Fall blues

Liz Gremer, Co-Art Director

Full disclosure: this isn’t a column about why fall sports are the worst because they interfere with the athlete’s rest of the year. I believe that being involved in any sport, no matter the time of the year, is a great experience to have. Being on a team taught me not only about myself, but how to work with others. But, I do have one major complaint with the fall sports at LT: they dictate your involvement in other activities not only for the rest of the year, but for the rest of high school.

My freshman year, I tried out for the volleyball team after playing club for a few years. When I made the team, I was elated to be able to play at the high school level. While I was super excited to be on the team, I discovered at my first practice that I couldn’t be as involved with other clubs as I had wanted. When I went to co-curricular night my freshman year to sign up for different clubs, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to do everything I wanted to do because I had made a restricting commitment to volleyball. As I walked past the various tables that had sparked my interest, I put my email down, but knew that I couldn’t actually be involved  because all the first meetings were when I would be at practice or games. And while I did get to join some really great clubs, like Best Buddies and Student Council, that night, my younger self still felt disappointed in a way.

However, I didn’t have the time to make any fuss or try to talk to my coaches about getting involved with other activities because of how demanding my fall schedule was. As soon as the bell would ring at 3:05p.m, I would rush from the fieldhouse to the activity bus to get to practice on time. Once I arrived at North, I changed clothes and practiced with my team until 5:30p.m. This was almost every day, aside from game days where I would do the same thing except I would end around 7:30-8p.m. In addition to managing my time with games and practices, I also had to juggle my schoolwork and homework. Like many in-season athletes, by the end of the day, I felt drained and began to feel burned out with volleyball. However, I figured that all my dedication and time would pay off by the time I got to senior year and played on the varsity team.

I continued with this busy fall schedule for three years, continually showing up to practices and games with enthusiasm and keeping up my grades in the classroom. When it was finally time for all my hard work to pay off senior year, I went to the tryout and realized that it wasn’t the right choice for me to play another season. So, on my own terms, I stepped away from volleyball and opted out of playing my senior year. While it was a hard decision to make after giving three years to the program, I knew that it was the best choice for me. However, now that I have my first volleyball free fall, I’ve seen how much it limited the activities I got involved with.

Playing any sport is a major time commitment at LT is a major time commitment, but being involved in a fall sport in unlike a winter or spring sport. When you play a fall sport, your season begins weeks before school starts and your final weeks of summer are scheduled around practices and meetings. Then, once school begins, you not only have to quickly adjust to your academic schedule, but also your sport’s schedule. As your season begins to become competitive, LT’s clubs and organizations begin to meet and have their first meetings, setting the tone for the rest of the year.

By the time most seasons end, between October and November, it feels virtually impossible to join a club or activity since you’re showing up for the first time two months after the first meeting. Additionally, since sports at LT require total dedication, fall athletes aren’t given any opportunity to go to a club meeting after school instead of going straight to practice. When I was a freshman, I was told that if I missed three practices for any reason, aside from medical reasons, I would be kicked off the team. Being the scared, quiet freshman I was at volleyball, I never felt comfortable approaching my coaches about the subject, so I never did.

I understand why coaches don’t want their players missing practice. When you commit to being on a team, you should be responsible and follow through with those expectations. However, I think that there needs to be some type of policy or even an understanding between coaches and athletes, especially freshman year. At LT, students are encouraged to try new clubs and find out where they belong. But how can freshmen that play fall sports do this? Coaches should be flexible with athletes allow them the chance to try something besides their sport. Sure, sports are a huge part of high school, but if that’s the only thing you do in high school, then you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities. Especially at a school as big and diverse as LT, fall sport athletes shouldn’t be confined to their sport that they only have for three months, if not less, of the entire year.

One might say: “Wait, why don’t you just join something this year since you’re not playing a fall sport?” In simple terms, I believe that it is too late to get involved. As a senior in high school, I just don’t think it’s worth my time or energy. I don’t have the same passion towards potential activities than I had as a freshman. Maybe that’s a pessimistic way to look at things, but I just feel like if I joined a group as a senior I would feel out of place and not be taken seriously. At this point, I’m over the ”I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do in high school”. I can’t redo my experience; I’m simply writing this article to bring some awareness or possibly create some conversation between fall athletes and their coaches about being able to get involved with other activities during season.