Athletics for all: Freshmen deserve a shot at the goal

During my freshman year at Redwood, I anxiously walked onto the soccer field, feeling scared and unsure if I would make the junior varsity (JV) team. Unfortunately, there was not a freshman soccer team, but I convinced myself to try out for JV anyways. I showed up, ran my hardest for two hours and, eventually, the coach called me in. My heart dropped as I realized I had just been cut. I was disappointed not to be a part of the team. 

Due to this experience, I believe it is necessary for Redwood to have freshman teams in all sports with the goal of creating a community as well as new friendships. 

Illustration by Julia Delsol

According to wellness specialists at Good Therapy, participating in high school sports improves students’ mental health. When playing on a team, there is a group of people to talk to and connect with, while playing sports allows students to relieve their stress and anxiety. According to the New York University Dispatch, “There are many benefits of high school sports, including academic improvement, meeting new people and responsibility. … Playing a team sport can help greatly with your ability to problem-solve and manage multiple tasks at the same time.” 

Freshman Lucy Miller reflected back on her experience being a part of the JV field hockey and lacrosse team.

“At the beginning of freshman year I decided to try-out for field hockey. Little did I know that was one of the best decisions I [could] have made. It was a great experience meeting so many new people. The upper classmen were incredible role models, and taught me so much about the game and high school,” Miller said. 

Miller is an example of how participating in a team sport is clearly beneficial for all students, especially freshmen. 

In addition, high school sports benefit students beyond high school, for the rest of their life. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Health stated that, “High school athletes are more likely to graduate from a four-year college compared to those who don’t play a high school sport. Also, adolescents who play sports are eight times more likely to be physically active at age 24 than those who do not play sports.” 

Additionally, sports allow for many essential life lessons to be learned, including time management and perseverance. When on a team, balancing time between practices, games, homework and social life can be tedious, but it allows individuals to learn valuable life skills. By being part of a team and creating a personalized schedule to balance school and social life, time management skills are strengthened. Perseverance is a great quality to push yourself through challenges and keep going when times get tough, situations that are frequent throughout the season. Sports can teach you important life skills since you will be put in challenging scenarios and need to remain optimistic. Therefore if highschools were able to offer more freshman teams, a larger number of the student body would benefit by learning these life skills.

Amir Lanis, a student at the University of Rochester, reflected on his own experience playing youth sports and the valuable lessons he learned from participating. 

“I believe playing sports taught me how to deal with failure and disappointment in life. I learned that I am not always going to get the results I want. [But], no matter what I have to preserve and not give up. Sports gave me a positive attitude where I see falling as a way to learn how to pick myself up,” Lanis said. 

Still, some individuals are skeptical when it comes to adding freshman sports teams because there is not always enough field space or funding available. Although Redwood is limited on field space, there are ways in which to make every sport offer a freshman team. Depending on the sport, Redwood can try to utilize the fields at Piper Park, Hall Middle School and the Corte Madera Town Park. The funding challenges could also be overcome in a number of ways, including community fundraising, family contributions and the Redwood High School Foundation (RHSF). The Foundation has a special division called Benchwarmers, where all athletic requests are evaluated. Many parents are likely to contribute money to support freshman teams if it meant their kids could participate and benefit from being on a high school team. 

High school sports have numerous positive effects on students. These benefits are social, physical and mental. Freshman teams could lead to a happier and healthier life for students. Every freshman student that wants to play a sport should be given the opportunity to play.