Who do you look up to? For some high school athletes, professional athletes can help them learn different skills, whether it is as simple as footwork or as great as winning a game.
These athletes said they often look up to professionals and see them as representative of what hard work can achieve.
Sophomore volleyball player Kyle McAuley said that he feels that he can relate to some professional athletes, such as olympians Matt Anderson and Erik Shoji.
“I look up to athletes who grew up in a similar way I did,” McAuley said. “So many athletes who are on one team now can come from so many different backgrounds, and I feel that way with the teams I play on. So, I really try to play to that level and make something of myself in different ways.”
Junior swimmer Courtney Carroll said she is motivated by athletes such as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“He wasn’t even the starting quarterback from Michigan and he still is one of the ‘best’ quarterbacks in the world or league,” Carroll said. “[I admire] his will to start off from where I am and really power through.”
According to sophomore Olivia Brown, she and her volleyball team learn techniques by observing professional athletes.
“My coach loves having us watch videos of professional volleyball players executing a play or a skill that we should be practicing a lot,” Brown said. “I feel like seeing professional athletes actually doing it inspires me to do it myself.”
According to Brown, professional athletes not only demonstrate athletic skills, but also good personalities.
“Professional athletes know how to act, at least most of them do. I feel like if you can emulate them through how you play your sports and how you act while playing sports, I feel like that is a great quality to have,” Brown says.
Injuries are common for both high school and professional athletes alike. Winston De-Leon, a sophomore football and basketball player, said he understands this and looks up to the professionals who manage to overcome and work with injuries.
“I only look up to one particular athlete and that’s Antonio Brown. The reason why is because he is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL, and he has the most receiving yards so far in the season even though two of his quarterbacks have gotten injured and taken out,” De-Leon said.
Sophomore football player Liam Downey is currently injured. Downey said he has heard about professional athletes’ recoveries and thinks that they can bring reassuring thoughts for a hopeful future.
“Things happen, and in the long run, it will work out,” Downey said. “There are plenty of guys that are bouncing back from injuries that are worse than mine. So, it kind of gives some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. Like you’ll be there in due time, just keep working and, eventually, you’ll get back there.”
According to senior soccer player Jana Douglass, her motivation to try harder is based on watching female athletes defeating stereotypes and performing as well as male athletes. One athlete she said she looks up to is U.S. Women’s National Soccer player Mia Hamm.
“I admire her for making a name for herself even as a woman in sports, because women’s sports are considered much less prominent than men’s sports,” Douglass said.
Sophomore soccer player Lena Harris said she respects how these powerful women change how females are viewed in sports.
“I use, for example, female athletes trying to show that they are just as good as male athletes as motivation to try harder and push myself to show that female athletes can be just as good as men,” Harris said.
Freshman field hockey player Caroline Kaplan said role models do not necessarily have to be professionals. Kaplan said she is motivated by upperclassmen teammates and captains.
“At tryouts, they came over to us, introduced themselves and then asked us if we wanted to play with them, and ended up teaching us a lot,” Kaplan said. “It was really nice, and just shows you what a good athlete is, and shows you a good person to inspire you.