Student athletes putting pressure aside for the love of the game

Athletes not letting pressure stop them from succeeding in sports

Many athletes feel playing a sport adds pressure to their lives.

However, they continue to play for the community, for the love of the game, for the friendships they form with their teammates, and for the rewarding sense of all their hard work paying off.

While playing a sport, athletes feel pressure not only to succeed in that sport but also to continue to do well in school.

“I think playing a sport adds more pressure because you’re expected to do well academically and athletically, and there’s very little understanding from coaches on the amount of homework that New Trier classes usually have,” said junior Lexy Hochschild, who used to play volleyball and now runs track.

While student athletes often feel overwhelmed by their schedule during season, Carrie Sowa, a freshman badminton and junior varsity volleyball coach, hopes the sport can be a release for students.

“It should be an outlet to have fun and get great exercise and develop friendships and pursue something they are really passionate about. I hope it is more of at outlet than a stressor,” said Sowa.

While Sowa hopes athletes enjoy playing their sport, she also thinks students being very high achieving attributes to stress felt by athletes.

“I think students try to excel at everything they do, so there is always that inherent bit of competitive spirit that I think all of our athletes feel,” said Sowa.

Senior Sophia Girgenti, a swimmer, agrees that New Trier’s reputation and mindset adds to the pressure.

“It takes a lot of time and is really competitive and New Trier is really focused on winning,” said Girgenti.

Additionally many students feel the size of the school attributes to the competitive climate surrounding sports.

“The bad part about New Trier is that it is so big not everyone will have the chance to do what they like,” said sophomore tennis player Arman Bozkurt.

Sowa agrees that the large student body causes sports to be more competitive.

“It is a little more pronounced here because we are just such a big school and as kids get closer to their upperclassman years it unfortunately narrows down and I think that is where the challenge lies,” Sowa said.

This level of competition causes many athletes to begin playing their sport at a very young age.

“Almost every kid on a varsity sport started their particular sport during middle school, if not earlier,” said Hochschild.

As sports become more intense, the amount of time spent practicing increases as well.

Most athletes feel the amount of time spent practicing is the most difficult thing about playing a sport.

The majority of athletes spend more than ten hours a week practicing while they are in season.

Girgenti, who spends around 23 hours a week swimming, said, “The hardest thing is definitely the time commitment.”

This time commitment is the factor that most often causes athletes to consider quitting their sport.

“There have been times when I’ve felt my life would be easier if I didn’t play a sport, or have been frustrated with the lack of free time I have,” said Hochschild.

Some athletes though feel like Bozkurt, who believes that while playing tennis takes a lot of time, it actually reduces the amount of academic pressure he feels.

“Actually if anything it took away from [the pressure] a bit and gave me something else to focus on,” said Bozkurt.

While playing a sport is a large time commitment, many athletes continue because of the community they build with their teammates.

Sophomore Kevin Hilleslent, who runs track and field, said, “My favorite thing is the friendships you build and my least favorite thing is the amount of time it takes.”

Along with these friendships many athletes enjoy the feeling of a win and getting to see their hard work pay off.

While describing his favorite aspect of playing tennis Bozkurt said, “My favorite thing is the feeling you get when you win because it is an individual sport and it all comes down to you.”