Some second semester seniors stay in spring sports, others quit

March 12, 2020 — by Andy Chen and Anna Novoselov

With their college apps completed and P.E. credits fulfilled, many second-semester seniors make the tough choice to discontinue spring sports that they have played for multiple years. While some quit due to burnout, others decide to commit the time they would have spent practicing and playing at games to other activities. 

Senior Jingyu Kang, who ran track from seventh grade to his junior year and was one of the team’s top sprinters last year, quit the sport so that he would have time for a job.

“I didn’t quit because I was lazy or anything; if I could, I definitely would do track,” Kang said. “I wanted to work to gain experience and see what a real society is like, but I didn’t have time to go to practices and work.”

Kang works at Gen Korean BBQ House three to four times a week, usually in four-hour shifts. For him, work is more valuable than participating in a second-semester sport for two reasons: Joining track wouldn’t benefit his college admissions process since  most college applications are done by second semester; more importantly, he wanted a taste of financial independence, especially before attending college. 

“I want to earn my own money for my senior trip,” he said. “I want to be responsible for using my own money.”  

Another former track runner, senior Alex Taylor, who plans to become a fashion designer, quit the sport in order to focus on creative pursuits such as art and sewing.

“I’m moving on to pursue other things in my life,” he said. “I’m starting to direct myself toward where I want to go, and track isn’t a part of that.”

Taylor, who ran the 100m, 200m, 400m and participated in long jump, frequently placed at meets throughout his three years of being on the team and competed at CCS last season. Still, he believes he made the right choice by quitting as he now has more time to focus on himself and on his future.

“It was a hard decision that I didn’t take lightly,” he said. “Track meant a lot to me and I learned a lot of things in track.”

Although quitting their sports allows many seniors to pursue their developing interests before college, Tim Lugo, the school’s athletic director and head football coach, feels that losing the veteran athletes often leads to lasting impacts on sports programs.

“Regardless of whether it’s a team or individual sport, losing upperclassman hurts a program,” he said. “The biggest factor impacted is leadership; everyone will follow their lead, good or bad.” 

Additionally, with a decreasing number of seniors, coaches start depending on underclassmen to fill typical varsity roles —  a method that may not provide consistently reliable rosters over the years, as according to Lugo, all freshmen will be required to take P.E. in future years to follow state regulations. 

This year, the track team has 88 total participants, 16 of whom are seniors — slightly down from 91 participants, 17 seniors and 19 juniors (current seniors) last year.

Senior Albert Xiao, a boys’ varsity swimmer and Junior Olympic qualifier, said that it's understandable that seniors chose to quit their sports because they value other activities more. Since many athletes do not continue playing competitive sports after high school, they believe career-oriented skills prove more beneficial.

He, however, chose to continue swimming despite the considerable time commitment.

“I actually started swimming [in seventh grade] for practical reasons: so that I could keep fit,” he said. “I’m still doing it because being on the swim team is fun; the team spirit is really cool.”

Going in the opposite direction, some seniors choose to begin a completely new sport during their spring semester due to the increased amount of time they have after completing college applications. 

Senior Connor Galvin joined track despite not having participated in a school sport since the sixth grade. He said that he hasn’t faced difficulties adjusting to the team because track is primarily an individual sport and he has a lot of friends who have been on the team for multiple years.

“I can run by myself, but it's more interesting to run with friends,” Galvin said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

He said that he thinks many seniors choose not to play spring sports because of the burnout and lack of motivation they feel once college applications and P.E. credits are completed. 

“A lot of people stay in things that they don’t want to stay in for longer than they should because they don’t want to show colleges that they quit,” Galvin said.

Lugo said that students joining a sport as a second-semester senior isn’t necessarily a good thing, unless the athletes prove to be dedicated and interested in the sport.

He said that he discourages second-semester seniors solely coming out for a sport solely to earn credits to graduate, saying they tend to miss many practices and are usually not as skilled as returning players.

“Coaches spend a lot of time developing the skills needed for a sport and for students to come out kind of defeats the purpose of the development of the individual and team,” Lugo said. “Coaches always feel like they have to start over.”

Galvin, however, has already completed his P.E credits and says he is participating in track because he enjoys the sport and hopes to contribute to the team. Since track is an individual sport, differences in skill level and experience do not have as much of an effect on other players as in more team-oriented sports like basketball and baseball.

“I’m definitely not the fastest, but I’ll try not to miss a day of running,” Galvin said. “I would consider myself rather committed to the team.”

Even before he joined track, Galvin would run in his free time. Being part of the team allows him to continue exercising while spending time with friends.

“It’s good for seniors to join a sport in spring semester because with college apps done; it’s a fun thing to do with the increased free time,” Galvin said. “That said, if they don’t enjoy the sport, there’s really no point to it.”

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