FEATURE: Student Athletes Fall Behind

Student athletes balance school work and sports schedules
Freshman Anniston Clark goes for a layup during the home varsity girls basketball game vs Olathe North on January 10.
Freshman Anniston Clark goes for a layup during the home varsity girls basketball game vs Olathe North on January 10.
Chloe Cook

As spring sports begin, student athletes juggle school work while missing classes for their sports. Athletes play up to 19 games per season, half being away games, meaning students are having to miss classes to travel to the games.

Senior Elaina Zung fights for the ball against an opposing player from Shawnee Mission West on April 14, 2023.
(Mallory Thompson)

For some students, it can be difficult to miss days of school for sports while maintaining grades and keeping up with due dates.

“I used to have to do homework on the drive to Kansas City every practice,” sophomore and two year Varsity volleyball player Ella Roberts said.

Not only did Roberts play on Free State’s volleyball team, but also on the MAVS club team for two years. Competitive athletes participate in school and club teams, and play multiple sports. Training can be around eight to 20 hours a week, leaving little time to manage tests and schoolwork that determine students’ academic future.

“Most of them are successful if they have someone holding them accountable,” Academic Interventionist Tina Bethman said.

Student athletes get home late, have to do their homework, then wake up the next morning and do it all again. Bethman said being on a team can be a motivator for students to keep their grades up, but also said multi-sport athletes need extra help and someone checking in on them often so they can have the support to be successful.

There are many resources for student athletes struggling to find motivation or struggling to keep up with work like after-school tutoring or meeting up with teachers during Extended Class Time.

“A lot of coaches are teachers and they understand, but there are teachers who just don’t give credit to athletes,” Roberts said.

Busy schedules and stress can cause mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Roberts said there should be more mental health awareness and support for student athletes. Multi-sport athlete freshman Anniston Clark said she often struggles to find the motivation to complete school work after getting home late.

Clark said “coach flexibility” would help athletes not feel as overwhelmed and stressed about balancing school and sports.

Although many athletes’ schedules are busy, there are ways to get ahead and make work up early. Senior multi-sport athlete Elaina Zung said keeping up with work and not procrastinating is key to being successful in sports and schools. Zung also emails teachers before missing class, along with getting any work she has done during school.

“I think a big thing that helps is getting it done during class so that you know you don’t have to do anything else like after,” Zung said.

 

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