Hitting the right note: athletes who are also artists



At third base, senior Leander Goessling prepares for the pitch during a game against Sharon High School at Parsons Field. Goessling balances playing baseball and the cello.

A common theme in widely consumed media is the divisional dynamics present in high school communities. Those practices can often transcend television screens and social media platforms and manifest themselves into real life. Students are frequently relegated to different groups: the athletes and the artists. However, many students at the high school switch between the two groups and allow for their separate identities to flourish.

Senior Annabelle Gardner does not see the two identities competing for sole control but rather sees the complementary effect that they have for her. She dedicates time to her athletics through varsity lacrosse and hockey, while making sure to allow her artistic side a chance to shine in Note-a-fy, an a capella group.

“There’s a balance between my love of sports and performing that has remained rather equal throughout the course of my life,” Gardner said. “It was never a question of one or the other. I’ve spent my whole life learning how to balance those two interests.”

Having played the cello since the age of four, senior Leander Goessling grew up as a musician and later began to play baseball in 5th grade. With both of these hobbies as an integral part of his life, he believes that he would not be able to prosper in one if the other did not exist. In the same way that Goessling said he believes there is a competitive nature to participating in orchestra, there is a musical sense to the game of baseball.

“If you’re strong, you can be good at baseball. But, at the same time, everyone can be strong. Instead, it really becomes all about the small moments,” Goessling said. “As a pitcher, how you hold the ball, spin the ball, put your foot down, push off, it’s all really small. There’s a rhythm to those movements that you must tune into.”

Gardner said she has also seen the benefits of being involved in both arts and sports. She said that the team building component of sports has enhanced her ability to collaborate with different individuals in a productive way.

“The team element has helped me when it comes to a capella because an a capella group is essentially a team. You must work off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses as you would on a sports team,” Gardner said. “Having played on so many sports teams when I was younger, [it] taught me how to be a positive participant in a team dynamic. This meant that the transition to a capella was not something I had to relearn but something that was already ingrained in me.”

Junior John Watson has spent his high school career alternating between the cross country course at Larz Anderson Park and the Robert Dubbs Auditorium. Watson said he sees how the aspect of performance manifests itself into both the arts and sports.

“Both have a big payoff, with the races in cross country and shows in drama. Though, they are different in the sense that in running, you get to perform more often. You get to have mistakes and then keep growing from them and you have the race next week to improve. In drama you have your one performance, and that one show is what leaves a lasting impact,” Watson said.

Throughout Watson’s time involved with the two disciplines, he said he has appreciated how he always has the other one to turn to when seeking solace.

“The times that I have done a production for the high school have been when I am not feeling my best in running,” Watson said. “When I feel like I am not improving in speed, or when my anxiety gets worse or I’m not having a great experience in my sport, I say ‘Oh, maybe it’s time I turn to something else.’”

Although both identities can be defining roles in a student’s life, individuals do not always feel compelled to retreat to one particular group. Goessling said in his life sports and music are rather intertwined.

“I get upset by the stereotypical connotations that arrive with both of my interests. I’m not a dumb jock, but I do love sports. I’m not only consumed with music, but I do love the cello. Neither one holds top billing and I don’t feel like one has to dominate, either,” Goessling said. “I can be an athlete and a musician because I am a person and student, first.”