Natural Transition from Middle to High School Athletics

Madison Parola, Staff Reporter

For freshmen fall athletes, this year has been a change in sports, as middle school to high school athletics requires a shift in the amount of time an athlete is expected to give to the sport and the way the athlete must balance sports with school each day.
“[High school] is completely harder,” said Maggie O’Donnell, a freshman volleyball player on the freshman A team. “I have to manage my time very precisely, and if I don’t, then I will be a mess, and everything will go wrong. Management is very important, especially since you have to completely dedicate your time to the sport and then base your schedule off of that and homework.”
However, because O’Donnell, unlike some athletes who start a sport once in high school, has been playing for three years, she found the transition easier than others.
“High school was a lot less stressful for me because a lot of people told me that I would make it, but it wasn’t just that, I felt more confident this year than I did the other years that I tried out for volleyball. Also, thirty girls made the team, so I had a pretty good chance,” O’Donnell said.
After making the team, she went straight to practices, which frequently would go for two hours.
O’Donnell said that in high school “the practices go longer, and we do a lot of different drills. Also, the [competition gets] a lot harder”
It’s the tougher competition that makes O’Donnell like high school volleyball better than middle school volleyball.
“It is so much better because you get to play against a lot of better talent,” she said.
O’Donnell added that because high school athletes demand more, athletes get more from their teammates.
“It’s amazing how close you get with the girls [on your team]; it’s like we are all actual sisters, and I absolutely love it.”
From passing the ball across a court to running on a field, there’s a big difference in competition across all sports.
For freshman Clarissa Wienckowski, varsity cross country runner, she has been running cross country for four years– since fifth grade. Wienckowski found that the practices have been more challenging than the ones in middle school, and the coaches push more in high school.
With competition she said that “[the sport] is taken more seriously, and [athletes] don’t like losing.”
While Wienckowski did not have to try out to make the cross country team, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t find the competition intense.
“It is very stressful because your season starts off [based on] how you start [the season] off, so [in your] first race [you don’t do your] best [then that] is what the coach thinks of you, unless you prove yourself better to the coach,” said Wienckowski.
Middle school and high school sports have completely different levels of competition through the years. Also, they become more serious and the skill level is improved.
“I like the high school sports much better because they are more competitive, like me, people take the sport seriously, and the team becomes very close with all the pasta parties and bus rides together,” Wienckowski said.
Going from middle schools, such as Fremont, West Oak, Carl Sandburg and others to MHS, student athletes agree that it can be a big difference with sports, homework, competition and stress, but in the long run, many of the athletes are just happy to be playing the sport.