Contributed by Lauren Cucinotta
Incoming freshmen join freshman teams for a number of reasons: fitness, love of a sport, or a desire to build their extracurriculars. But actually, the best thing about joining a freshman team might be the camaraderie they will experience with their teammates. Freshman teams offer students an excellent opportunity to bond with others as they navigate through the sometimes intimidating chaos of high school life.
The idea behind a freshman team is that everyone is more or less in the same boat. All students are new to the high school, and many are new to their sport.
The high school offers a range of freshman teams each season. In the fall, there are five freshman teams, including field hockey, football, girls and boys soccer, and girls volleyball. In winter, the high school offers girls and boys basketball and hockey teams. In spring, there are freshman baseball and softball teams. The high school may offer freshmen teams for other sports, such as lacrosse, depending on interest.
Freshman field hockey player Willa Kitterman decided to try field hockey because after playing soccer for many years, she wanted a fresh start.
“I wanted to choose a sport where everybody would be starting out,” Kitterman said.
Freshman Alejandra Mineo, who is, also, on the field hockey team, agrees that starting on the same page as everyone else makes for a cohesive team.
“Especially for field hockey, it is really good to start at the same level as everyone else, learn at the same pace as everyone and build friendships,” Mineo said.
Freshman teams are great for building class solidarity. Even though freshman football captain Camryn Lezama had been playing the sport since age four and knew a lot of other football players, he only knew one or two people on the team before tryouts. He notes that freshmen teams are different from a junior varsity or varsity team experience because freshman athletes meet their teammates in their own academic classes as well.
“In the freshman team we are able to see each other in classes,” Lezama said. “Usually the upperclassmen aren’t really in our classes so we really only see them in the halls and at practice.”
According to Lezama, the advantages of joining a sport extend beyond the field; it’s reassuring to see familiar faces at the school.
“Even outside of football, we just help each other out, like with work,” Lezama said.
Freshman soccer player Lachlan Harris also sees the social value of participating on a freshman team.
“We hang out all the time,” Harris said. “We watch soccer games together just like a big family.”
Most team members know only a few, if any, of their fellow teammates upon joining.
“I didn’t know a couple of the kids on the team, but eventually with all the team bonding we did, that made us really close,” Harris said. “Instantly I made lots of friends and I sit with them at lunch and I see them in the halls. It really helped.”
While the advantages of joining a freshman team are clear, that does not mean that membership is easy. It still requires showing up for long hours of practice, coming home tired, and staying committed to the sport.
“During practice everyone knows that it’s fun,” Harris said. “But we also put in work.”
According to Kitterman, freshmen teams create a community that help students learn more about a specific sport.
“I like having a community of a bunch of freshmen that you know and that it’s more relaxed and a good way to ease into high school sports,” Kitterman said. “It’s pretty different than other sports where there are higher expectations so it makes that transition easier.”