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Student Athletes: The Ducks of Timnath Middle High
January 31, 2023
Student athletes can be like ducks: on the surface, they look collected, like they’re just gliding through the season, but below the water, they’re paddling as hard as they can to keep up with their team and all of their responsibilities.
This frantic paddling manifests in many different ways, but some experiences are shared. Say you’re on the bus to a big game, but you are missing out on school and you can’t stop thinking about the drama that happened during lunch. Your friends called you out for having your head in the clouds during games. You’re mad. You feel hurt. These people were supposed to support you. But you also feel like you have to do better to impress them. The frustration and disappointment consume your brain as the bus carries you to your final destination.
By the time you get there, your mental state is already unsalvageable. You try your hardest to pull your weight, but you just can’t keep your head in the game, always second guessing what you do. Ultimately, in the end, you suck. And it doesn’t help that your teammate is yelling at you yet again, when, in reality, they’re feeling just as overwhelmed as you are.
Being a student athlete is so much more than playing a sport.
The title comes with a lot of stumbling blocks that your average student wouldn’t have to deal with. Come to practice, give it your all, and manage to maintain healthy relationships with your teammates.
What people need to keep in mind is that no matter how put together a student may look, they can bejust as stressed out as the rest of us. So many students feel overwhelmed, and it’s not uncommon to bottle everything up.
However there’s a specific kind of stress that all athletes face. It’s called sports anxiety. It’s a subset of social anxiety where, no matter how skilled they are during practice, athletes can choke up during games and, in critical moments, trip over their own flippers and fall flat on their bills.
These negative emotions build up, which can strain your relationships with others.
Tessa Strnad, a freshman softball player, told us about her experiences with lashing out at her teammates: “I have lashed out at them before. And that was a mistake because they’re there for you. And if you take advantage of it, then they’re not gonna be there for you when you ask for help.”
When we asked her what was on her mind at the time, she said, “A lot of family stuff was hard. Maintaining those relationships at school with friends. Finding your place and where you fit in with people. And […] homework.”
Tessa Strnad is no different from any other student athlete. For many people, the anxiety of everyday life combined with the anxiety of sports can kill their social lives AND mental health. We as a Timnath community should be conscious of this and make an effort to be more understanding of our fellow cubs as they strive to build Timnath’s legacy. Because in the end, we’re all paddling together.