This week I had the pleasure of witnessing a cheerleader execute her first aerial. I watched a wrestler lift 320 lbs and a basketball team push themselves to greatness. I wondered what could be motivating these athletes to devote themselves,in full,to their sports. Before I give my finding I would like to thank all of the coaches and athletes who allowed me to interrupt their practice to interview them about their experiences in blended learning athletics. I would also like to share my astonishment at the humility of the athletes at EAB. Every athlete whom I interviewed gave props to their coaches and thanked their teammates for motivating them to be there best.
I begin each interview by asking “ How have sports affected your mental health?” Every athlete responded that sports had been incredibly beneficial for mental health. They said sports helped them because it was a stress reliever and the community made them feel more at ease. However, it was the cheer team in particular that stood out to me. The cheerleaders told me that their coaches (Ms.Lola and Ms.Lady) have been helping them by allowing them to have classes that were less devoted to sports and more focused on overall mental health. I was blown away not only by the concept,but how it had paid off. I spent about a half an hour with them and it was a time filled with joy,passion and community. In fact, it was an apthospere so wonderful it even convinced me to join the team.
The next question I asked was “ Has it been difficult to balance school and athletics” I assumed that I would have been overwhelmed by the amount of yeses I was wrong. While the athletes did agree that balance was tricky they said they noticed an overall improvement in their ability to concentrate. They also brought up how the more structured day allowed them to accomplish more.
The final question I posed is as follows “ What motivates you to come?” As an athlete myself I know it is difficult to go home for a short amount of time only to have to come back to school. While the athletes admitted that it did take discipline they gave props to their coaches for pushing them to be their best. The entire girls soccer team gave credit to their coaches for pushing them in every way possible to come to practice. I heard stories of coaches coming up with creative ways to keep their athletes encaged and safe. Mr. Joness’s had his basketball team set goals for themselves to keep motivated. Mr.JP, the jiu jitsu instructor, came up with creative games that strengthened the muscles used in jiu jitsu fights.
To be transparent,the plan for this article was to only interview athletes. However, after finding out what a vital role coaches play I had to interview them as well. I posed each coach with a variety of questions. First, I asked them” What drives you to come and coach?” they answered with “ for the students”. Every coach said that they knew how important it was for students to be in athletics and that they wanted to do what they could to help their athletes. I asked the wrestling coach if he believed the training done both in zoom and on campus would give his fighters a competitive advantage. The answer was YES!!
So, after a week of interviewing just about every sports team I have decided that I am very proud to go to a school surrounded by so many humble and driven individuals. I am excited to watch the bulls impress at all sports competitions that are yet to come.