5 Things Only High School Athletes Understand

by Coach Jeremy C. Holm

If you read our previous blog post about the benefits of playing high school sports, you'll know that student athletes gain some game-changing skills that will help them throughout the rest of their lives. From teamwork to leadership, sacrifice to discipline, student athletes routinely demonstrate the benefits of their educational and athletic foundation by excelling in career, college, relationships, the pursuit of their goals, etc.

Now, that does not mean that junior high and high school athletes graduate without some unique experiences along the way. 

Here are 5 Things Only High School Athletes Understand:

1. "I Love The Smell of (Sports) in the Morning!"

For a high school athlete, practice and traveling for competition can be an equally exhilarating and brutal experience. Depending on the event, you may live (survive?) the wonderful phenomena known as "two-a-days" or spend a healthy chunk of your Saturdays in the gym lifting. But nothing is more trying than an early morning before school practice session or having to get up even earlier to load onto a bus for the drive to another town for a game or meet.

Let's be honest: most of us are not morning people (which is why I love bobsled: evening practice), and teenagers often require an act of Congress to get out of bed. So when student athletes actually do get up for an early morning athletic event (often with parental help), that is an accomplishment in and of itself, one that their peers who wake up at the same time their practice or game is over will never understand.

However, those same students will probably not fully understand why their student athlete friend is falling asleep in class and drooling on their textbook. Dreams of gold, my friends, they are just dreaming of gold.     

2. "My (Coach) Ate My Homework"

The struggle is real, my friends. Student athletes have a lot on their plate and with all the demands of sport, plus a social life, family life, perhaps a job and maybe even a relationship, it is no wonder that sometimes an assignment is legitimately forgotten. Now, don't get me wrong: I am all about maintaining high academic standards for student athletes because that is one way to push them to learn and grow. But when the big game is coming up or you're in a highly-intensive phase of your training program, sometimes little stuff get's lost in all the shuffle.

There is a big difference between a student who doesn't do their homework out of laziness and one who could, with some coaching, perhaps better learn to manage their schedule and to-do list. I know that teachers have to be fair with class rules and such, but I am more of a proponent of working with a student with a high extra-curricular activities load than a student who thinks that they can just float by. Not to say that I'm opposed to benching even a star player if they don't get their grades up, but a kid who spends his weekends playing video games and a kid who spends his weekends playing for his school are quite difference circumstances.     

3. Diagnosis: Sever Case of Athleticoma

Ask any athlete and they'll tell you that there is nothing quite like the thrill of a competition. The butterflies going crazy in your stomach, the racing pulse, the buzz of the crowd and the energy racing through your body. Best. Feeling. 

However, there is also the aftermath of such an event, or even a practice, and that is the crash. Athletes, you know what I'm taking about. After that incredible rush and pushing yourself to your limit, you stumble through the front door and collapse on the couch or your bed and you're just out cold. And even if you don't fall asleep, your brain is sluggish and your body is slow to respond. As my friend and fellow athlete and author Kathryn Bertine calls it, you're experiencing an "athleticoma." 

They just need some food, re-hydration and rest, but admittedly, this is kind of a funny time as an athlete to watch your teammates stumble around and try to communicate as if they just woke up from a deep sleep.

4. "Teammates: You Mess with One of Us, You Mess With All of Us!"

As cliche as it sounds, your teammates become family in high school. You travel together, train together, eat together, study together, listen to your coach's attempts at speeches together, but most of all you put it all on the line during a game...together. 

There's a camaraderie that you get as a team that (overall) is a great part of your schooling experience. Not that any team is perfect, or even a perfect unit, but generally speaking students athletes bond over their common goals through sport. Even years later they will remember the inside jokes, the team dares, the amazing plays and the trips to compete.