Student Athletes: Running into the New Season


Bowman Shaughnessy (right) and Aminata Johnson (left) smiling big after Cross Country Regionals. Picture taken by Ellie Messina.

Student athletes are students participating in school sponsored sports, whether it’s the fall, winter, or spring. Sports beginning means something different for everyone, but for student athletes it’s when they see their friends, play a sport they enjoy, and their schedule becomes hectic. The students who aren’t overwhelmed make friends for life, and can participate in something special.

Will I Make the Team?

Tryouts at the start of the season can be either stressful and strenuous, or laid back and fun. The fall season is coming to a close, and the winter sports are about to begin, so there might be an overlap in sports since most tryouts are on November 5th and 6th for winter sports. For Sophomore Ashley Houck, tryouts are intense and usually very draining, “For soccer, it’s mostly scrimmaging. I was kinda nervous because I thought it was just going to be a lot of running, but it’s just scrimmaging; it’s pretty great.” Houck also brings up basketball, where coaches prepare a rigorous tryout in order to see if anyone will give up, “Basketball: it’s a lot of running. They just wanna see who’s gonna leave.”

Tryouts hold lots of stress for each student trying out, and when you make the team there is a lot to gain, although most of the people interviewed find it difficult to balance everything. Houck has almost no time at home due to homework, sports, and seeing friends, she says, “It’s a lot more work, and you’re also responsible to better present yourself at school, because you’re representing that team and you have to be a role model. You really have to manage your time.”

Senior Gabriella Hopper has been a student athlete all four years participating in basketball, soccer, and swim, so she had lots of experience in balancing activities. “It’s so hard. I think it was the worst last year because I had a lot of homework Junior year, but I feel like you gotta use the time you have, especially in school, and you just gotta sit down, focus, and do your homework,” Hopper comments.

Improvement and How to Prepare

In order to improve, you have to put a lot of time into your chosen activity, and that’s exactly what these athletes have done. Junior Hain Henderson, has some goals in mind for improvement this year in swim and ultimate frisbee, and already knows how to achieve them. In regards to ultimate frisbee, he spends time to improve during their practices, typically on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. “I hope that in frisbee I’ll be able to throw in a perfect straight line.” Ultimate frisbee is a new club sport this year at West Potomac. It is a no contact sport, where you use a frisbee and try to pass to a teammate in the opposing team’s endzone.

The fall season is the first season of the school year, but the preparation is the most grueling for the students, because for most sports such as cross country begin training while it is still summer.

“We lost a couple of good players last year, so we’re a really young team this year. I really hope we can do team bonding, just stuff like that so everyone can just get to know each other and we can play better together and it isn’t so individualistic.” Hopper talks about how she hopes to have the Varsity basketball team become better as a team, which is something that any athlete should hope to achieve on the field and/or court.

Feeling Discouraged and Advice

Sophomore AJ Terio runs in cross country for our West Potomac team. Terio talks of how the team is really close, and how he’s excited to run varsity this year, but Terio admits to feeling discouraged in cross country, “I’ve always been good at running, except for the first race this year, I messed up a lot and paced with Wesley. Last year he was my role model.” Wesley Uhrin is a Junior this year, and runs on Varsity as well. The race was Monroe Parker at Burke Lake, and it is an annual race, and the first of each year for the cross country team.

Being able to juggle between your academics, sports, social life, and free time can be extremely challenging. It takes a while, but eventually you can be able to do it with the help of your team, and knowing yourself well enough for when to stop.

Hopper’s advice for new student athletes, ”Push yourself, don’t just take easy classes just so you can focus on your sport. Push yourself to be the best you can be, and know that school always comes first.”

While it can be difficult, being a student athlete is also one of the most rewarding things as a student, and in the end you’ll be happy you did it. If you follow the above advice, and read the previous tips given by our student athletes, you’re practically ensured survival. So sign up for one of our school’s many sports, but remember: have fun with it, or what’s the point in doing it at all?