Starting age for training varies by sport



The boys varsity crew team poses following the Mass Pubs regatta in Lowell, MA. According to junior Eric Jamous, many rowers start crew their freshmen year, which pushes the athletes to work even harder because they all start with the same skills.

Sidonie Brown , Staff Writer

Starting from as early as preschool, playing soccer is a staple of childhood. In later years, this can transform into heavy competition. By the time students reach the high school age, many have left the pool of soccer players behind to discover new athletic passions.

Sports that attract new participants, such as wrestling, field hockey and crew, provide opportunities for students to find competitive interests or excel in sports for the first time. However, starting a sport at an older age can also put a team on a lower playing level.

Sophomore Luke Albanese began wrestling in seventh grade, but he did not start to fully invest himself in the sport until high school.

“It’s definitely really intimidating the first time when you don’t know what you’re doing or when you’re going up against a kid who does know what he’s doing,” Albanese said.

Albanese explained that the high school wrestling environment is varied, from newcomers to kids who have been doing it for their entire lives.

“You can tell when you see someone who is experienced. It’s kind of an ‘awe moment.’ It’s like a form of art,” Albanese said.

Senior Helen Bechler, who started playing field hockey as a freshman, did not expect that one day she would be captain of the team.

“I was never super into athletics before high school, and I still wouldn’t see myself as a super athletic person,” Bechler said.

According to Albanese, students with no background in their sport may find it difficult to develop the necessary skills.

“Wrestling is one of those sports where you can’t be good without trying. You can’t be good without putting the work in,” Albanese said. “It’s difficult, and it’s very easy to get frustrated when you’re not getting better.”

Colleen Boyle, the coach of the varsity field hockey team, hopes to bring the sport to a more competitive level at the high school. Her new youth field hockey program aims to introduce children or students to the sport at a younger age, so that by the time they reach the high school, they have the skills necessary to play.

“The motivation {behind starting the program} was that kids starting in ninth grade in Brookline for field hockey is just not good enough,” Boyle said. “We’re getting killed by teams. Everyone else in our conference plays on turf. We play on turf hardly ever. We just don’t have as much skill as they do.”

Having played soccer and squash before, junior Eric Jamous decided to join the crew team as a freshman so that he could have a spring sport. He said that most are new to the sport.

“Everyone starts at the bottom for crew, so it’s like, ‘Who can achieve the most?’’’ Jamous said. “It’s not like someone has past experiences that are putting them ahead of other people.”

Bechler thanks field hockey for allowing her to reach the position she is in today. In a sport where most people have past experience, she might not have had the same opportunity. Still, she wishes that her sport was available to her at a younger age.

“One of the main issues on our team is that we play really individually during games instead of cooperating,” Bechler said. “I think that it is an issue that we’re still working on the skills when we could be working on forming a team more.”

Boyle said that she is hopeful and thankful for what this program has in store for field hockey.

“It’s been a really good experience to see the growth of the girls from day one until now. They’ve just learned so much and improved so much, and it’s really exciting for the future of field hockey as a whole,” Boyle said.

Jamous sees the disadvantages of starting late, but he takes everyone on his crew team beginning on the same level as a benefit.

“I think that is definitely a reason that we’re all so close,” Jamous said. “Because we all started together, we’ve all done the same journey.”