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Youth sports programs give advantage to high school athletes

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Youth sports programs give advantage to high school athletes

Rachel Myers, Staff Writer

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For freshman Jamie Martinez, the last few weeks of summer before coming to the high school were spent doing intense strength and conditioning in preparation for the high school’s girls soccer team. Fortunately for Martinez, playing a multitude of sports since she was 5 years old was all she needed.

According to student athletes, although there are many differences between youth sports and high school sports, learning sports at a younger age is helpful in acclimating physically and socially to sports at the high school level.

Senior Maia Sutton has played lacrosse through a travel program since she was 7 years old and continues to play the sport at the high school. According to Sutton, high school sports are much more intense than youth sports.

“The competition level definitely amped up in high school,” Sutton said. “When I came to BHS, my lacrosse team would rarely ever win, so it was kind of a slap in the face to some girls. We’d be playing girls that are going to go to Division I for lacrosse, so youth sports have really prepared me for dealing with that and gaining that motivated mindset to work as hard as I can.”

Sophomore Sophia Levin, who has been playing tennis since 1st grade, says that the technique she learned in youth programs were essential in her success on the team.

“So much of tennis is technique, and if you don’t know all of the basics, you’ll have a hard time playing it here,” Levin said. “It’s difficult to get on the team, so people on the team are really good. I would not have been ready to play with really experienced people if I hadn’t learned the technique prior.”

Martinez said that youth sports were a great introduction to the teamwork student athletes have at the high school.

“You can just see from all the spirit the high school teams do that having a good relationship with your team is really important,” Martinez said. “Playing when you’re younger really helps people build bonds with kids who they don’t know well, which happens in every sport at BHS.”

According to Sutton, experimenting with different sports when she was younger has saved her from possible injuries.

“People have been saying recently that it’s important not to just play one sport, because it’s the same motions that your body is doing over and over again, so it can strain your muscles,”  Sutton said. “A lot of people get injuries that way. So I think it’s important to play a wide variety of sports at a young age, so you get a feel of everything and know which sports you’re most passionate about playing.”

Martinez also views the time before high school as the perfect opportunity to discover which sport an athlete truly wants to play.

“You’re testing your limits, finding out which sports give you a competitive mindset and you actually enjoy playing,” Martinez said. “You don’t want to waste time in high school by playing a sport you’re not into.”

According to Levin, one of the ways that high school sports differs from youth sports is in the coaching. Many coaches also happen to be teachers.

“I think them being teachers allows them to understand that you’re a student before an athlete and that academics come first,” Levin said. “So if someone is meeting with a teacher or finishing a test and they come late to practice, they don’t mind, because they’ve been the teacher in that situation.”

Martinez says that high school sports, although demanding, have their benefits.

“It’s true that playing sports at the high school is more difficult because of the intensity level and the fact that you have to balance schoolwork and other extracurriculars,” Martinez said. “But for me, that makes winning as a team or succeeding individually so much more rewarding.”

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Youth sports programs give advantage to high school athletes