Definitions

junior varsity

Junior varsity team

In sports, usually at the high school and college levels in the United States and Canada, members of a team who are not the main players in a competition (such as a football, basketball, or baseball game) are called junior varsity players. The main players comprise the varsity team. Nearly all Junior Varsity players are in their freshman and sophomore years in school though occasionally upper classmen may play on JV teams. Especially skilled or physically mature freshmen and sophomores may compete at the Varsity level. At larger schools, there may be two Junior Varsity teams for some sports, with a lower level team typically consisting of freshmen only.

Who junior varsity players are

Members of a junior varsity team are underclassmen determined by the coaching staff to have less experience or ability than those on the varsity roster. As such, junior varsity teams are used to prepare these athletes to compete at the varsity level.

Some teams require participation on a junior varsity team before being eligible to try out for a varsity team. These players can provide the varsity team with extra depth, with their service as back-up players.

Many sports teams have assistant coaches responsible for developing the talent of junior varsity players.

When they play

Frequently, a coach will sometimes call on one or more junior varsity players at a point in the game, especially when a varsity player is injured, is not performing well, or (because of a violation) is disqualified from further competition. If a junior varsity player does well, he/she will often see more playing time in a future game or even get moved up to the varsity level.

Often, a team will have many talented players (including those who could start on many other varsity teams), but the coach is unable to come up with a rotation that allows everyone to play.

The decision of when to play junior varsity players in a one-sided game is often at the coach's discretion; this depends on his/her strategy, the time remaining in the game, the point margin, and the situation. Sometimes, the coach of a losing team – especially if they are not that good or have many inexperienced players – will continue to play his main players against the winning team's junior varsity players to give his team experience.

However, if for instance in a basketball game, if the winning team is ahead by a substantial margin with late in the game, fans can usually expect the coaches of both the winning and losing teams to "empty their benches" — that is, remove the main players and play junior varsity players for the remainder of the game. The junior varsity players can impress coaches during this "garbage time" in hopes of gaining more playing time in subsequent games.

Other sports

Other sports have different ways of determining junior varsity participants. For instance, in high school wrestling, there can only be one wrestler competing for a team at a particular weight class in a given varsity match. The team's representative is often determined by a "challenge match," in which the top two wrestlers at that weight compete for the right to participate in the varsity match. The loser wrestles that night's junior varsity match.

A similar format may be used for sports such as golf and tennis, with players who lose to varsity opponents participating in the junior varsity part of the meet.

Junior varsity games

Junior varsity players often play in specially-scheduled events (called junior varsity games) to gain skills and experience. Sometimes, these games are played immediately before a varsity contest; or if a school has a sophomore or freshman team, the junior varsity game will take place on another night. Records and statistics are kept for the junior varsity team, and some leagues offer a junior varsity championship. An assistant coach often acts as the head coach for these games.

In some sports, such as tennis and golf, a junior varsity meet will take place simultaneously with the varsity event; however, the scores are separately tabulated. In track and field, a junior varsity "heat" of a particular event may take place either before or after the varsity "heat" (again, separate tabulation of meet results).

Quite often, an underclassman who plays on a junior varsity team one year gains enough experience to be one of the main players the next season. A team's head coach will often attend a junior varsity game to evaluate talent and decide if a player is ready to play in the main part of a varsity game.

Junior varsity teams may or may not travel with or take the field/court with the varsity team. This is often dependent on the size of the varsity team and the availability of transportation.

Slang terms

Slang terms for junior varsity players include:

  • JV's, short for "junior varsity."
  • Mop-up players, with their playing time called "mop-up time" or "garbage minutes."
  • Players who "ride the pine" or are "bench warmers", since they spend most of the game on the bench.
  • "Second-stringers" (and third-, fourth-stringers, etc.); compared to a game's starters and top substitutes, who comprise the first-string. These lower strings sometimes are as talented as the first-string, with little or no drop-off in playing ability; as such they may be able to easily outplay a really weak team's first string).
  • Scrubs, considered a derogatory term by some.
  • Reloads, also considered derogatory by some.

The act of a coach inserting junior varsity players into a game is often called "emptying the bench."

See also

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