Athletes in Autumn

The Plights (and Power) of the Student Athlete

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Athletes in Autumn

Alisha Rusher

Alisha Rusher

Alisha Rusher

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On paper, August is the month of browning leaves and waning weather. Still, the Las Vegas heat persists, beating vengefully onto the valley. Though the lot of us are protected throughout the day by the haven of shelter, there are student athletes who fight through the heat every day to become better at their sport.

Football players must push through the exhaustion of carrying their heavy gear with sweat hazing their eyes and fatigue reducing the shouting around them to a subtle ring.

Cross-country runners battle their own bodily failsafes, fighting their lactic acid levels as their feet callous in the summer heat.

Volleyball players work to build a team dynamic and handle the pressure of real-time competition.

Tennis players endure the scolding heat of the court and struggle through the concept of meditation in motion.

A-TECH students are stereotyped as cerebral, unathletic kids who measure their success by the number of A’s on their report cards. Athletes like sophomore Jabari Flanagan, however, would strongly disagree.

“I’m real passionate about the sport, and I don’t think there’s anything that’ll separate reality from the illusion of people better than football.”

Flanagan plays football for Canyon Springs High School and he’s had to attend practice every day since the start of school. Unfortunately, the homework load doesn’t bend to his schedule.

“The hardest part of being a student and an athlete is time,” Flannagan said. Participating as a student athlete, especially during the fall, forces him to be especially responsible.

“Time is like the most valuable thing when it comes to school, so you’ve got to figure out where you’ll be able to squeeze your homework in.”

Struggling to balance schoolwork and practice is one of the more obvious difficulties that student athletes face, but Flanagan mentioned another, scarcely mentioned obstacle.

“You’ve got to eat right,” he said. “So you have to find time to eat certain meals, things like that.”

Freshman athlete Madison Kennedy faces similar challenges in her realm of sports: cheerleading.

Many would say that football and cheerleading are incomparable, but when asked the most difficult thing about being both a student and an athlete, Kennedy and Flanagan both said “time” without hesitation.

Still, despite this time disparity, Kennedy goes to cheer practice and cheer competitions regularly. Why?

“I’ve been [cheerleading] for a number of years actually. It wasn’t really my choice, my step-sibling was doing it and my dad kind of forced me into it, but I guess I fell in love with it.”

A cheerleader and a football player, both motivated by a love for their game, have to endure the difficulties of the sport. Both adapt to time constraints and heavy stress. There’s a misconception in popular culture that there’s no stress in the sport of cheerleading, but when asked, Kennedy said that “Between bus rides, in the car, you have to find time whenever you can. You have to keep your grades up, because if you don’t you’re off the team.”

There are real stakes, real strengths and real consequences here. It takes a lot to be a student, especially at A-TECH, but it takes a special kind of metal to be a student athlete.

While we hone our Fortnite skills, they’re outside honing their craft. While we procrastinate and lie to ourselves about getting it done in the morning, they’re doing it all the morning before. Living the life of a student and an athlete is difficult, but Flanagan and Kennedy, opposite genders, opposite races, the opposite sides of the sports spectrum, made one thing very clear: “It’s worth it”.

Jabari Flanagan, Sophomore, Football player at Canyon Springs High School

Madison Kennedy, Freshman AMST Cheerleading

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