Freshman in Sports


Brett Abrams, Staff Writer

The end of middle school signifies the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Pali’s freshman, one with more freedoms yet increased responsibilities. Taking the first steps on a new campus with some students who look as old as their teachers is nerve-racking, but the friendly face of an older student or a new friend made through school sports practices can make a difference.

Pali sports teams are very important to the school community, but seem to have an even bigger impact on the freshmen who participate on these teams. Everyone knows about the upperclassman sports stars, but the viewpoint of freshmen is not often discussed. The development from freshman “newbie” to upperclassman star is a long process.

Pali is home to nearly 3,000 students and most freshmen have never been to a school this large. For many freshmen, the sheer size of Pali’s classes can be overwhelming, but for freshman Jade Finestone, who plays on the girl’s varsity tennis team, the transition has been made easier thanks to sports. When discussing the impact of befriending older teammates, she said, “all of them have been really nice and helped me out with all my classes.” Finestone spoke highly of her teammates’ contribution to her academics by saying that they “told me about all the teachers and what I need to do to get an A.”

Freshman Erin Hogan, a member of the girls’ junior varsity volleyball team, explained that being on the team has “helped [her] meet new people.” Sports can introduce students to lifelong friends, but, according to Hogan, they can also contribute to “making [her] overall high school experience tolerable.”

Along with other students, freshmen in sports can rely on the advice of their coaches. Throughout his first few months of football practice, freshman Toby Manheim, a linebacker and tight end on Pali’s junior varsity football team, learned a valuable lesson from the coaches that he applied to both the field and the classroom: “Whatever you’re doing, work hard because there’s someone else who could be outworking you.” Coaches have had to cut students due to low grades, but have also rewarded students for their high academic achievements. Freshmen benefit from their coaches’ experiences with different types of student-athletes.

Freshmen, depending on their middle school experiences, will likely be adjusting to their new life as a student-athlete. Being on a sports team as a freshman has its benefits as it introduces the player to students and coaches who can provide advice throughout the school year.