Athletes Need Varsity PE back

Kelli Cigelnik, Staff Reporter

Imagine waking up at 5:30 a.m. to attend conditioning sessions that last until school starts.  Then imagine having a three-hour practice after school that is followed by hours of homework.

That’s how it is for many student athletes at MHS now that varsity PE classes are no longer offered.  Without this option, MHS athletes suffer as do the sports programs.

“We won’t be as good because we won’t have that extra hour and a half to work out and practice the little things we don’t usually have time to do at practice after school,” said Junior Rachel Tipperreiter, who plays basketball.

She said that in the varsity PE classes, she could practice her shooting, but now that these classes no longer exist, “we have to be at the school at 6:20 every day to shoot and to have extra practice. Also, we condition after school instead of doing it in gym class.”

The benefits of the varsity PE classes didn’t just apply to basketball.  Athletes found that taking the PE classes off-season allowed them to get in shape for pre-season.

According to Emily Ollendick, junior, the varsity soccer class was in the middle of the winter, so the students couldn’t practice outside. This was good because the first couple of weeks of the soccer season are indoors on the main gym floors, so it prepared them for playing soccer and conditioning on the gym floors.

“The PE classes helped us more to get used to the gym floors for when we had practice indoors,” said Ollendick.

For some sports, it makes the pre-game warm up more difficult, which could affect a team’s records, and MHS doesn’t have that strong of an athletic program as a whole.  Taking away the varsity PE classes won’t help the program get stronger.

“Our shooting percentages will go down,” said Tipperreiter.

Some athletes, like Junior baseball player Brendan Murphy, are anticipating longer practices as a result.

“I think practices will be definitely longer, but not necessarily harder, because we are losing the time we would’ve had in gym,” he said, “and practices will go later in the night instead of getting out at 5.”

Because many athletes are anticipating longer practice times, they are also worried about how this will impact their academics.

“We have to get up early every day to make up that time in gym, so it is affecting our grades because we are tired in class,” said Tipperreiter.

Varsity PE classes usually had an understanding teacher who knew that the students in the class had a major physical time commitment after school, so they planned the classes accordingly, particularly on game days.

According to Tipperreiter, the new PE classes now are not useful for athletes because there is no point in having to run miles and lift a bunch of weights right before a game or match just because the student doesn’t want to lose participation points for that day in class.

Also, the varsity PE classes gave the athletes extra time with their teammates, but now that the classes no longer exist, team bonding could be affected.

Someone new to the team has to attend practice without getting to know the other team members first, something that could have been achieved in the varsity PE classes.

The classes also allowed teammates to be a different self at school rather than the extremely focused and competitive self at the sports practice or game.  This allowed teammates to get to know each other in several different situations.

Overall, varsity PE classes need to be brought back, so athletes can better themselves athletically and academically while building solid teamwork.