Youth sports filled with preparation, pressure - FOX Carolina 21

Youth sports filled with preparation, pressure

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Golfer Jensen Castle hits the links. (File/FOX Carolina) Golfer Jensen Castle hits the links. (File/FOX Carolina)
Hunter Marchbanks wants to play professional football or baseball one day. (File/FOX Carolina) Hunter Marchbanks wants to play professional football or baseball one day. (File/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Getting to the pros is a dream for many high school athletes.

But FOX Carolina found that even with nonstop preparation, the odds are shockingly slim.

Sometimes it comes with plenty of pressure from parents too. Whether you're a five star football recruit or a top golfer, training for college and pro sports takes an awful lot of time and effort.

It's a daily commitment. Still, the vast majority of kids putting in that kind of time won't profit professionally. The numbers don't lie.

We wanted to find some teens who are training to set themselves apart, and whose parents are paying for them to produce.

But are some of those parents putting too much pressure on their teens? Or better yet, whose dream is it?

Jensen Castle is 13 years old, but she's not your average teenage girl. Castle's been playing golf since she was two.

She's hit a new level in the past two years. Nine wins in 14 tournaments. She wants to be in the LPGA.

"That's my dream right now," Jensen said.

Hunter Marchbanks is poised to take over at quarterback at Westside High. He's also a top-tier baseball player.

Marchbanks wants to go to Clemson University and play either baseball or football professionally.

Working on his dream, Hunter's dad Tim sees his son pass up on things to practice every day.

"It is hard. When other kids are going off to play, or go to an event, he's on the practice field or he's in the gym," Tim Marchbanks said.

Jensen's mom Elizabeth sees the same thing.

"It's a way of life," Elizabeth Castle said. "They go, they chip, they putt, they just go all day."

Hunter and Jensen are just two of thousands their age training to sharpen their skills. It takes countless hours and thousands of dollars.

Buck Hall's a coach with Blue Chip Baseball in Anderson. His son Brooks is a catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers.

"The guy who's going to play Division One baseball that you're competing with, he's out at the ball field every day, getting better," Hall said. "So if you're not attempting to do that, you're going to get left behind."

Hall said his son had the talent, and loved to outwork the next guy. He sees plenty of kids put in the effort to reach their dream, but the reality is they simply don't have the skills to get there.

Some of those kids' parents continue to push them to practice, but they may have unrealistic expectations and get frustrated when the repetition doesn't provide results.

It's around Castle on the golf course, and Hall on the diamond.

"He wants to see their son be the hero that day and that's just not reality," Hall said.

What is the harsh reality is the punishment when the kid can't produce under the pressure

"I've seen it just destroy some kids," Hall said. "A lot of kids don't want to play again, because they don't want to fail."

So what's the line? The teen needs to train to make it, but if you push too hard, you could wreck their confidence.

If you ask the pros, it's simple... You shouldn't need to push them at all.

Tim Parker's a former pitcher for the Clemson Tigers. He was a third round draft pick with the Chicago Cubs in 1990.

"You have to love the game and that's what I think sometimes parents have a hard time understanding," Parker said. "When you love it, it's like a day at the park. But if you're out constantly out trying to have them have that killer instinct or whatever, that's not good."

It may be for the kids that need no push, like the Jensen Castles and Hunter Marchbanks of the world who want to practice over play.

The best shot they've got to turn a dream to reality is outworking the rest, to outshine the best.

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