Are Freshmen Too Fresh for Varsity?
By LILY WACHTEL
While it may be hard to keep up with schoolwork and sports, Jericho High School freshmen on varsity teams manage to balance both despite their youth and inexperience.
Jericho High School staff and coaches agree that bringing up a freshman to a varsity team is a positive action in that it improves both the team and the player. Jericho High School girls junior varsity tennis coach Ms. Funes said, “The team could probably use her and that student would be an asset, so why not?” Jericho Athletics Director Mr. Mankowich said, “At Jericho High School, we play to win. We put the best players on the field, and if a freshman has a better skill set and plays a sport better than an upperclassman, then yes, they should be put on the team.” Jericho athletic trainer Ms. Dunn, who was on a varsity team as a freshman for basketball and soccer, said, “I think a freshman on varsity is a good idea, as long as the student-athlete is going to play and get experience.”
Conversely, Mr. Mankowich and Ms. Dunn both believe that there can be some downsides to freshmen playing on varsity. Mr. Mankowich explained that some student athletes find the varsity level to be overwhelming. “In basketball, I think overall playing on varsity was a positive experience but it was a lot to take in from the beginning,” Ms. Dunn said of her experiences. Although there can be some negative aspects to playing on such a high level team at a young age, most coaches and staff agree that freshmen on varsity will make sport teams better as a whole at Jericho High School.
Many freshmen students are proud and happy to make a varsity team. Freshman Jade S. began playing for varsity basketball when she was in eighth grade. She said, “I was very scared but I was also very excited because I felt like working with older girls would be fun and it would help me improve my basketball skills.” She added, “It was definitely a positive experience. I made best friends on the team and it’s like being with the older sisters I’ll never have.”
Sophomore Kian G. who made the Boys Varsity Soccer team last year as a freshman said,” I was scared when I first found out I made varsity because the guys are physically bigger and better than me.” He explained that he wasn’t treated unfairly as a freshman, and the guys were really nice to him throughout the season.
Freshman Mia M. who plays on the girls varsity soccer team said, “An advantage to playing on varsity is that I have met so many older girls and became friends with them.” However, she did struggle to balance her sports and academic responsibilities. “It’s hard to manage homework while playing on varsity because it takes time out of doing my school work, but I have learned how to manage my time,” she said.
Senior and captain of girls varsity soccer Sammi P. said,” I do not see any emotional or social harm in a freshman playing on varsity because it helps them adapt to what it’s like to be in a social environment with people of all ages.”
While it may sometimes be difficult for younger athletes to play against teams with more experienced players, they all are definitely committed to playing the sports they love, and helping Jericho’s varsity athletics improve.
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