By Anna Deason
One of the most integral parts of the St. Mary’s community is celebrating our fellow students’ achievements, both inside and outside the classroom, and nothing better exhibits this passion than cheering on our SMS sports teams. We all love going to soccer games and watching our friends beat Hutch or going to senior nights, even though there may only be one senior on a team.
Many of our peers are competing throughout the year in sports that require long hours of intense training and discipline outside of school, and if you’re lucky enough to be friends with one of these athletes, you already know how hard they work, but the rest of you might be surprised by their dedication
“[People] hear about my accomplishments,” competitive-level baton twirler Madison Brode (12) explained, “but they don’t always understand what I do and the amount of practice I do outside of school.”
Sports like baton twirling are often treated as secondary to school sports like soccer or basketball, even though both types of sports may involve the same amount of effort.
Brode continued, “I don’t think my accomplishments are forgotten, but I do think that my work is. I don’t think people realize how much time it takes. Literally, when I’m not doing homework, I’m doing baton. It’s like a lifestyle … you have to dedicate your life to it, and I feel like that’s something people don’t realize.”
Similarly, horseback rider Ella Trotz (11) admitted, “My friends know a little bit about [riding] since I have a separate Instagram for it, but I don’t think many people understand enough to give any recognition … I don’t think people really understand how much [work] it is mentally and physically … Most people see it as me sitting on a fancy horse and [think] he does all the work.”
Because most of us know so little about these actives, we often don’t realize how much time these students spend after school and on weekends building their skills and practicing. When asked if dance practice ever interferes with school work, Mikayla Jones (12) emphatically replied, “YES! Yes, yes, yes and yes. It’s ALWAYS in the way of my school work. I’m up late every night doing homework due to my late practices, [since] class ends at 8:30.”
Trotz mentions that she is thankful the St. Mary’s teachers are usually so flexible around her competition schedules.
Jones commented, “Most people know I dance, since I dance during pep rallies and dance battles and stuff, but other than that, not many other people really know, let alone recognize me for my dedication.” For Jones, dance is more than just a sport. Dance provides an outlet where Jones is able to freely express herself and let go of daily stressors like school work.
“In my opinion, [my sport is forgotten],” Jones continued. “Even though people who know me and other dancers personally often recognize our accomplishments in dance, I definitely don’t think the St. Mary’s community as a whole does.”
Sheridan Austin (10) participates in year-round in competitive-level cheer, practicing and performing stunts with her teammates for 10 hours each week. Like Jones, Austin sees cheer as more than just an after-school activity.
“One thing [cheer] has taught me … is how to speak up,” Austin expressed, “I’ve had to learn how to communicate with my group on how to hit the stunt. We have to speak up and say what we feel when the stunt is happening so we can learn what works and what doesn’t work.”
Although Austin believes her sport is often forgotten by the St. Mary’s community, she acknowledged, “[cheer] is not a school sport, so I understand why [St. Mary’s] doesn’t mention it that much. But my friends think it’s cool and are proud of me, and that makes me happy.”
For many athletes, just having the support of their friends is enough, but for those who still feel overlooked, Jones suggested integrating more of these non-SMS student athletes into Turkey of the Week and spotlighting them on the official St. Mary’s Instagram pages.
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