The transition from the less intense nature of middle school sports has been a completely new and exciting experience for the current freshman. This change has been rather abrupt, which lead to different reactions to new elements of high school athletics. Joe Grasso, a current member of the freshman football team, shared that sports are “far more competitive” now. He enjoys how they are set up and run, and likes the challenges of the new level of intensity. A member of the freshmen soccer team, however, discussed how having “practice every day can be challenging”. These disparities in opinion have to do primarily with innate differences between middle and high school sports.
Prior to students entering high school, athletes around town mostly participate in sports separate from schools. In these club sports, practices are often limited to a few days a week and games are scheduled for weekends. This dynamic is completely flipped in high school, where mandatory practices occur daily and weekends can be clogged up by workouts and games. With this adjustment, students are expected to readily take on new responsibilities such as being able to get to practice on time. If not, they could potentially be penalized for tardiness. Also, as practice starts just after school finishes, students must go straight from their last class to the locker room to get ready. Though these time constraints can make high school athletics more difficult than middle school club sports, buses provided for the team by the high school transport players to and from games. In middle school, however, it was the responsibility of the athletes to find a way to attend games on time, forcing parents to take up the burden of transportation.
Regardless of the difficulties that freshmen face in adjusting to athletics, there are numerous benefits that they receive from participating in sports. The first is the opportunity to develop relationships and friendships with people of different grades. Not only do freshman get to know their peers from both GW and BF, but freshmen also get to know their upperclassmen peers. Off the field, it is nice to see a friendly face in the halls and outside of school that you may not have a class with. High school coaches also have greatly helped freshman grow as not only athletes but as individuals. Aware of the challenges freshmen face upon entrance into high school, coaches encourage an environment that is welcoming while also gets them used to the new high school system. As a result, there is a unique bond between a team and their coach which contributes to the smooth transition to the new high school schedule. Finally, most athletes have to practice for several hours daily, forcing them to get home rather late. Even so, most student-athletes grow accustomed to handling both their rigorous athletic schedule and academics. As a result, freshmen sports teach students to manage time well outside of school. Clearly, though there may be discrepancies between the opinions of freshmen on the intensity of high school athletics, these athletics have the capability to enrich the school life of anyone who participates in them.
Graphic: Michaela Tsapatsaris