Too Many Practices?

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Too Many Practices?

Image by Roseanne Joseph

Image by Roseanne Joseph

Image by Roseanne Joseph

Image by Roseanne Joseph

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For the past several years, the Weddington track and field teams have been the top in the region. Our distance team is one of the best in the country, and the top in the state. Prestigious placing is commonplace for Weddington sports, including our lacrosse and football teams. All these titles, however, do not come without a price: time.

Our track and field program is debatably the most demanding sport Weddington offers. In order to remain competitive, students practice year-round, Monday through Friday, for several hours a day. Students are also expected to attend Saturday practices. These practices are optional, as per state requirements, but students are typically placed in fewer events if they do not participate. Track and field practices are never canceled for any reason, whether rain, cold, or shine. With the amount of time and energy that students put into the sport, it raises the question: should we loosen up and give our runners more breaks?

It is undoubtedly a privilege to be a Weddington runner. Our athletes get more attention than many schools across the state, giving students more opportunities for college scholarships. Loosening up on the number of required practices would likely decrease our overall performance, and might lead to a loss of some of that spotlight. However, track students often struggle to keep up with the intense pace and lack of flexibility and some end up quitting. This balancing act takes a toll on students, parents, and coaches, leading some to question if this tough schedule worth the extra attention.

There is another way to give athletic students time flexibility: offering early morning practices. Various other schools hold sports practices in the morning and afternoon and giving students the opportunity to pick which practices fit best into their schedule. Perhaps, coaches could require 5 practices a week, and offer 8. Another consideration is putting more trust in students to practice on their own on Saturday nights if they have other commitments or priorities. These options would allow students to be more involved and join clubs or get a job. It is also critical that students have time to complete their homework, study for tests, and get extra help if they need it.

While participating in Weddington’s champion sports teams is a privilege and should not be taken lightly, it would be more beneficial to students to offer more flexibility on practices. Offering morning practices is something to consider for sports and could result in lower stress and even better performance. Sometimes we need to keep in mind that the goal of high school is more than just to get teens into college, it is to nurture students into respectable, well-rounded people and to encourage them to work hard and have fun.