gave me some exposure to a faster pace game and to play against experienced players. It also allowed me to be around past college players and receive insight from them,” Oliver said.
Another team benefiting athletes is SSA Basketball Academy. “I wouldn’t say that it’s necessary, but you can see the difference in players and it’s very helpful in getting college looks,” says Ullsaker. Sophomore Brayden Meseke has played for SSA for three years and has brought experience to the team. “It helps me to go against tougher competition and helps bring a winning culture to Wabaunsee,” Meseke said.
— Lauren Schutter, @schutterlauren