Striking a balance between athletics and academics

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Striking a balance between athletics and academics

February is over. Although it may not feel like it, spring is just around the corner. And with it, Naperville North will usher in a new season for athletics.

Spring comes at a crucial time during the academic school year. For many of the Advanced Placement classes, teachers will soon finish up the final units of their curriculum and start preparing their students for the AP test. In addition, quarterfinals will soon pop up in certain classes. In general, students face the pressure of reaching the halfway mark of a semester. And very soon, it will be the heat of spring sports seasons. Athletes will be forced to make a tricky decision: what takes priority?

In one way or another, every student at NNHS is faced with this question. Whether you pitch a softball, play a viola or do anything in between, you’ll need to strike a balance between extracurriculars and academics. Whoever you are, there will always be something to take your focus away from school. But to an extent, I truly believe this is a good thing.

Many Huskies seem to have academic tunnel vision. Grades dominate their perceived level of worth, and a poor scholastic performance can very nearly break their hearts. To have multiple outlets to spread your focus is an important attribute for healthy teenagers. It helps us diversify and expand our horizons beyond the simple task of test-taking. But sports can leave a student both physically and emotionally drained, making academic excellence very difficult to achieve.

Last spring, I tried my hand at gymnastics. I spent most of my energy toward the parallel bars, hoping to one day earn a score above 3.500. I had an absolute blast doing it, but I was not even remotely successful. Regardless, it was still one of the most exhilarating activities that I have ever tried. Sadly, I have been pressured to drop the sport this season by a set of collegiate-focused parents who have my best interest at heart. Combined with a bad case of senioritis, my parents figured that gymnastics might send my grades right over the edge.

And you know what?

They had a point. My Spanish 4 grade has improved, and I now have more time to focus on AP Stats. I feel much more confident about taking the AP test this May. And while I still have a few college apps to finish up, I know I can complete them with my extra time.

Of course, every athlete must make their own decisions regarding the matter. For those with prospective athletic scholarships, prioritizing sports might be best for their future. But for those with athletic careers that might end after NNHS, grades will probably be the most important aspect regarding college. If students cannot maintain their desired grades while doing the sport they love, then it is time for athletics to take the back seat.

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