Why do high school sports still cut athletes?

Alexa Di Novo, Staff Reporter

Every high school athlete goes through a similar tryout process. Sports tryouts can be extremely stressful and scary for newer athletes, especially if this process includes cuts. Being cut from a sport can be a heartbreaking experience for a student athlete. 

So why do many sports teams, such as basketball and volleyball, do it?

“Being in cut situations is nerve-wracking,” freshman boys basketball coach Julio Fernandez said. “It’s not fun, and it makes you inherently question yourself. Self-doubt creeps in.”

If the process is so nerve-wracking, why do coaches cut athletes?

One reason is the logistics of coaching an overabundance of athletes. It is not feasible for a freshman basketball team — even with two squads — to keep 50-60 kids. This echoed in an article from the National Federation of High Schools, as it says in an article on their website, coaches “can only house so many students in each level while still providing meaningful instruction and competition.”

Sure, Fernandez said he would like to have them all on the team, but that creates an obstacle for coaches.

“Keeping too many student athletes becomes a detriment to building a competitive culture,” Fernandez said.

Another reason is the limited space. If Elk Grove kept every athlete who tried out, the already-cramped gym spaces, especially in the spring season with 13 sports, could potentially be a headache and a hazard for coaches. Elk Grove’s wrestling team, which is a no-cut sport, had to use an alternative space in the fieldhouse at the start of the season in order to accommodate a larger number of wrestlers.

Fernandez said he understands the pressures of trying out for a sports team, as even he has been cut from a team when he was younger. He said he believes that hard work pays off, and so does showcasing your commitment during a tryout.

“Every single one of the kids that we cut are told, ‘This isn’t a test of who you are, or who you could be as an athlete,’” Fernandez said. “At the moment, you aren’t what we’re looking for and your skill could be improved. If you truly love it, continue working so that you can try it out next year.”

On the other hand, multi-sport athlete Leann Shaya also understands the heartbreak of being cut from a high school team. However, she also understands that skill plays a big role in making the team.

“If you don’t have any experience in the sport, they will probably cut you,” Shaya said. “It makes an athlete feel bad because they get to high school, they want to try a new sport, and the coach is not giving them the experience they need in order to succeed.”

By cutting athletes as a coach, Fernandez understands that he is not able to give athletes the experience that they may have been hoping for, but at the end of the day, he hopes to teach them an important lesson.

When the decision is made to cut an athlete, Fernandez always says that feeling dejected isn’t the best route to take.

“In the meantime, don’t sit back, don’t just do nothing, find something that is your passion,” Fernandez said.