“My love for volleyball has been ruined because of the continuous pressure from my full commitment to both volleyball and school,”said sophomore Madeline McHugo, a member of the girls JV volleyball team.
This sentiment is common among student-athletes, a result of the enormous strain they face, torn between succeeding in their academics, maintaining good relationships with friends and family, and of course, excelling in their chosen sport. But, for many, their love for their sport outweighs this pressure, and they find ways to manage. For instance, keeping open relationships and fully communicating with teachers and coaches alleviates this difficulty.
Balancing all aspects of one’s life can feel impossible, forcing individuals to make various sacrifices in order to continue with their athletics. Sophomore Varsity swimmer Hailey Preuss explained this phenomenon by sharing advice she was given at a college recruiting conference.
“You have three boxes,” Preuss said. “Social, academic, and sports. You get to choose two boxes.” Preuss shared that she often has to miss social events—such as hanging out with friends and attending football games and dances—because of swim practice.
Junior Yandel Hernadez, a Varsity soccer player, said, “I haven’t gone to any football games because I have practice everyday. I really want to, but I just can’t.”
McHugo explained that, as a result of long hours of volleyball, she is often unable to complete her homework or study sufficiently for her tests. She said, “I will be at a game until 9 p.m., and it’s really hard because I don’t have time to finish my homework, and then I’m up until all hours of the night. When I was a freshman, it was chill, but now that I’m on JV and in sophomore year, school is harder and there is more stress for volleyball.”
These burdens take a serious toll on individuals, both in their academic and athletic performance as well as their mental health, often leading to complete exhaustion or even burn-out.
Preuss said, “I feel like I have to be on top of everything constantly, and that’s really, really exhausting.” The reaction teachers and coaches have to student burn-out can be crucial to keeping students on track through providing support or detrimental in knocking them off course.
Hernadez said, “Because I am one of the decent players on the team, my coach expects me to be there for every practice, so I can’t really skip if I have a lot of homework, or if there is a social event.”
Positive, open relationships between coaches/teachers and student-athletes in which students are able to fully communicate their situation and struggles are crucial to successfully balancing one’s busy schedule. Allowing teachers and coaches to have an understanding of one’s situation will enable them to sympathize and offer support, which can make all the difference.