By Hannah ’25
Many students at Harvard-Westlake participate in athletics, whether they are involved in playing a sport, managing a team, or even helping with HWTV, where students film and commentate on athletic events. For middle school students, grades 7-8, all sports except golf and tennis have a no-cut policy, so students can try out multiple sports with little to no experience. Before I came to HW, I had never really been serious about sports; I didn’t participate in athletics outside of school and at my elementary school, athletics was not really a priority. So as a seventh grader at HW, being able to try different sports and see what I liked really helped me see what sports I wanted to commit my time to.
When I was in seventh grade, I participated in every single athletic season, I played volleyball, basketball, and softball. All middle school athletics have after-school practices on-campus and only a few times a week. Being on many different athletic teams as a middle schooler had many different benefits. It helped me discover what sports I wanted to continue being involved in, since I was new, I was able to meet a lot of new people and make friends that I wouldn’t meet otherwise, but it also helped me learn how to manage my time, which was tremendously helpful and still helps me to this day. Taking on an athletic commitment helped me gain more responsibility with how I spent my time. On practice days, I made sure to complete my homework during my free periods, and when I had games, sometimes I would get work done on the bus. Developing these habits has helped me learn how to use my time efficiently and wisely, which has become increasingly important as I get older.
When students enter 9th grade, they can participate in high school sports all the way until senior year. Depending on the sport, there can be varsity, JV, and freshman/sophomore teams. Athletics becomes more of a time commitment for high schoolers; many sports require conditioning and/or training seasons and most sports have practices/games every day, making it a much larger commitment than middle school sports.
Since I’m in ninth grade, this was my first year participating in high school sports. I play volleyball both in school and outside of school, (basketball and softball weren’t really my thing), and I benefit greatly from the time management skills I learned as a middle schooler (and am continuing to learn). At times, balancing academics with athletics can be overwhelming, but learning to use my time wisely has really been the key to finding the right balance.
But in the instance where I do find myself being overwhelmed with schoolwork or other activities, there are many ways that the school helps. For example, coaches understand that academics is important, so if I feel overwhelmed, my coaches will help me figure something out. In addition, HW also offers many resources for their students; meeting with teachers, talking to deans, meeting with one of our learning specialists. So to sum it all up, finding a balance between sports and academics can be difficult, but HW offers many resources and a lot of support to help students.