December 13, 2023


Study Abroad 101

U.S. Fall, Winter, & Spring High School Sports for Int'l Students

Everything you need to know about American fall, winter, and spring seasons high school's sports culture.

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You probably have wondered why the U.S. has always dominated the Olympic games and so many American athletes consistently beat world records. You might be obsessed with the NBA or the NFL. You have seen American films centered around a sports athlete or team. Sports are, without a doubt, one of the most significant parts of American culture. Knowing about sports will help international students become better immersed into their school communities. Participating in one or two sports may even better their chances of being admitted to a top university!

In this blog post, we will answer your most frequently asked questions about fall, winter, and spring season for sports in U.S. high schools.

How many sports are there to choose from? Are the options different for boys and girls?

At the high school level, there are around 15 different sports to choose from at each school. Anyone is eligible to be on a sports team, regardless of whether they have sufficient experience playing the sport or not. Most sports offer both a boys and girls team. However, there are a few that are only offered to one or the other.

Sports typically offered at U.S. high schools (although it may vary slightly from school to school) include:

  • Baseball (Boys)
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Cheerleading
  • Cross Country
  • Dance Team
  • Field Hockey
  • Football (Boys)
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Hockey
  • Indoor Track & Field
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Softball (Girls)
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Wrestling

There are three main seasons for sports: fall, winter, and spring. Most of the sports in the U.S. are played during the same season, however, it can vary due to the location of the school and its climate. Typically, football and soccer are played during the fall season. Basketball, swimming and diving, and hockey are played during the winter. Meanwhile, track and field, baseball and lacrosse are played during the spring.

Fall, Winter, and Spring Season High School Sports - Amerigo Education

​What does a team look like and who organizes high school sports?

There are different levels of sport teams for high school based on skill and experience. They are divided into two major groups: 1) Varsity and 2) Junior Varsity (JV). Varsity team is the main team made up of the most experienced and skilled players, and typically play larger games and competitions.  Therefore, the Varsity team usually consist of juniors and seniors.

The JV team is for less experienced players who still obtain the experience of playing in competitive games against other JV teams.  JV players usually consist of younger students, including freshmen and sophomores. However, if a freshmen or sophomore is quite skilled at a sport, they may be invited to join the Varsity team.

All teams have a structure with a head coach, an assistant coach, and players. Additionally, usually 1 or 2 players serve as Captains from the Varsity level (usually a senior or junior).

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is the umbrella organization that provides leadership for the state high school associations of all 50 states and affiliate organizations. The NFHS is a body that writes the rules of competition for most of high school sports and activities in the US. Over 19,500 high schools are members of the NFHS.

How much time will I have to commit if I join a sports team?

Playing a sport in high school takes a lot of time and commitment. Depending on the sport, a student athlete can have 1 to 2 games, matches or competitions per week. Practice is required every week day. Practice will start immediately after school, around 3pm, and last until 6pm. However, there are many benefits that students receive from being on a high school athletic team.

Benefits of High School Sports for Students:

  • Improved Academics: According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, student athletes have better educational outcomes, including higher grades, higher achievement test scores, and higher educational expectations beyond high school.
  • Leadership and Teamwork skills: Playing on a high school sports team requires a lot of time working together with other team members. Therefore, students can gain leadership and teamwork skills, which are important throughout their lives.
  • Physical health and wellness: High school sports promotes physical fitness and endurance.
  • Time Management: It’s a big commitment to be on a high school sports team. Keep in mind, this is on top of a heavy school load, quizzes, homework assignments, AP tests, standardized testing preparation, etc. Therefore, being on a team helps students learn to manage their time so that they can succeed in the classroom while also contributing fully to a sports team.
Fall, Winter, and Spring Season High School Sports - Amerigo Education

How does playing a sport help a student in terms of college admission?

Studies have shown that members of high school sports teams tend to excel academically. They receive pressure from their coaches and peers to perform well academically. If a team member falls behind in their studies, there are repercussions from the coach that can affect their involvement within in the team.  

Furthermore, university admission officers understand the time and dedication student athletes endure being a member of a sports team. They understand the long hours after school and weekends that are required, and take that into consideration when looking at prospective students’ course load and grades.  

Therefore, if students are able to excel academically while being an active member on a sports team, the chances of standing out amongst other candidates is quite high. This is especially true for international students because relatively few international students participate in U.S. high school sports—it certainly helps an international student to stand out from their peers in the competition. See more in the video below.

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