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8th graders make difference for WSHS sports teams

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8th grade swimmers Lindsay Kenney, Chloe Bramlett, Hailey Stuck, and Meghan Pinter are freshman now and still swimming

8th grade swimmers Lindsay Kenney, Chloe Bramlett, Hailey Stuck, and Meghan Pinter are freshman now and still swimming

8th grade swimmers Lindsay Kenney, Chloe Bramlett, Hailey Stuck, and Meghan Pinter are freshman now and still swimming

Alyssa Blair, News Editor

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Last year, several different WSHS sports teams embarked on their games and meets with some new and unlikely teammates- 8th grade athletes. Thanks to a waiver granted by MIAA, WSHS was allowed to take eligible athletes from the class of 2021, now the current class of freshmen at the high school, and move up them up to the high school level several West Springfield sports teams last year.

First in the winter season, the girls’ swimming team brought up six eighth grade athletes to be on the varsity swim team because MIAA ruled that there was an insufficient number of girls that had signed up for the team in the past. Later on in the spring sports season, MIAA ruled the same insufficient and unfair numbers in the girls’ lacrosse and softball programs, and they too were granted waivers to draw from the large pool of eighth grade lacrosse players at the middle school.

There were many positives that the eighth grade athletes, now freshmen, remember as they reflect back on their experiences.

“Meeting new people and making friends,  it made the transition to high school more smooth and comfortable,” said freshman swimmer Hailey Stuck.

“I already know everyone on the team and in school so it made the transition to high school really easy because I always had an upperclassmen to ask questions,” agreed freshman swimmer Meghan Pinter.

 For some of the girls, this experience was different from anything some had ever done before, but for others it was a new take on the same forms of training they have done in the past.  “The practices were really different because we were all used to just having one practice a week, but I really liked practicing everyday,” said freshman lacrosse player Katie Kane.

“The training differed from other programs I have done because there were usually two meets a week, and there were Western Mass and state championships to qualify for,” said freshman swimmer Lindsay Kenney.

When it came to the rest of their teams, despite assumptions that high schoolers would be somewhat annoyed with younger athletes joining the team, the eighth graders say they received nothing but positive reactions from their older teammates.

“The camaraderie with my teammates and the support I get from all of my teammates during races are some of the best parts of being on the team,” said freshman swimmer Chloe Bramlett. “It is nice having everyone cheer for each other because we want our team to win. Being on this team has created many new friendships and even when the practices are hard we always joke around with each other and make each other laugh.”

“Definitely the best part was the big family I got to be a part of. The team was just so close with each other,” added JV softball player Evelyn Morissette.

Of course there were the rough parts, as Bramlett pointed out. “Getting up at 6 am for Saturday morning practices are never fun,” she said.

The only bad part about being on a high school team while attending the middle school is trying to go to practices and games on time, because the middle school gets out a half an hour later than the high school, and we would have to arrange our own rides everyday to get to the high school or the practice fields,” said Morissette.

However, regardless of the slightly difficult or hard parts, all the girls agreed that this was an amazing and irreplaceable experience.

Coming into this year as freshman, some are expecting things to change. Stuck says she is “looking forward to having new captains” and seeing what their views will be on “how to run the team smoothly.”

Pinter agreed, saying, “I feel that I will be much more sociable and comfortable with my teammates, and by training more this past year hopefully swim some great times with my team.”

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8th graders make difference for WSHS sports teams