The Price to Play

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Pateel Koshkerian

Across all sports hours of dedication is needed from athletes to be their best.

Anush Melikyan, Business Manager

Constant soreness. Feeling overwhelmed. Extreme fatigue. Overuse injuries. 

Junior Hovany Nazaretian wakes up each day at 5:30 a.m. and drinks plenty of water before heading out the door. The sun has yet to rise.

As he arrives at the gate to the Glendale H.S at 5:45, he looks at his phone and realizes how early it is and how long of a day he has ahead of him. In any case, he knows that he needs to give practice his all today as the Nitros season is beginning soon.

“Morning practice definitely isn’t easy or fun . It can get super hard to go to practice, come back and get ready for school,” Nazaretian said. “But I love the sport, and even though it is a big commitment knowing that I’m showing up to practice with my teammates motivates me to keep showing up.”

Playing a sport in high school while balancing school work and social life is more challenging than perceived.

Student-athletes are asked to dedicate most days out of their week and free time to their sport, not even counting the time they put in during the off-season.

Athletes are not only expected to excel in their sport but academically as well to maintain their position on their team. The goal to meet these expectations adds an increased amount of stress on student-athletes. This can be further complicated because of the presence of various injuries and medical problems that come with being a student-athlete.

 The sheer amount of time spent on practices and conditioning alone is long enough and especially on days where there are games an athlete’s day can be much longer. “It is definitely challenging since practices range from two to four hours every day and then on game days it comes close to five to six hours a day so good time management skills are a must,” said Mikayel Hovasyan, a senior on the GHS varsity water polo team. “Over time you learn to manage your time but it can still be very stressful being a student-athlete.”

For freshman athletes, having to figure out high school and manage a sport can be a difficult transition.“As an athlete, time management is the most important skill for me. It can be so overwhelming to be able to manage time for family, time for homework” GHS Varsity Girls Basketball member freshman Aleek Khanamerian said. “I make sure to set my priorities so when I get back from practice school the first thing I focus on is school then other priorities.”

Athletics is a way to help prepare students for life. Passion around a chosen sport, connection to coaches and teammates, striving for personal goals, and meeting high expectations are factors that play into being a triumphant athlete or a stumble in the road, which too often can cause anxiety and depression in athletes. In a study conducted by Ohio University, 5% to 10% of active athletes experience tremendous stress, and 20% percent experience anxiety before games. This tremendous amount of stress can come from the high expectations that coaches and parents may have and the desire athletes have to please coaches and parents. 

Sophomore Samantha Talbot is part of Crescenta Valley’s Cross country and track team. Talbot too often feels the pressure of having to balance a full day of school and hours of practice. “Some days I feel so stressed because practice, especially for two sports, takes up a lot of my day, Talbot said. “I also find that before big games or competitions anxiety builds up and I can’t properly focus on schoolwork when negative thoughts about my performance build up.” Talbot sometimes feels that her performance needs to be perfect just because she has been participating in the sport since before elementary school. 

Sella Koshkerian plays basketball on GHS’s varsity team and she finds that a major cause of stress for her idea is that there is no room for mistakes. “I try not to focus on negative thoughts like not performing well because managing my time between school, sports, family, and friends is stressful enough and negative thoughts add unnecessary stress,” Koshkerian said. “I do my best to remain calm and if I ever do need help my coach and teammates are always there to help.