Approximately 495,671 Georgia high school students played a school sport in last school year (2015-2016), according to a participation survey conducted by the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). This association oversees school athletics and activities for the 455 high schools in the state of Georgia. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations during the 2013-2014 year, high school sports participation reached its all time high with 7.8 million students. I am a person who has played a part in the the GHSA. I currently play basketball and am the manager of my school’s softball team.
Being the manager for softball requires that I go to each practice and game. We have practice four days a week, and games usually two to three times a week. I love managing for softball, but maintaining my grades has become hard. Practice goes from 3:45 to 5:30 p.m., but I usually leave around 5:00 due to my sister being my ride and her cheer practice ends at that time.
When softball season started in August, I hardly got sleep due to games ending late and then having to go home, shower, eat and do homework. I slowly began to slack on my school work because I was tired and lazy. When I did focus on my work, I barely ate because I didn’t have an appetite due to being so stressed out about my grades and softball.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenagers get less than eight hours of sleep on an average school night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends teens get about eight to 10 hours of sleep to be able to function best. I get about six to seven hours of sleep at night. Sleeping means I get a break from reality, and my body gets to rest after a stressful day or week. But managing sleep is very hard when you have to manage so many other things.
When I asked my friend Kazin Glenn, a 14-year old sophomore who plays football for Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School, how much sleep he gets. His response was: “Four to five and a half hours of sleep, based on how much homework is given each day. I am tired on a daily basis, but I have to get through it because I chose the life of a student athlete. Although my grades are average, they are not where they were before. Not forgetting that I had a concussion in the beginning of the season but was able to bounce back.”
Some people would say just quit your sport or managing position, but I love my team and want to help them on and off the field as much as I can.
I also asked Kazin why he sticks with the sport. “When I do something, I am determined,” he said. “I have already given so much into this sport, and I will continue to do my part because I can’t give up on those who need me.” These experiences could also open up other opportunities later on in life.
When I was younger, I was always told to use my time wisely, but it never occurred to me how important that was until my sophomore year. Last year I was a freshman and my classes were not that bad, but this year all of my classes are harder and more important. I sort of learned this the hard way because I saw two of my grades drop to below an 80. I know that a C is passing, but for me it is not, so I knew I had to do something about my grades. One of the girls on the team could not continue to play because her grades dropped so low.
Tips for getting it all done
When riding to away games I do work that doesn’t require WiFi to minimize the workload when I get home. Also, I tend to do homework and go to the library to study or catch up on work during the 45 minutes I have for lunch. These are some ways that make it a little bit easier to maintain athletics and academics.
I wanted to see if any other student athletes had any advice to give on managing sports, academics and sleep. Softball player Rachel Bryant plays on the team I manage and had the following advice: “Remember you are a student before an athlete, hints the term ‘student athlete.’ Work hard in both school and the sport you love, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Coaches and teammates would rather you ask for help than wonder why you aren’t playing.”
I agree that all of what she said is true. Remember to do your best not just for others but because you want to.
Personally, I am still working on getting my grades back up to where I want them to be, but they are not going to change overnight. I am going to continue doing my very best while still getting an acceptable amount of sleep at night. I do hope that sharing my friend’s story and advice help others when it comes to balancing out all the responsibilities in life.
Photos and collages (created using Layout App) also by Jade Evertsz.
Jade is a sophomore at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School who enjoys sports and really cares about the community.