Stephanie Blake, girls volleyball coach at Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland, says she looks for athletes who “don’t give up just because something is hard or because they didn’t achieve the goal.” (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

I know that lots of KidsPost readers dream of playing pro sports some day. But not many kids make it to a major league sports team.

A more reasonable goal is to play on a high school team. Millions of kids do it and have a great experience.

Making any high school team takes more than just size, strength and speed. So I asked several experienced and successful high school coaches what personal qualities, other than athletic ability, they look for in their athletes. Here are their answers.

Stephanie Blake (girls volleyball — Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland): "Someone who does not give up and who enjoys competition on a daily basis. They practice and practice until they can't get it wrong. They don't give up just because something is hard or because they didn't achieve the goal."

Trey Taylor (football — South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia): "Selflessness. We ask that all our players know their role on the team. Not everyone is going to score touchdowns or get their name in the paper, but everyone has a job to do which helps us to be successful on game day. You must do your job to the best of your ability."

Amber Beaudoin (field hockey — Fairfax High School in Fairfax, Virginia): "The ability to be present. Focus on learning at practice while you're at practice. There are lots of distractions for our kids. I ask my players to stay locked in. Be ready, willing and mentally prepared to receive the message your coach is teaching."

Dan Harwood (boys basketball — Magruder High School in Rockville, Maryland): "I want kids who can put the team first and get along well with their teammates. Learning how to put team goals ahead of your personal goals is difficult to do for many young athletes. But if they can learn how to do this, it will help them in all aspects of life."

Whitney Minnis (boys soccer — Wilson High School in Washington): "A commitment to excellence. That means you have to be willing to make certain sacrifices and not make excuses. Our tryouts and practices take place at 6 o'clock in the morning. Believe me, everybody is sacrificing something at 6 in the morning."

I should also mention that several of the coaches stressed the importance of academics. Athletes, no matter how talented, can't help their team if they are always behind on their schoolwork.

How do young athletes get better at the qualities coaches are looking for — competing, paying attention and being a good teammate?

The answer is simple: practice. Right now, before you get to high school.

If something is difficult in sports or in school, you have to stay with it. You also can use every opportunity to practice listening to your coaches and your teachers. In addition, you should encourage your teammates and classmates instead of putting them down.

Who knows, all this practice may help you make the team.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 22 sports books for kids.