Student Athlete Balancing Act

With the new school year in gear, the fall sports seasons are not far behind. The fall is a very exciting time of the year where Cape Henry is represented by numerous talented sports teams. While athletes are performing very successfully on the field, they are also displaying just as much success in the classroom. “Due dates are closer than they appear,” Jacob Konikoff suggests. As a captain and leader of the Varsity Boys Soccer team, Jacob certainly is affected by the work load with academics along with the responsibility that comes with being a part of his team. His specific advice for managing all of his responsibility is to “try and stay organized,” even when difficult at times.

There are numerous individuals working each day in the classroom (and on the field and court) to better themselves as both an athlete and as a student. Student-Athlete Sydney Dudley shared how she feels about being a member of the Varsity field hockey team. As a junior this year, Sydney is experienced and has had the chance to be a part of the field hockey team for the past 3 years. Expressing how this year in particular was different from her previous years, Dudley shared, “This year all of us are super close and all work very well with one another. We work hard every day that we are on the field. We work harder for each other.” She continues on explaining how this season, the entire team “has the same goals and will do whatever it takes to achieve them.”

Junior Matt Johnson, also a captain and crucial player for the boys Varsity soccer team expressed his opinions on what it is like managing the long hours of practices with the long hours of school work he must keep up with. While both soccer and academics are two things that he works hard to juggle all at once, Johnson finds a way each night to make it all happen. “Managing the amount of school work that I have and managing my health is the hardest part.” The average day of training for Matt is 2 hours of Cape Henry soccer followed by 2-3 hours of training for his club team that he plays for. “Playing so much every single day, my body need tons of rest, so when I don’t get home until 9:30-10:00 pm each night, it is sometimes hard to complete my homework. I need to sleep to be healthy.” Matt has many years of experience on a team as competitive as the Cape Henry’s boys soccer team is and being such an influential part of his team, he finds a way to balance everything so that his grades, his team, and his health are where they need to be.

Each student-athlete is encouraged to develop his or her own studying strategies that work best for them individually. Encouragement overflows from the staff all throughout Cape Henry, and it is certainly evident that many student-athletes benefit from that.

After asking Coach Kristen Wheeler, 14 year veteran field hockey coach, how she would differentiate Cape Henry’s athletics from other athletic programs in South Hampton roads, she replied with, “I’m amazed at how our student body is able to excel in so many different areas with such small enrollment. If you were to compare us to a public school and their population, our population is significantly less than half.”

With Cape Henry’s enrollment being less than public schools, one may underestimate the ability to, with low numbered teams, pull out victories. Wheeler added, “Across the board, Cape Henry athletics will be competitive no matter the year or the sport.” For her Varsity field hockey team alone, the girls have “started their season off on a positive note with good team chemistry and are displaying improvement each day, every week.” Surely other coaches would agree with the opinion given by Coach Wheeler as she stated, “We use scrimmages to uncover our flaws and base what we need to work on off of that.” That is what makes Cape Henry athletics hard to beat. The ability that each team has to, as Wheeler stated, “uncover flaws.” Once worked upon and critiqued carefully, the flaws become entirely uncovered and the teams become stronger than they were the game before.

For student-athletes at Cape Henry, it is all about how each individual goes about managing it. For the academic portion, they must find a way that is efficient for them to manage each assignment and deadline. With just as much importance, it is imperative that each student plans ahead with teachers and understands the responsibility that comes with missing class for a game. The deadlines that each student is expected to meet, they must meet on time and to their greatest ability. Regardless of how their athletics play into their time for academics, each student athlete is reminded of how they are a student before they are an athlete, hence “student-athlete.”

On the athletic side of each student-thlete, it is just as important for them to be able to maintain the responsibility, energy and commitment that it takes to be a part of the team. Every young athlete and student that can relate to this and can certainly express how difficult and potentially draining it can be as they try to balance their commitment on the field and in the classroom. For these individuals, it is endless responsibility, effort, emotion, and communication every single day from the minute they wake up.

Even with all of the piled on tasks and deadlines, student- athletes like Konikoff, Johnson, and Dudley manage it all a little bit differently, but do everything that it takes each day to better themselves and everyone else around them in the classroom and on the fields.