San Diego

The Cost of Raising an Olympian

Lessons can begin in preschool with private coaches charging up to $150/hour

Have you ever watched the Olympics and thought, 'my child can do that?'

Being an Olympian isn't just about time and dedication: it's also about money. 

Becoming an elite gymnast, for example, can be a long and costly endeavor. San Diego coaches recommended starting children in classes around three or four years old. 

By age six, the child would then start competing regionally. But it's a costly process: it can cost around $200 to $300 a month at first. 

Once they get a little older, it could cost at least $500 a month for the next 10 to 12 years. 

Additionally, in gymnastics, there are very few ways to cut down on expenses. 

Volleyball starts getting expensive around high school. Travel teams can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 a year.

"If you're looking at the average cost of $250 to $500 a month, every month, 6 to 18, say 12 years," said Matthew Cassidy, the boys' team head coach at the San Diego United Training Center.

San Diego is home to several volleyball players at the Olympics this year. Four of the 24 Olympic volleyball players started at the San Diego Volleyball Club.

Julie Lichtman, the financial manager at San Diego Volleyball Club, says the sport can be expensive. 

"Private lessons can range between $60 to $150, depending on how the club does it, an hour," she said.

Volleyball players looking to go to the Olympics usually start seriously training in high school. However, children playing the sport can start being competative when they reach seven years old.

When all is said and done, the team sport can cost parents an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 per year.

Sailing can also be a pricey endeavor. 

Chris Wright, who runs the junior sailing program at the club, says once sailors get to a more advanced level, the yacht clubs will let athletes train on the club boats, which can cut costs.

"I have kids who've sailed every day for the past nine weeks," he said. 

A youth membership here costs $50, with about $20 a month in membership fees. But that's just the beginning of the expenses.

Two Olympian sailors first started their journey right here at the Mission Bay Yacht Club. Caleb Paine and Briana Provancha began their journeys on San Diego's Mission Bay when they were just seven years old.

Lichtman, whose daughter is on the national Volleyball team, said the most important thing for those looking to go all the way is love of the sport. 

"All in all, it has to be the passion of the child because it's hard work, if it's not their passion it will be hard to go all the way," she said.

Contact Us