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Redwood Bark

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Redwood Bark

What it means to be a Giant
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Seniors launch their caps in their air as Dr. Barnaby Payne announces they have officially graduated.
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Cora ChampommierJune 15, 2024

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Dual sport athletes use track to sprint ahead

Vaughn asserting dominance on the football field.

For kids who hope to play sports at the highest level possible, sports specialization seems like the only option, even when professionals advise against it. Now more than ever, younger generations are playing one sport year-round. While this might not seem like an issue, it has detrimental effects on future athletes. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), sports specialization can lead to increased stress, injuries, and burnout, which can cause athletes to quit earlier altogether. Redwood sophomores Sydney Middleton and Ben Vaughn are getting ahead of this issue.

Ben Vaughn plays Varsity Football in the fall and decided to do track and field to stay in shape and get stronger this spring.

“I signed up for track and field so I could work on footwork and strength but I was surprised how much fun I would have. Everyone is so supportive, and even in practice, when we go against each other, everyone cheers each other on,” Vaughn said.

Multi-sport athletes like Vaughn can experience mental and physical benefits, like reducing the chance of overuse. Overuse is very common for people who play a single sport year-round; being a direct cause of early retirement. Being a multi-sport athlete creates a versatile player. Even when playing a different sport, improvement in coordination and footwork is occurring. Different forms of activity train muscles in a new way, which can contribute to the prevention of overuse injuries seen by athletes who only target specific areas in their training. All of these positive aspects far outweigh the negatives.

Middleton displaying her speed, sprinting down the track.

According to the National Athletic Trainer Association, “Burnout is a response to chronic stress of continued demands in a sport or activity without the opportunity for physical and mental rest and recovery.”

This results in student-athletes feeling trapped in a pool of responsibilities, both academic and athletic. Many do not believe in burnout and wonder why athletes don’t just take a break, or even quit if they experience it. Many athletes feel that they have something holding them back, such as a scholarship, a starting spot, or just their love of the game.

Sydney Middleton, a varsity soccer player and track athlete, experienced burnout early in her athletic career.

“Whenever I’m mad, tired or just don’t want to play anymore, I will think; I’m just going to quit, but I almost feel like I can’t. It would make all these years feel like a waste of time,” Middleton said. 

 It’s a difficult decision for an athlete to quit when they have spent countless hours working to improve, only to have everything come to an end.

“I played soccer from kindergarten to 6th grade before I had to take a break for a few years because I developed bad knee pains probably from playing 6-7 days [a week], and [soccer] was no longer fun. If I hadn’t taken those years off, I wouldn’t be playing anymore,” Middleton said.

Athletes of all ages struggle with burnout and overuse. It’s important to continue or begin playing multiple sports while having fun doing so.

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About the Contributor
Lucy Miller, Cub Reporter
Lucy Miller is a sophomore at Redwood High School and a cub reporter for The Redwood Bark. She enjoys hanging out with friends, traveling, and playing lacrosse and field hockey.