Team Bonding Essential to Success in Sports


Girl's volleyball goes pumpkin picking as part of their team building activities.

Molly Kennedy, Sports Editor

Being a varsity athlete is something many student athletes aspire to be since it’s the most advanced team in high school. They must work very hard not only to get on the team, but to balance schoolwork with longer practices and higher level play. Most varsity spots are reserved for upperclassmen, so freshman making varsity is rare.

In order to make varsity, freshman must be advanced in the sport. During tryouts, people are evaluated based on different components in the sport. Athletes must demonstrate high physical fitness in order to play on a varsity sport and be able to pick up the newer skills very quickly.

Throughout the season, many freshmen are able to gain confidence but at first playing and practicing with students who are much older and more advanced than you can be very intimidating. Regardless of their grade level, athletes are expected to perform at the same level on a varsity team. Arushi Patel was the only freshman on cross country last year and at first, it was a little intimidating. However, she adjusted and became more comfortable. “All the girls on the team are really supportive, nice and caring,” she said.

Depending on your position in a sport you need specific skills. Chad Labonte, varsity football coach, described the process of picking who will play in the starting line-up. “Players are grouped by position and based on the week to week game plan, and our opponent, we plan for different situations during the game,” he explained. So who plays is based on who they think will be useful throughout the game and also changes based on other factors other than skill. Sportsmanship, communication, and attitude are all part of who plays and who doesn’t.  

In volleyball, most girls walk into the first day of tryouts with little to no experience. Sometimes the coaches see high potential in a player and the athletes are able to pick up new skills quickly. Chelsea Barnicle, the varsity volleyball coach, said, “Volleyball is extremely challenging and there will always be mistakes made. Athletes grow the most in those moments.” Coaches expect many mistakes from incoming freshman, but it’s more important how the player is able to adjust and fix their mistake.

During soccer, it is very hard to try to put all components into a tryout session. According to Nicholas Gumlaw, the varsity boys soccer coach, “Our system takes many aspects of the game of soccer and puts it into a way of grading players.” There are multiple coaches grading each player and in order to make varsity, athletes need to have specific skills.

There are three freshmen on varsity soccer this year- Garrett Daley, Cathal Carney, and Matthew Slate. All three started soccer at very young ages (3-5) and have been playing on competitive teams for years. Daley and Carney are not very intimidated by playing with older athletes because they went to captain practices over the summer and have has played sports with older kids for many years on advanced club teams. “You’re playing against kids with beards and muscular men,” Slate said. Most freshmen are fourteen in the fall, so playing against kids who are four years older can be difficult.

There are many aspects that go into what coaches look for at tryouts. Most coaches at WSHS have been coaching for multiple years and have seen many kids come and go and know what to look for in athletes.