Athletes look for ways to juggle sports, school

Jones punts the soccer ball back into play at a quarterfinal game in Davis, California for Pacific Northwest Soccer Club
Photo Courtesy of Bernie Jones

In addition to the normal responsibilities of an RAHS student, student athletes who are serious about their sport must find stability between their school work, schedule, and their commitment to their sport.

Sophomore Andy Pham is a swimmer for Tyee High School and the Central Area Aquatics Team (CAAT). Pham has swam most of the breaststroke events throughout his swimming career and has broken many records on his previous team, WhiteWater Aquatics.

“I started swimming on a club team at the age of 12; I loved swimming from the start,” said Pham. “After competing at many state and regional championships, I’ve gained lots of confidence in who I am. I will continue to swim in order to compete at ahigher level and gain more confidence in myself.”

Throughout the high school swimming season, Pham swims 4-5 hours during weekdays.

“Typically, my daily schedule looks like me going to school for periods 1-5. Then, I head over to my high school practice where I swim approximately 2 hours,” said Pham. “Once high school practice is finished, I drive to my club practice to swim another 2-3 hours. Every other weekend, I compete at swim meets for my club team.”

As a committed athlete, Pham plans to continue swimming into college, preferably in Division 1.

“Once I’m finished with my college career, I would like to go into a sports related job,” said Pham.

Sophomore Bernie Jones is a goalkeeper for the Pacific Northwest Soccer Club and Highline High School’s varsity soccer team.

“My whole family is connected to [soccer], like we all play it; it’s just something I was phased into,” said Jones. “My dad would coach and he would carry me around while he coached so since I could walk I’ve played soccer.”

Jones hopes to continue playing soccer in college and possibly beyond.

“Hopefully [I] would be going pro at one point, but I could at least use it to get into a good college,” said Jones.

As a result of Pham’s schedule, he drops his sixth period class just to be able to do high school swimming.

“Students that aren’t athletes often go home and have lots of time to work on homework or even hang out with friends,” said Pham. “That’s not the case with student athletes, because I swim for roughly 4 hours a day, I don’t have those opportunities to start homework early or hang out with my friends on weekdays.”

Pham has to decide carefully which courses he will be taking because he is limited to five per semester.

“In order to graduate with the minimum required credits, I must not fail any classes at all from now till the end of senior year,” said Pham. “I sometimes also have to go over my schedule with Ms. Carper in order to plan out which courses I need to take in order to get the credit I need. Also, losing 6th period as a student athlete means losing opportunities to take new courses that I’m interested in.”

Yet, Pham doesn’t regret his decision to come to RAHS as he acknowledged the repercussions of being a student athlete at RAHS.

“I wanted to pursue better education and more challenging courses,” said Pham. “I understood the consequences of doing high school sports with all of the classes and school work. With that being said, I have to now prioritize my schedule in order to balance my time at RAHS and in the pool.”

Jones, however, only finds difficulty with his schedule during the high school season.

“I don’t think I really have any [time challenges] other than when the high school season comes and I have to leave school early to go play my sport,” said Jones. “It’s kind of stressful then because you don’t have transportation so you have to figure it out on your own.”

Scheduling issues aside, Jones believes that soccer has driven him to work harder in school.

“I’d say [soccer] actually drives you to want to do even better academically because the thing they stress in athletics, especially if you want to get into college and play at a high level, is you need academics first for coaches to look at you,” said Jones.

While sports have their plethora of benefits, academics ultimately come first. In the title ‘student athlete’, student comes before athlete.

“I’d say just understand that sometimes you’re going to have a busy schedule but look towards the greater goal,” said Jones. “I’d say understanding that academics do come first; make sure that’s finished and if there is a day where you’re going to miss practice it’s not going to kill you, you just need to work even harder the next day.”

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