Friday night frights

Student athletes handle the pressure of succeeding


The expectations placed upon student athletes is immense, some might even say too much to handle. Whether it be trying to balance a difficult workload between school, homework, practice, and games, while being expected to have a social life and get eight hours of sleep a night, or even within their sport, the pressure of performing at a high level with hundreds of fans watching and coaches and teammates depending on them to do their best. Juggling all of these balls at once can be hard, to say the least, but student athletes have been doing it for years with the proper guidance and support.
“Pressure can definitely get to people” said football varsity captain Michael Nix “Some [athletes] handle it really well, and even thrive with all the lights and attention on them but I have personally seen some people fold under the pressure.”
Whether it be Friday night lights, Saturday hockey games, or some of the more less attended games, the feeling of pressure is universal. As a fan, these moments can be some of the most exciting times, sitting on the edge of your seat, cheering at the top of your lungs, and watching your classmates perform at such a high level in front of you.
“School sports are such a big part of high school culture” said senior Katie Cloud “going to football, basketball, and hockey games are just an essential component of being a high school student, especially at Saint Viator. All of the traditions like the themes, chants, and hanging out with your friends are all part of the experience.”
However, as fans, we are not thinking about what is going on in the quarterback, point guard, or server’s head during a tie game with only possessions left. We are tunnel-visioned by the idea of winning that we do not consider the weight that is on the shoulders of these athletes during these crucial moments.
“Fans aren’t too worried about anything other than their team winning,” said senior basketball player Aiden Ramsden. “We should definitely be more considerate of the fact that these are just high school players and that this isn’t their full time job, they are going to make mistakes. But I also do think that even if a team is playing in an empty gym or even an empty stadium, the players will put the same amount of pressure on themselves, it is just the competitive nature of sports and it is ingrained in the mindset of the players, some of whom want to play college sports.”
The dream of playing college sports is one that so many high school student athletes chase across the country. While one’s recruitment is not solely based on their per
formance in one game and especially not during one possession, it can sometimes feel like that.
“Seeing a college scout at your games can be extremely intimidating” said basketball captain Eli Aldana, “You feel like they are watching your every move and dissecting every little thing you do. It almost feels like if you make one mistake, that mistake can cost you a scholarship, which is almost never the case, but that doesn’t make it any less nerve-wrecking.”
All of these perspectives grant insight to the different aspects of high school sports, but what student athletes are at their core are not athletes or even students, they are people and it is imperative to the success of these student athletes not only in their sport or school but in general, that we consider their well-being and happiness above all else.
“Some students respond well to structure,” said Mr. Leahy the head of the counseling department “knowing that there are only 24 hours in a day and eight of those are dedicated school time, and then knowing that you have practice or competition a few more hours of the day forces you to utilize your time outside of school more effectively. This being said, the pressure, whether imposed on by the athletes themselves, peers, or parents and guardians can definitely weigh on students too.”
24 hours in a day, eight of which students are at school, another eight are recommended to be dedicated to sleeping, another three playing your sport, does not leave students with much time to do much of anything else.
“There’s going to be times of highs and lows” said Mr. Leahy “There is going to be some moments of adversity but this can be valuable, showing students what coping strategies might not work allowing them to try something else, trying a different approach, it’s not always a bad thing, it may seem so in the moment but I truly believe that you come out stronger”
So the next time you are on your feet, watching the seconds tick down in a tied game wearing whatever the theme happened to be that night, remember who you are cheering on, and more importantly, what you are cheering for.