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Students to Rookies

By Hannah Kim and Tina Torre

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the abrupt environment change from elementary school to middle school, many students are just beginning to experience what being on a school sports team is like. Between the challenges of balancing academics and sports and the excitement of being able to exercise with friends, there were varying opinions on how junior high athletes felt.

“My experience has been pretty good. Being on a sports team is nice because you get to be more active, hang out with friends more and have a better student profile. Plus, it's fun. Some challenges I’ve faced during sports are that sometimes the events for the sport are on weekends, and it’s hard to make free time for it, so a lot of people end up not being able to attend. Another challenge is that sports end at around 4:30 p.m. so by the time you go home it’s 4:45 p.m. or 5:00 p.m., and that’s a lot less time to do homework and other things. Some things I’ve learned from sports is that extracurricular activities are a lot of fun and make your student profile look a lot better. It also helps you make new friends and become closer to the friends you have. Another thing I learned from sports is that you should try a lot harder for the things you want to do. For example, it involves going to practice every day so you can do better in a track meet or sports game. Some sports teams I’ve been on are cross country and winter track, and it’s pretty good to adjust to a new sport once you get the hang of it. The first couple of days might be hard, but after that, you will start to look forward to practice, and you’ll enjoy it a lot. Although staying after school everyday can be a little challenging because you might have other stuff on your schedule, you can tell your coach that you’re really busy that day. Gaining a new commitment to sports is nice because you’re going to start getting a lot more involved, and you’ll become healthier and feel a lot better as a whole,” said eighth grader Jorden Jacob.

Some athletes reveal that they learned being a hardworking teammate entails diligence, commitment and time-management skills. Junior high student-athletes have expressed newfound difficulties while juggling their school life. However, despite some of these challenges, numerous student-athletes still had a great time engaging in school sports, as well as getting to bond with their teammates. These athletes share that they appreciate gaining the opportunity to improve collectively with their peers and strive to better themselves.

Source by Kristen Schneider

The junior high volleyball girls prepare to make their first play.

“It was really exciting, going to the school gym and playing with my friends. It also feels refreshing after practice. Overall, I did not have many challenges to overcome. I also have learned many skills, not just sports skills, but also socializing, talking to more people. I have been on the track team in fall as well. Playing a new sport is great. I always strive to learn something new everyday, and I like staying after school. It makes me feel like I’m being efficient with my time. Even though I didn’t make the team, I still feel satisfied doing something new for a change,” said eighth grader Jackson Kang.

In addition to gaining the opportunity to expand on their skills, junior high students have shared their gratitude to finally be able to get involved after COVID-19.

“It was fun because I was on a team with my friends. One challenge is finding practice fun. I was on field hockey and volleyball. It is not difficult to transition because after online school, I didn’t have any extracurricular activities, so I didn’t have to sacrifice anything for sports,” said eighth grader Emily Houng.

In light of new opportunities regarding COVID-19 restriction lifts, coaches at New Hyde Park have expressed their exciting experiences during this junior high sports season.

“This is my ninth year coaching winter track. I coach spring track too for junior high. This year is a little different than last year. Last year, we had track, but there just were no track meets. The kids have been wearing their masks…now we are allowed to go to track meets, which is a good thing. For all of their hard work during the week, now they are getting to go to the track meet and actually participate and go against other schools. A challenge is that, depending on the weather, we are either outside or inside. Sometimes we use the stairs, so it is better outside because we can do different things and condition. I don’t mind being inside or outside because you never know what is going to happen and you have to change with the times, which prepares the athletes,” said junior high track coach Ms. Christine Dempsey.

As students new to the school experiment with getting involved at NHP, they learn more about who they are as a person, in addition to acquiring life skills. Regardless of the challenges that arise when taking on multiple activities, junior high athletes and coaches alike reveal that being a member of a team can be a wonderful experience.


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