Mental, emotional components of athletics evaluated

Alexandra Shafran, Graphics Editor

Many Stevenson students balance not only a multitude of AP classes and clubs, but also athletics. While an organized study schedule may lead to success in classes and clubs, being successful in athletics requires more than just the proper equipment and a good skillset.

A popular misconception is that being an athlete only requires physical training. However, at the high school and college level, when academics are still so highly stressed and so vital to students’ success, there also develops an aspect of mental health that needs to be acknowledged. Chad Dauphin, Assistant Athletic Director, believes that mental stability plays an even bigger role in being an athlete than physical.

“I think that being an athlete, especially here, is more of a mental stability than physical really,”  Dauphin said. “The key to success here is balance. Not only does a sports participant have to balance their classes in order to obtain eligibility, but they must also balance their family life, social life, and make time to attend practices and games.”

A physical aspect that Dauphin mentioned is that every coach wants their athletes to be competitive in the off season. To provide more structure than off season training, they will sometimes encourage athletes to participate in another sport. But, this could potentially be yet another pressure to the already existing things that the athletes have to balance,” Dauphin added.

For some students, it may take a few years to find that balance between academics, sports, and social aspects of their lives. Organization and time management is absolutely vital to the success of Chandler Whitney ’17, and many other athletes in all different types of sports.

“As a player on the Sophomore girls’ volleyball team, I have to be extremely aware of my schedule and heavily rely on my calendar to ensure I have time to complete all of my school work,” Whitney said,  “With weekday practices until 6:00 and game days until as late as 9:00, staying organized and balancing academics with athletics can be even more mentally exhausting than the physical aspect of the sport itself.”

Despite being mentally burned out , Whitney mentioned that teammates help each other whether it’s a bad day on the court, or if it’s just a simple homework problem. Coaches also are vital in providing a support system for their players.

“Being a Stevenson athlete takes more than just physical abilities. It requires dedication, determination, and most importantly—a deep love and passion for the sport,” Whitney said.

While having to maintain balance and time management to monitor mental stability, whether it’s throughout the school day or on the fields, there is also the obvious physical health component that needs to be monitored.

With so much time taken away from studying and homework, there is often a physical toll of exhaustion that can greatly impact a student’s performance in both aspects of their participation.

Another student who has been in the athletic department for three years, as a double-season athlete in the fall and spring, Megan Lillis ’16, finds that sometimes, the key factor of success as both an athlete and a student is to be in tune with your body.

“Its absolutely essential that you listen to your body,” Lillis said. “Being so busy and trying to get so much done, exhaustion comes over you, it’s inevitable. Over the years, I’ve learned that becoming self-aware and monitoring where you are is all it takes to be healthy physically and also be much less stressed with school work.”