Freshmen athletes on adjusting to high school level

Lila Chesser

The year in which students transition from middle school to high school is often a pivotal point in their lives. Multitasking increases as students adopt new extracurricular activities and the rigor of the classwork increases. But being a student-athlete can make this transition even more difficult. 

The intensity of school sports significantly increases, both in terms of dedication of time and degree of competitiveness. This can be hard for underclassmen to adjust to.

One factor that contributes to this increased intensity is the age gap between the youngest and oldest players on high school teams. 

Josey Kanach, a freshman on the girl’s varsity soccer team, said that in order to be a match for the physicality that she faces when playing against juniors and seniors, she has had to adjust many of her typical tactics. 

Aside from challenges that come with playing against older girls, Wilson freshman and volleyball player Dani Wallace believes that even playing with older girls is a big adjustment. Kanach agrees. “To know that some of my teammates are nearly four years older than me is something I’m still processing,” she said.

Playing alongside upperclassmen—some of whom are even already committed to playing their sport in college—requires underclassmen to play at a higher level. 

This new level of competitiveness is reflected in both games and practices. High school players must be focused and driven with one goal in mind: to win. 

Freshman Sebastian Dominguez, who plays on the football team, said, “Practices are intense. We have study hall, weight room, then are out on the field until 8:30 p.m.” 

As for the games, Wallace agreed that the intent is always to win. “My middle school coach wanted our competition to be fair and even made one of my teammates miss a serve so [the opponent] could have a chance,” she recalled. By contrast, at Wilson, “Coach Perette wants us to dominate!”

Kanach has noticed that her high school coaches encourage her and her teammates to speak up and provide input to improve the team which didn’t happen in middle school. “The coaches are not close-minded and listen to our feedback,” Kanach said. 

A rower on Wilson’s crew team, sophomore Karl Braunoehler, said that his coach’s strategy seems to hone in on individual player development. When thinking back to his middle school coaches, Braunoehler said “the coaches are completely different in attitude. My high school coach really wants you to get better.” 

Despite new challenges brought on by high school sports, freshmen and sophomores seem to be adjusting quickly to high school sports. Kanach said she loves playing on the soccer team and is up for the additional challenges that come with high school sports. “I think it makes people better [players],” Kanach said. •