Student Athletes Carefully Balance School and Life

FHS offers a total of 22 sports students can play, from football and soccer to volleyball and golf. While extremely rewarding to play, these can be a large commitment, and balancing the needs of academics, your team, and the rest of your life can be stressful for student athletes.

Academic standards for student athletes to be eligible to participate in sports are set by the Virginia High School League (VHSL), rather than by FHS. Activities Director Mark Ott explained, “…for us in block scheduling, you have to pass 3 of 4 of your [classes] of your previous semester. Different teams and coaches in our school system have different rules that they make their students adhere to; some of them do grade checks weekly or biweekly to make sure they’re up to standard.”

Ott believes students don’t particularly struggle with the balance between academics and sports, saying, “I feel that the kids that are athletes and are involved in extracurricular activities, no matter what it is, they develop better time management skills than most regular students do.”

Field hockey player Lindsey Cree said she doesn’t struggle with the balance, saying, “Usually, if we need a break, we can have it, so it’s not bad.” Cree also said, “…our coaches, they’re very supportive,” when asked if support was in place for struggling athletes.

Some student athletes disagree, however. Senior Kingsley Menifee said, “I think the biggest struggle is time management. We’ll have practice from three to five after school, and then after that, I don’t get home until [about] six, and normally I have something planned, so I just don’t have enough time to get all of my stuff done.”

Junior Sam Boulter agrees, saying, “Sometimes I’ll have a lot of homework; last year I had a big project due for Mr. Keith, and then I had lacrosse practice, and it was due by the time practice was over, so I just didn’t do the assignment.” Senior Nora Waide said, “…this year during cross country…we practiced every day for two hours, so when I got home I was just so exhausted that it would take me a long time to get the motivation to do any work. At that point, I’d be going into the night to do my work.”

Waide also questioned the support given to struggling athletes, saying, “I feel like for school-wide resources, there hasn’t been that many offers. I think it really depends on the teacher you have.”

Despite some struggles, FHS’s student athletes try to remain committed to their team while not sacrificing academics. Waide said, “A lot of student athletes go through it,” and, “It’s definitely something you have to learn by yourself, because for everyone time management looks different.” Ott said, “Academics is why they’re here, athletics and activities, and everything else, extracurriculars, is extra. It’s not a requirement, so obviously, all the grades come first.” Boulter agrees, saying, “ …It’s always students first, not athletes first.”