Juggling sports and school

The true definition of success and determination

THIRD PLACE, News/Features

Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! The final whistle blows at an Academy of the Holy Names [AHN] junior varsity basketball game. The team is victorious yet again.

To those watching, the team is like magic, and the chemistry they have is just magnificent. What’s not apparent to the spectators is how much students struggle to balance athletics and academics.

In order to understand the real story of these girls, one has to dive head-first into the daily lives of one of these girls.

Samantha Paul, a ninth grader at Holy Names, isn’t only a great student, but she’s also a beast on the basketball court.

During the school week, Samantha wakes up at 7 a.m. and puts on her uniform, and is ready for a full day of school and sports. Classes end at 3 p.m. and basketball practice begins at 3:15 p.m., giving Sam just enough time to change and begin shooting around before practice begins.

Practice for the junior varsity ladies lasts an hour-and-a-half, and is filled to the brim with shooting, dribbling, passing, and running plays.

By the time the clock hits 4:45 p.m., everyone is beat from a long and hard day. After dinner and a shower, Samantha finally gets around to doing her homework.

On nights when there’s a lot of school work, Sam will not get to bed until 11 p.m. or midnight.

Now try doing this five days a week.

“You really have to balance your time,” Samantha Paul says. “You have to have time to do homework, and time to do chores and sports. You also have to have some ‘me’ time.” That’s just one example of the crazy lives of student athletes at AHN.

Kathy Witherspoon, a Holy Names assistant division head, says, “Participating in sports isn’t only good for mental and physical health, but it’s also proven to help relieve stress.”

On the flip side, could participating in sports also lead to stress in academics?

Junior Varsity basketball coach and high school health teacher Mr. Jeffrey Stopera says: “There are two types of stress: There’s good stress and there’s bad stress.”

“Good stress pushes one to do her best; bad stress can have the opposite effect on oneself,” Stopera says.

The stress that student athletes have to deal with on some occasions would seem crazy to some, but for these girls, this stress is normal.

Helen Spiro, a Holy Names counselor, agrees with Witherspoon. “Participating in sports can give students many valuable like skills,” she said. “For example, girls who play team sports are more likely to develop better teamwork skills than those who don’t. Also, playing a sport can help one practice coping skills in the aftermath of a big loss. One has to be able to cope with difficulties, struggles, and loss. Playing a sport can help one develop these skills.”

Witherspoon added: “Girls at Holy Names learn to manage their time; they learn to balance the rigorous curriculum and extracurricular activities. If you know that you have three longterm assignments due one week, but you also have practice until 9 p.m., three nights a week, you should know to get portions of your work done on those nights when you don’t have practice. Use free time wisely and effectively so you’re not awake until 1 a.m. in the morning finishing up the last of your work due the next day.”

Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! The final whistle blows at an Academy of the Holy Names junior varsity basketball game. These incredible student athletes are keeping up with a rigorous curriculum, while still performing on the basketball court. These girls are the true definition of success and determination, on and off the court.


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