Brawn versus brains

Students in athletics work to keep grades up

Story by Ali Richter, staff writer

The swimmer kicks his legs and pumps his arms as hard as he can before going into a fast flip turn. It is the last stretch of the race, and victory is in his sight.

He touches the wall and raises his heads from the water to find that he won the race with his best time ever. The coach gives him a thumbs up, and teammates clap him on the back after he gets out of the pool. However, the triumph is short lived for the swimmer when he remembers the mountain of make-up work that awaits him at home.

Students who participate in sports must become accustomed to missing school. Their busy schedules filled with matches, meets and games do not allow them to be at school 100 percent of the time, and makeup work can pile up because of it. Athletes in golf, tennis and swim must be able to manage this to be eligible to play.

“During golf season, I miss school a whole lot,” junior Ryan Hall said. “It is especially difficult to stay on top of things because golf tournaments can last longer than other sporting events, and I miss consecutive days.”

Teachers typically only have lessons planned for a day in advance, which makes it very difficult to get makeup work early when an athlete misses for more than one day.

“I try to get all of my work before I leave for a tournament, but that isn’t always possible,” Hall said. “That’s okay though because I usually don’t end up doing any school-work at the tournament, and I have to do it all at home.”

If teachers are willing to help the students out a little, it can make it much easier for them to get their makeup work taken care of.

“Teachers can help student who miss school by giving them their work in advance,” junior Cathryn Payne said. “That way they have extra time to complete their assignments.”

Some older players have gotten in a groove with getting their makeup work taken care of.

“Although it is kind of difficult to stay on top of school work because of golf, I’ve learned how to manage it, by working hard,” senior Natalie Portwood said. “Personally, I try to do my work during free time on the trip, be it on the car ride or in the hotel room.”

Other athletes can get frustrated while doing all of their activities because it leaves them little free time.

“Sometimes I spend every extra second I have on tennis trips doing homework,” senior John Norton said. “I’ll be sitting on the bus at night with my flashlight on, trying to get in more calculus problems so I can get some sleep when I get home, and I know I’m not the only one on the team who does that.”

In the fall, the tennis team misses every Tuesday for the first couple months. They also miss some Friday afternoons when leaving for tournaments. Some freshman have more trouble adjusting to getting a handle on all the work.

“If I was able [to] not miss school for tennis, I would absolutely have a better grade in some of my classes,” freshman Tirzah Bailey said. “I miss a lot of work, and I try to keep up by going to Night Library.”

Swimmers don’t necessarily miss actual school days, but they put an abundance of time into swimming. They have practice in the mornings and after school, as well as meets on the weekend.

“We do have some overnight meets, but that only adds up to around three days of total absence,” sophomore William Norton said. “I try to keep my time managed well and do most of my work at home.”

Athletes learn that they have to be very dedicated if they want to be good students. They put in the extra time and work if it means making the grade they desire.

“I try to immediately get started on homework when I get home, instead of getting on my phone,” sophomore Kristin Clayton said. “I will stay up as late as I need to depending on what I have for that night.”

Although it might seem crazy to others, athletes juggle school, sports, and other extracurricular activities because they want to, not because they have to. If they wanted to focus completely on school, they wouldn’t be playing a sport in the first place.

“Even though swim can press me for time on many of my assignments, I think it is worth it,” Payne said. “I really enjoy swimming and all the friends I have made through doing it.”