Balancing school and sports is not always easy, but being a scholar athlete at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child has been one of the most formative and rewarding experiences of my life. A normal night in-season usually consists of me, scrambling to finish what feels like endless homework and studying for my tests and quizzes the next day, after a 2 ½-hour practice at our field complex in Chatham, New Jersey. By the time it reaches midnight, I’m setting an alarm for 6:30 a.m. to do it all again the next day.
While nights like these may sound dreadful, it’s worth it in the end because I know I worked hard to achieve great success on the field and in the classroom. And, above all, I know I’m not alone. There are so many student-athletes at Oak Knoll — alongside artists, philanthropists, technologists and others who have after-school jobs and commitments — that we all spend a great deal of time balancing activities while needing to find time to hit the books.
For those of you considering playing a sport in high school and wondering whether it’s possible to get good grades while putting in the time on the field, here’s what I’ve learned from being a scholar-athlete:
Time management as a student athlete is crucial. While it’s something I still need to work on, I have learned to manage my time and finish my schoolwork while also giving it my all in practices and games. I have learned the importance of utilizing frees/study halls during school, to get as much work done as possible before practice, so that I can lighten my work load for after practice, when I’ll definitely be tired.
Work Hard, Play Hard — literally
As a student athlete, it’s hard to give 100 percent of your effort and time to both school and sports. I always try to work hard in the classroom and play hard on the field. While this isn’t always easy, I find that the best way to achieve this is to get enough sleep, eat well and manage your time. During a busy week of sports and school work, it’s easy to feel like you're spreading yourself too thin, but during times like this its extra important to sleep and eat right. Your coaches will remind you of this! Set yourself up for success! (And also read “5 Tips to Overcome Stress in High School” — a blog by my fellow classmate Kate Riggin ’18!)
We Royals have created an athletic program built on trust, discipline and, most importantly, faith — faith in each other, and faith in God. For example, during both soccer and lacrosse seasons, which I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of throughout every year of high school, we pray as a team before games. It allows us to center ourselves and focus before playing, while connecting with each other spiritually. It’s always been something special about Oak Knoll, and one of my favorite parts of game day!
“I never scored a goal in my life without getting a pass from someone else.” - Abby Wambach.
Coming from a player I’ve always admired, I think about this quote often. I first read it written in a note from one of my teammates before our soccer game, and it put me in the right mindset before going out to play — to keep unity and teamwork at the forefront of my mind. At Oak Knoll, this is easy. Each team is a family and I’m constantly surrounded by my sisters who support me — on and off the field. Though each team has its own individual traditions and pre-game rituals, there are common themes of family and sisterhood throughout all Oak Knoll athletics. Sisterhood is found in Oak Knoll traditions, like “Pump-Up Buddies,” who are teammates, secretly assigned to one another, who, before every game, write their buddy a note and even bring in a Gatorade or candy to get pumped for a game. Each colorful and encouraging PUB note is a reminder of our team unity and the support of my Oak Knoll sisters!