York football team lines up after the huddle at their first home game. (Photo courtesy of Matt Kavanaugh)
York football team lines up after the huddle at their first home game.

Photo courtesy of Matt Kavanaugh

Finding balance between school and sports

November 25, 2019

School, homework and sports: it’s challenging to find a balance between them as they can all be equally stressful.

Sports at a high school level require months of practice in order to improve upon an athlete’s skills, so it can be overwhelming when they are are a major part of a student’s life. 

“Out of school in my travel season, we have practice once a week,” junior and varsity softball player Lauren Derkowski said. “On my own, I work out two times a week and do drills. In school ball, we have practices almost every day and sometimes in the morning.” 

Photo courtesy of Lauren Derkowski
Lauren Derkowski winds up for her pitch at a York softball game.

York psychologist and sports coach Amy Talbot often sees patterns of stress from many student-athletes. 

“Currently, the biggest issue we see is the idea of time management and balance. A lot of student-athletes who are experiencing high stress from classes also spend hours a day after school at practices and clubs,” Talbot said. 

Stress in an athlete’s life isn’t always just from sports, but from classes; more specifically, honors and AP classes. 

“Depending on the day, I spend around two to three hours on homework, and on the weekend, sometimes five to six hours,” junior and Varsity football player Matt Kavanaugh said. 

Kavanaugh is enrolled in five honors and AP level classes and Derkowski is in four.

“I think there are patterns of high stress for not only athletes but students involved in any sort of out of school activities such as clubs, jobs, etc,” Talbot said. “As a coach, it is pretty easy to observe or sense the stress level of players. It is hard to perform at your best when you are carrying around a lot of extra stress.”

Photo courtesy of Matt Kavanaugh
Matt Kavanaugh (#1) riles up the crowd at a York football game.

With busy schedules, many athletes learn time management early on. 

“Time management is kind of hard sometimes because you have to know yourself. You have to know what you can do that in that time you have,” Derkowski said. “Then switching into the mindset of ‘got to practice, got to fix this, got to work on this,’ and as soon as that’s over, it’s right back into school mode.”

Even with improved time management, distractions can still be an issue. 

“I try to stay off my phone. I don’t go on it until I’m finished with homework and sports,” Kavanaugh said. 

Even some of the coaches work to make life easier on their stressed-out players.

“As coaches at York, we try to be very aware of anything extra that may be going on in a student’s life,” Talbot said. “This way, we can try to make sure practices are effective but not too long. We also give off time during finals in order to help students make schoolwork the priority and relieve some of the time pressure during these high-stress times.” 

Although sports can be rewarding and relieve stress, athletes find that it’s about finding a good balance. 

“Even though it can be tough sometimes if you love a sport, continue doing it,” Derkowski said. “You know, at the end of the day, school is going to be more important, but at the same time you have that leisure and you have to have fun.”

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