Varsity teams are made up of the strongest players in college and high school, while junior varsity consists of less experienced players. Some schools hold sporting events for both levels, while others have junior college players as backups. Some students are immediately good enough for varsity, while others use junior college as a proving ground. Some players may never make varsity and can remain in junior college to continue playing competitively.
A varsity team consists of the core members of a sports team that will usually represent a college or high school in sporting events. The college contains essentially the strongest players and is usually made up mostly of junior or senior level students in college and high school. Junior varsity, in contrast, is the group of second-round players who have not yet gained enough experience to play at the varsity level. These are usually freshman and sophomore athletes, who will eventually progress to the varsity level.
Frequently, both colleges and high schools hold sporting events for both junior and standard colleges. This way, less experienced players have the opportunity to play and practice their skills in a particular sport. A soccer team, for example, might play two consecutive games, one for each team level.
In other cases, junior college players may make up the “second string” athletes. They may be called up to play in college games, especially when a team’s chances of winning are fairly certain, such as if one team leads by many points. Another instance that these team members might call is if the university members are unable to compete due to injury, illness, or other reasons. In this case, junior members may be asked to become varsity players, practicing with the varsity sports team.
At larger schools, varsity players often have second string and backup players for each position; thus a young college player may never make the second string. Not all players have to go through this process. Some students are so athletically gifted that they are instantly good enough to have college status, no matter what grade they are in. There are certainly a lot of sophomores and freshmen who are immediately on varsity teams.
In other cases, junior college remains a proving ground and players are closely watched and helped develop greater skills in their chosen sport. High schools and colleges may employ both a college coach and a junior college coach, as practice schedules are often vigorous for both teams. The varsity coach pays attention to future junior varsity members, since ideally, he/she will eventually coach the varsity players themselves.
Some players don’t develop the skills to play on the varsity team. They can remain in the junior college throughout their college or high school career. For those who simply enjoy a sport, this can be satisfying. The competitive student may be upset that he never makes college. On the other hand, an athlete who falls short of varsity standards may get to play more often on junior than he would if placed on a second string team. There may be benefits to staying in junior college, since it can give students more time to play competitively.