Student athletes, counselor share experiences, perspectives on balancing school, life

Trinity+Griffin%2C+varsity+cheerleader+and+senior%2C+cheers+for+the+varsity+basketball+team+at+a+home+game+in+March.+She+said+one+of+the+biggest+challenges+to+being+a+student+athlete+is+trying+to+maintain+grades+at+school+while+performing+for+a+sport.+Although+she+said+she+values+her+grades%2C+she+said+she+prioritizes+her+mental+health+over+her+school+work+and+grades.

Luke Miller

Trinity Griffin, varsity cheerleader and senior, cheers for the varsity basketball team at a home game in March. She said one of the biggest challenges to being a student athlete is trying to maintain grades at school while performing for a sport. Although she said she values her grades, she said she prioritizes her mental health over her school work and grades.

Hannah Baer

Bing Hudson, Varsity Men’s track runner and senior is a busy student athlete. He says that the best way that he manages his stress is to find a balance. 

“I just try to balance things as much as possible,” he said. “So, when I’m at track, I’m at track and I’m doing everything for track. But then outside of track, I know that I have to get school done before that because if you don’t get it done then you obviously can’t compete. So, I just try to focus on getting done what I have to get done in time before track, so essentially just academics or athletics, because you’re a student athlete first, so that’s the main thing.”

To view a story about Colts Linebacker Darius Leonard and his struggles with mental health, click here: Colts Darius Leonard: NFL must support mental health in draft process (indystar.com)

He also said there are some challenges that come with playing a sport and managing stress.

“If you have a big assignment due on a certain day and then you have a (track) meet or like a big workout the next day, sometimes that has happened (to me) and you’re up late trying to submit (the assignment). Then you’re worried that you won’t get sleep, so that’s like the only big (challenge) I would say that would have to (deal) with (managing stress),” Hudson said.

Although being a student athlete comes with it’s challenges, overall, it has many major benefits.

“Probably the team aspect (is the best part about track),” Hudson said. “Individual success is good but when the team wins state or at least getting like runner-up, it’s always just good being around these guys. And all your hard work has paid off. So yeah, probably the team aspect is the best part (of track).” 

David Mikesell, a counselor here also said that finding a balance is key for these student athletes. 

To view a report that investigated stress within college athletes, click here: Identifying Stress Unique to College Athletes: Health Outcomes & Interventions | RISE:2021 (northeastern.edu)

“(The student athletes) should definitely try to find a balance. A lot of times the athletic portion of it is a stress-reliever for the academics and so that’s really a good time for them,” Mikesell said. 

Mikesell also said, “If the stress is related to the athletics, in that regard, I think our coaches here are great. So, (for the athletes) communicate with the coaches (or) somebody on the staff, (since) we have a large staff here. (It is important for an athlete to) express what they’re going through because that’s not always apparent to a coach and if there is anything that a coach can help them with (it) can certainly be beneficial for them.”

Mikesell also said that joining an activity at our school is a great way to deal with stress. 

“I think if you’re feeling stressed from school, I think athletics is a great outlet for that. That’s why I always encourage students to get involved in extracurricular activities. It doesn’t matter what it is, I mean it could be performing arts, same way,” he said. 

Mikesell also added, “Hopefully, our student athletes who perform on outside teams have that same support and those coaches realize that it’s just not the athletic endeavor that’s involved. It’s not like you’re a professional where that’s all you have to do (is) sports primarily. Here, our students have other responsibilities and they have long term goals. They want to do well in high school to go onto that next step and so they’re trying to prepare for that also.”

Bing Hudson (middle), varsity men’s track runner and senior, sprints towards the finish line during a track meet. He said although being a student athlete comes with its challenges to balancing time, he said the overall benefit of being part of a team outweighs those setbacks.

Like Hudson, Trinity Griffin, varsity cheerleader and senior said that being a student athlete comes with its challenges. 

Griffin said, “The most challenging thing about being a student athlete is probably maintaining grades and studying along with practices because you never know when you’re gonna have a big test the same night as like a game or something big going on with the sport.”

She also said that she prioritizes her mental health. 

“If I have to make a compromise, I tend to just go to the cheerleading practice or whatever sport it is just because I feel like it helps me relieve stress more than school work does. And that might not be the best thing but it’s the best thing for my mental health,” she said.

Griffin also said that cheer has really helped her throughout high school. 

She said,My favorite part about cheer is all the friends that I (have) made the past four years. I don’t think I would’ve transitioned into high school as easily or as comfortable as I did without cheerleading.” 

Overall, Hudson said even though playing a sport and managing stress does have its challenges, he loves being part of the track team. 

He said, “We’re just a fun group of guys running track and we love to work hard to reach our goals and it’s just a(n) overall good time.”

1