When people refer to those who play sports for a school, they often use the term “student-athletes.” It should be noted that the word “student” comes before the word “athlete.” Similarly, some student-athletes arrange their priorities in this way as well. Finding the balance of school and sports is often a tough task to tackle.
When outsiders think of athletes, they tend to focus on what they see on the field. But people tend to forget that behind the scenes, athletes are working extensively to keep their grades up. All athletes must pass 75 percent of their classes in order to meet the KHSAA guidelines to participate in high school athletics. Those who plan to play collegiate sports must meet additional guidelines.
Fall sports have one disadvantage in that school starts in the middle of the preseason practice time. Fall sport athletes must make a change and adapt quickly in order to manage their school workload and sports schedule. However, sports that begin after the fall allow student athletes to get into a routine before gradually starting practices and games.
One of the biggest struggles with handling both school and sports is time. While the typical high school student may get about six hours of free time after school, an athlete gets about half as much of that time. For example, Andy Llarena, a member of the Trigg County soccer team, says he usually has about two hours of homework after practice ends at 9:30 p.m. Andy says, “During the season, you really have to plan your night out. You have to know that as soon as you get home, you have to eat and then get right in and started on homework.”
A typical high school student has a very challenging curriculum at TCHS. This includes a variety of work such as writing papers, studying for tests and doing homework assignments. Trying to complete assignments in such a short time can alter sleeping habits. Llarena says he doesn’t get to bed until 11:30 on a typical school night. For a high school student, this can wear you down mentally and physically.
In addition to a challenging high school curriculum, TCHS allows qualified students to earn college credits as well. Take senior football lineman Dallas McCloud for example. Dallas took three college level classes during last season. He said, “If you get behind, it is always hard to catch back up with practices and games each and every week.”
Keeping up grades can sometimes mean working on schoolwork on the bus ride to away games or even in the locker room. It may mean coming to practice late in order to get help from a teacher. It may even mean staying up late or waking up early to get the work done.
Time is not the only issue. Having to remember so much information from the classroom and the field can sometimes be overwhelming. When you’ve been studying in a classroom for seven hours straight, it can be a challenge to spend another three learning about the game plan for Friday night. Remembering calculus, history and science is hard enough, let alone remembering scouting reports and playbooks, too.
When players choose to participate in an extra curricular sport, they must realize that the “extra” part of it can be stressful. With that said, the time management skills learned from those who take on this responsibility is worth it. When sports occupy so much time, student athletes must find a will and a way to work twice as hard in the classroom. While it is tough to do, every athlete must find a way to put “student” before “athlete.”
Comments on Mason Shelton’s “From The Sidelines” column may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.