By Abigail Allen
Student-athletes: that’s what we call them, but many people forget the term “student” comes first for a reason. WCHS sports teams have noticed that and set their expectations to ensure athletes do their best, in and out of the classroom.
Lady Warriors basketball coach Kyle Shipp runs a pretty tight ship for his players. He holds his players to the rules set for high school sports all over Indiana.
“You have to pass five out of the seven classes you are scheduled for. Passing is defined as a D- or higher. These rules are in place by the IHSAA,” Shipp said.
The responsibilities and fun of sports can sometimes overshadow the importance of academics and can result in falling behind in classes. Athletes must have time management skills to maintain good grades. Junior wrestler Brandon Burns reflected upon the effect sports can have on student-athletes’ education.
“Sports can get in the way of academic performance if the person cannot manage their time well, and/or have several other things going on. The results can come out poorly,” Burns said.
Coaches value their sports of course, but they also value their players and their lives outside of sports, including their academic lives. Wrestling coach Dave Thompson has taken care of the wrestling team in all aspects of their lives ever since he first started coaching, and he hasn’t stopped to take a time out. Thompson, along with all the other coaches of the sports teams, has specially set rules for his wrestlers so they can keep up their skills and their grades.
“Athlete[s] must be passing their classes before they can participate in athletics; therefore they must perform in the classroom first,” Thompson said. If students do not comply with the academic rules, they will not be allowed to participate in the activity until they get their grades up.
All sports teams have their rules and goals as athletes and as students, so they strive to perform both in games and in classes. The players themselves push one another to succeed just as much, if not more so than the coaches. Some coaches have their own special rules to make double sure that their athletes are doing what they need to do in the classroom. Even with a little push, sometimes it isn’t enough, and there has to be specific rules to make sure all athletes make the grades and win the game.
“[We do] weekly grade checks: two D’s or one F and the player will attend a mandatory study table during period four or after practice,” Shipp said, explaining his methods of keeping his players and their grades in check.
Burns secures his place on the mat by knowing his place in the classroom and being aware of the repercussions of not working to succeed in the classroom only pushes him harder.
“If you have two F’s, you cannot participate in the sport, but you can practice. Any more F’s and you’re done for the semester,” Burns said.
On top of the rules set by the coaches, the players push themselves in the classroom so they can stay in the game. Johnson discusses how playing a sport is a privilege and how that privilege helps her succeed in the classroom.
“Being a student athlete enhances my academic performance, because being part of a team is a privilege. Part of that privilege is keeping my grades up, so being on the team motivates me to maintain good grades,” Junior tennis player Reese Johnson said.
Teams have to work together to reach their goals in the game and in the classroom, so it’s a team effort to achieve those goals.
“We, as a team, do our best to support each other. If someone is falling a little behind in school, we are more than happy to help them out. That also applies to playing on the court, too; if a teammate is struggling with what we are working on, we will be there to help them get back up to pace. As a whole, we want each of us to be a successful team,” Johnson said.
Sports and school are very important parts of these athletes’ lives, and when it matters most, they know when to put the racket down and pick up the pencil, and when to ask for help when they struggle. The friendly competition between sports helps players overcome obstacles and push themselves to succeed, but the real winners are those who encourage themselves and others, competition or not, to ace the test and win the game.