by J1 Reporter Rilee Silvain
Most people who play a sport do it to have fun with others who share the same interest, but it doesn’t always end with just fun and games. As children evolve in the sport they most dearly love, they can begin to play at a higher level. When at this higher level, the “fun” sport they used to play can transforms into something entirely different.
Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and senses become sharper. These are effects that happen when a child constantly extends their maximum ability and these will continue to cause more problems if not dealt with correctly. “I practice every day of the week not including games or the extra lifting my team is required to do. I get home at about 9 every night and have to start on my school work right away in order to get some sleep,” Abby Elkins, ‘20, a JV cross country runner at Marian says.
Not only are student athletes committed to practice and perform every day of the week by their coaches and parents. They are also committed to do the same in school. “ I want my child to be the best they can be and I will continue to push that aspect until their highest potential is reached,” Bill Johnson, a father of three student athletes, said.
Ashlee Czyz, a sophomore at Marian and an Elite soccer player says, “I have had many meltdowns while trying to balance my school work and soccer practices at the same time.” Czyz has been playing Elite soccer for seven years.
These two student athletes never get a break to rest their bodies. They are told by a non-stopping pressure to keep going. It is like a automatic toy race car running into the wall. The car will just keep running into the wall until it breaks or something shuts it off. That is the same with this pressure. It will just keep pushing these athletes until they break or something makes them quit.
“Better, come on, pick it up, not good enough.” These are the things varsity volleyball player at Millard South, Sam Steele, hears over and over again as she plays. Those simple words are the never ending pressure that is causing her to play with the fright of messing up. Student athletes are expected to put on a performance that will impress everyone. Everyone but themselves.
These expectations to put on a perfect performance can lead someone to overwork themselves. Imagine a teenage girl, playing for the state championship. Hearing her coach constantly screaming, seeing college coaches watching close to the side line, feeling the pain of her recently rolled ankle, and tasting the sweat dripping from her forehead. And all of a sudden she is on the ground, writhing in pain. All she can see is the sight of coaches and athletic trainer surrounding her, and the blurry image of her mom tearing up in the bleachers. This athlete overworked her muscles and her body couldn’t keep up. Now she lives in the constant fear of it all happening again.
Student athletes are given such high expectations when trying to balance sports and school. They encounter a high amount of stress, no rest, many mental meltdowns, and an extreme amount of pressure all the time. “ I believe that coaches pressure their athletes to such potential because they know that giving 100 percent every day they play will be the only way they will get better,” Johnson said. And although student athletes are pressured everyday to reach their full potential, they still all do it. This is because they can’t imagine a life without it. With watery eyes and a smile on her face, Steele said, “ I continue it because I love it.”