Racing Against Time

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Image Courtesy of Paige Albright '23

Paige Albright ’23 performs a football game.

Your eyes are starting to feel heavy, but you have to keep them open long enough to finish your last little bit of homework. You can see your warm, comfy bed waiting for you only a few steps away from you, but you have to finish one last assignment. It’s two in the morning and the rest of your family is sound asleep, but you had your sport’s practice after school, and now, you’re three hours behind on your schoolwork. For many high school students, specifically student athletes, their nights are long, stressful, and tiresome. The only way they could possibly get enough sleep is if they quit the sport that they love participating in, or they start giving less effort on schoolwork and therefore receive lower grades and a lower overall GPA. Time management is difficult for almost everyone, but the busy schedules of student athletes make managing their time a whole lot harder.    

Caroline Mascardo ‘22, Paige Albright ‘23, and Max Gerke ‘24 are athletes at West High. They have had to find balance in their lives between sports, school, and their personal lives. With each participating in a different time-consuming sport, from tennis to track and field and dance to swimming, each has a unique experience as a student athlete at West. You’ll get to know these three West High student athletes better while gaining some valuable knowledge on how to best manage your time. School is difficult by itself and being an athlete is hard too. But, putting those two jobs together is one of the most challenging and demanding tasks a teenager may have to experience if they wish to do so. 

Max‌ ‌Gerke‌ ‌‘24‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌student‌ ‌athlete‌ ‌who‌ ‌swims‌ ‌and‌ ‌plays‌ ‌tennis.‌ ‌“They‌ ‌[tennis‌ ‌and‌‌swimming]‌ ‌are‌ ‌very‌ ‌time-consuming‌ ‌because‌ ‌I‌ ‌play‌ ‌outside‌ ‌of‌ ‌school‌ ‌and‌ ‌year-round,”‌ ‌Gerke‌ ‌said.‌‌He‌ ‌swims‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌mornings‌ ‌twice‌ ‌a‌ ‌week‌ ‌and‌ ‌then‌ ‌right‌ ‌after‌ ‌school‌ ‌again.‌ ‌His‌ ‌tennis‌ ‌schedule‌‌ includes‌ ‌playing‌ ‌at‌ ‌night‌ ‌three‌ ‌times‌ ‌a‌ ‌week.‌ ‌In‌ ‌February,‌ ‌he‌ ‌has‌ ‌a‌ ‌tournament‌ ‌or‌ ‌meet‌ ‌every‌‌ weekend,‌ ‌while‌ ‌in‌ ‌September‌ ‌he‌ ‌has‌ ‌none.‌ ‌When‌ ‌he‌ ‌has‌ ‌practice,‌ ‌he‌ ‌gets‌ ‌home‌ ‌at‌ ‌8:00‌ ‌pm,‌ ‌which ‌‌leaves‌ ‌him‌ ‌a‌ ‌total‌ ‌of‌ ‌an‌ ‌hour‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌half‌ ‌to‌ ‌finish‌ ‌his‌ ‌remaining‌ ‌tasks‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌day.‌ ‌An‌ ‌hour‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌half ‌‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌remaining‌ ‌tasks‌ ‌don’t‌ ‌seem‌ ‌like‌ ‌a‌ ‌lot‌ ‌of‌ ‌time,‌ ‌but‌ ‌he‌ ‌still‌ ‌makes‌ ‌sure‌ ‌he‌ ‌goes‌ ‌to‌ ‌bed‌ ‌by‌ ‌10‌‌pm.‌ ‌Being‌ ‌a‌ ‌student‌ ‌athlete‌ ‌obviously‌ ‌comes‌ ‌with‌ ‌stress.‌ ‌Everyone‌ ‌experiences‌ ‌different‌ ‌levels.‌ ‌As ‌‌for‌ ‌Gerke,‌ ‌he‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“Sometimes‌ ‌I‌ ‌experience‌ ‌a‌ ‌lot‌ ‌of‌ ‌stress.‌ ‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌perform‌ ‌well‌ ‌and‌ ‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌do‌‌well‌ ‌in‌ ‌school.‌ ‌So,‌ ‌when‌ ‌I‌ ‌miss‌ ‌school‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌sporting‌ ‌event,‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌get‌ ‌very‌ ‌stressful‌ ‌when‌ ‌I‌ ‌have ‌‌lots‌ ‌of‌ ‌makeup‌ ‌work‌ ‌to‌ ‌do.”‌ ‌A‌ ‌simple‌ ‌solution‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌more‌ ‌schoolwork‌ ‌done‌ ‌seems‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌to‌ ‌quit‌‌sports‌ ‌or‌ ‌skip‌ ‌practices,‌ ‌but‌ ‌Gerke‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“I‌ ‌think‌ ‌I‌ ‌am‌ ‌at‌ ‌too‌ ‌high‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌level‌ ‌to‌ ‌just‌ ‌quit‌ ‌and ‌‌disappoint‌ ‌my‌ ‌teams.”‌ ‌Instead‌ ‌of‌ ‌missing‌ ‌practices‌ ‌or‌ ‌quitting,‌ ‌he‌ ‌makes‌ ‌it‌ ‌a‌ ‌priority‌ ‌at‌ ‌home‌ ‌to ‌‌finish‌ ‌his‌ ‌schoolwork.‌ ‌Gerke‌ ‌seems‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌handling‌ ‌all‌ ‌this‌ ‌work‌ ‌well‌ ‌by‌ ‌prioritizing‌ ‌what’s‌‌important.‌‌‌
Paige Albright ‘23 is on both the dance team and the track and field team. Dance takes up the majority of her time. During dance team season (from July to February), Albright sometimes spends a combined 22 hours a week dancing for West and her club team. Her last dance class each day usually ends at 9:30 pm, which leaves her going to sleep at midnight or later. She’s had to get used to doing her homework throughout the school day in classes and during her breaks between activities later in the day. “School stress weighs on me constantly and doesn’t let me sleep,” Albright said. Although dancing and track and field are stressful, especially with the year-round training that Albright participates in, she said, “Sports give me a place to breathe, to take my mind off school; having something like that keeps me really grounded and [allows me to] enjoy my high school time, even though it is super busy.”
Caroline Mascardo ‘22 is a part of the West High girl’s tennis team. Tennis is a time consuming sport because of the two hour practices, as well as the meets. Mascardo is also involved in different clubs in the school like Student Senate, Model UN, Musical Charity, the WSS Newspaper, and Orchestra. “Finishing up activities allows some time in my schedule to include tennis,” said Mascardo, “but it is definitely a concern because of losing hours daily.” This is in disregard of the amount of homework she has. “It pains me to say that I feel like every waking hour has something to do with homework,” Mascardo said. In regards to quitting tennis because of school work, Mascardo said, “It definitely crossed my mind because of this year’s load.” Two things that have helped Mascardo in managing her time better are doing study sessions with friends and creating a weekly to-do list. For upcoming athletes, Mascardo said, “Be patient with yourself and expect to make a lot of mistakes along the way. It took me a while to realize that there is no ‘end goal’ with playing sports.”