Practice is over, and athletes mill around, socializing as they leave the field and bonding as members of a common group. For freshmen and all athletes, this becomes a daily routine. Although the season will end, their newfound friendships and study habits may last for years to come.
Although some of the high school’s newcomers have trouble adjusting to a packed schedule, sports teams are a valuable asset for freshmen, according to these athletes.
According to English teacher and freshman football coach Nick Rothstein, as freshmen transition into the high school, it is important for them to be able to interact with many different types of people in various settings. Rothstein said participating in sports helps them accomplish that.
“It’s a gateway into all other communities,” Rothstein said. “They’re learning how to work with others. They’re learning how to deal with adults.”
According to freshman soccer player Brian Bechler, sports teams are a valuable part of the social transition to high school.
“When you join a new school, you aren’t really a part of anything,” Bechler said. “If you start on a team, you’re already a part of a group, and that helps you make new friends and make new connections.”
Freshman Abraham Spurlock, who ran on the cross country team, agreed that sports are a great way to get involved in the high school socially. Spurlock said he believes that the benefits of participating in a sport can extend into the academic sphere as well.
“Any sport after school is a great way to take your mind off of academic stress,” Spurlock said.
For Bechler, sports teams, despite sometimes causing a shortage of time for schoolwork, help students learn to do their studying more efficiently.
“I feel like I do have less time for homework after school, but that drives me to be more focused and that gets my work done with a better quality,” Bechler said.
African American and Latino Scholars Program Director and freshman football coach Christopher Vick said that participation in sports as a freshman can both positively and negatively affect academic performance.
“Some kids do better when there’s more structure to their schedule,” Vick said. “Some kids don’t do as well because the important thing to keep in mind is that they just don’t have as much time to do stuff.”
Rothstein said he believes that freshman athletes also learn to discipline themselves, which is reflected in their academic performance. This discipline is essential to participation in a sport.
“They don’t just learn physical discipline. They learn academic discipline,” Rothstein said. “If they don’t keep up their grades and academics in school, they aren’t going to be able to play their sports and do the activities they want to do.”
According to the freshman athletes, they are happy with their decision to participate in high school sports and recommend it as a way to ease the transition to a new school.
“It makes the transition a lot better,” Spurlock said. “The coaches might seem a little harsh at times, but it’s for the best.”