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Student-athletes find positive ways to handle stress


by MacKenzie Silvia
With stress in teenagers skyrocketing, it is important for teens to be able to manage their time in a positive way while still having time for extracurriculars. Students have different ways to manage their time and stay relaxed when the stressors of school consume their thoughts.
According to a study done by the Harris Interactive for the American Psychological Association and published in USA Today, obesity can be traced to students handling stress in an unhealthy way, such as through food or television. The study shows that only twenty-eight percent of students play sports to cope with their stress.
According to senior Koby Avramovich, volleyball is a nice way to calm down when school and outside stressors are making him anxious.
“Releasing stress through sports for even a few hours is very therapeutic,” he said. “I am also more focused when I participate in physical activity before I start my work. The energy that usually distracts me during homework is used for a sport which allows me to focus on my homework more.”
Although sports are a great way to release stress, senior Amanda Graf attributes some of her stress to her swim teams.
“Yes, swimming is a nice break from school,” Graf said. “But athletics also eat up time that I could be using to do homework.”
Juggling both academics and athletics also brings up the challenge of time management and how students must prioritize for both. For some, this is a daunting task. For others, “playing a sport year-round and still keeping up with schoolwork is difficult, but it actually makes some much more organized,” said senior Liv Sloane.
Sloane, a swimmer and softball player, said that “it does get stressful to find time to do homework but if I didn’t play sports I think I would procrastinate a lot more. Being given little time to do work helps me to focus and work quickly and efficiently, something I would not be able to do without being on a tight schedule.”
By prioritizing assignments, senior Fiona Ross, a squash and lacrosse player, has found success in managing her time effectively.
“I try to think ahead and if I have a busy upcoming week due to extracurricular activities I will try to get ahead with my homework so I am not completely stressed on that busy night,” she said.
North coaches hold their athletes responsible for completing all assignments on time.
“The Newton North Athletic Department adheres to the MIAA Academic Policy for student athletes,” Newton North Athletic Director, Tom Giusti said.
“The Newton North High School athletic philosophy goes hand in hand with the school’s spirit of academic challenge. The athletic program is an extension of the academic classroom, not a diversion from it,” Giusti said.
All Newton North coaches and teachers firmly believe in student-athletes putting their best effort into all activities.
Boys’ lacrosse coach Bussy Adam stresses the importance of students showing their best efforts both on the field and in the classroom.
“Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association requires our athletes to maintain four major classes where they need to be passing with a D- or above. Our coaches believe these standards are low and our players know our expectation is far greater,” Adam said.

Senior Tommy Mobley shoots a free throw in a game last season. Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff.
Senior Tommy Mobley shoots a free throw in a game last season. Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff.

Adam helps the athletes with time management by allowing “later practice times which give players ample time after school to complete any homework before our practice sessions begin.”
Connolly believes it is important to “stress the importance of doing your best and understanding the definition of ‘student-athlete.’”
Senior Tommy Mobley, a basketball player, manages his time by “writing out to-dos on a notecard and then referring to them to make sure everything is complete.”
Mobley credits the entire basketball program for holding all athletes responsible for completing their work.
“When there is a player that is failing to get work done in the classroom, coach will hold mandatory homework sessions after school. The player will be punished individually, but it is a statement that school always comes first and that rule is something everyone must follow,” he said.
As for reducing stress, Connolly cannot recommend anything more than sports to relieve pressure, he said.
“Studies have proven that exercise and physical activity will reduce stress. So my recommendation would be to play, play, play,” he said.
Adam also believes that with proper time management, the intense sports season can benefit students.
Adam recommends students to feel comfortable communicating with him, “along with parents, teachers, and school counselors, to help stay on track and achieve academic success.”
“Between the athletes’ obligations to school work, their team, their family, and maintaining a social life, there is very little “free” time. When a student-athlete is able to balance all of these commitments, they are more productive on the field and in the classroom. They appear to be happier and healthier,” Adam said.

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