Studies and sports a delicate balance at Lansing schools

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By Meg Dedyne
Listen Up, Lansing Staff Reporter

Charnel Gloss, a 12th-grader at Everett High School in Lansing, said that the hardest part of being on the basketball team and being a student is keeping her grades up.

“It’s hard to find time to eat, sleep, go to practice and keep your grades up,” Gloss said. “Everything is really busy and it’s worth it but it takes a lot of work.”

Every day, high school students try to balance their time between school, sports and other extracurricular activities. Young athletes deal with the constant challenges of doing well in school, doing well in sports and finding time for other commitments such as family and work.

Liz Ballinger, the athletic director and girl's basketball coach at Everett High School runs drills at her practice. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Liz Ballinger, the athletic director and girl’s basketball coach at Everett High School runs drills at her practice. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Gloss said that time management is also a big deal while being a student-athlete. She spends most of her time every week on school and the remaining portion is devoted to basketball.

Liz Ballinger, the athletic director and varsity girl’s basketball coach at Everett, said that constant reminders of how important school is both in the classroom and on the court are always reinforced.

“When we get tired we need to push each other,” said Ballinger to her team at their afternoon practice. “We have to communicate more.”

After warm-ups, Ballinger had her team communicate to each other and count while shooting layups, followed by sprints.

“We express leadership in everything that the girls do. They need to be leaders in the classroom,” said Ballinger. “That’s why I stress communication and working as a team so much. It’s important to send that message to them as educators.”

DonNae Howard, who is in 11th grade and the manager of the girl’s basketball team at Everett, said that traveling with the team is hard sometimes because it’s hard to find time to eat.

“I think the hardest part about being the manager is being hungry,” Howard said. “Between school, homework, practice and games I don’t have time to eat sometimes. I have to get extra help with school work sometimes too to stay on top of things.”

Howard said she has school all day and then practice for at least two hours a night and then on game days or days they have scrimmages, she does homework after school and then doesn’t get home until late at night after the game.

Liz Ballinger coaches the girl's basketball team at Everett High School. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Liz Ballinger coaches the varsity girl’s basketball team at Everett High School. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Ballinger said that she loves seeing the girls grow from year to year on the team and that most girls who come in as freshman stay until their senior year, besides those who transfer in or other circumstances such as this.

“A lot of these girls have school and jobs and family stuff to take care of,” Ballinger said. “That’s why it’s really important to me that they do well in school and also have an outlet when they come to practices and games.”

Susan Cheadle-Holt, principal of Everett High School, said that there is a pretty direct correlation to being involved in extra curriculars such as sports and doing well in school.

“There is a lot of mentorship that goes into sports and through the coaches and students, we have strong motivation for responsibility in school,” Cheadle-Holt said. “Students have the feeling that if I’m not eligible this week then it’s going to affect my whole team.”

Cheadle-Holt said that they try to keep students involved and in activities or sports the whole year because they see some students drop their grades after their sport is over.

“Coaches are very committed to student-athletes and students are our priority and focus,” Cheadle-Holt said. “We try to have study tables and mentor students as much as they need it. It’s a small percentage that make it to college with a sport so we want our students to of course focus mainly on academics.”

Dr. Rodger Massa, a chiropractor near Lansing and wrestling coach said that most of the kids who do well in school and sports are the ones who go the extra mile. But along with winning and doing well, when expectations get high, student athletes have a tough time with pressure.

“When kids have injuries and come in to get treated they have stress because they want to make the coach happy but they also want to get better,” Massa said. “Football players come into me a lot and they always are stressed and want to get right back out there and play.”

Liz Ballinger takes the time at practice to help one of her players stretch. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Liz Ballinger takes the time at practice to help one of her players stretch. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Victoria Guardiola, also a 12th grader and basketball player at Everett, said that time management is huge when you play a sport.

“There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything, let alone sleep,” Guardiola said.

Assistant Principal and Football Coach at Everett Marcelle Carruthers said that if you look at what students do on the field, they are more in tune to competing, more in tune to teamwork.

“When you look at students during the school day it’s more of a gathering of friends in the hallways and then in class it’s more individual,” Carruthers said. “It goes from team, to social to individual.”

Carruthers said there is a quote he always tells his team about how everything matters. He tries to teach them that there is a balance and with everything there comes criticism and praise.

“We want them to strike a balance; a lot of athletes play on emotion,” Carruthers said. “We try to show them that they can take that emotion and passion and use it to motivate themselves on the field and in the classroom.”

Chris Kaiser, a secondary teacher preparation program coordinator at Michigan State University, said that students have to use effective time management skills to help them balance all activities. One primary way is for students to use planners and calendars to make tough decisions on what they can fit in and what they can’t. Also not waiting until the last minute to start projects and assignments is important too.

“In some instances student-athletes will have better grades than when they are not playing sports because they are worried about being eligible,” Kaiser, who also used to be a high school teacher said. “Teachers will see quite a difference in focus, efforts and accomplishments depending on whether the student is playing sports or not.”

All students cope in many different ways, according to Kaiser. Some teens can manage the stresses of high school and they can switch from activity to activity easily, while others have melt downs with sometimes the smallest change in routine.

“As an educator, you watch for those stresses that may pose to be a red flag in regards to a student’s emotional well-being,” said Kaiser.

Lane Porter, an alumnus of Everett High School who was the quarterback and now plays football at Olivet College said that for him being a student athlete wasn’t that hard and keeping up with school and football was attainable.

The girl's basketball team at Everett scrimmages each other at practice. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

The girl’s basketball team at Everett scrimmages each other at practice. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

“But you always had to check where the rest of your teammates were with their classes. Some of the best players were sometimes not the best students,” Porter said. “That’s why I wanted to be quarterback, because I was the leader and everyone followed my actions and what I did.”

Porter said it is important to set a good example as a leader because then there isn’t reason to worry about anyone making bad decisions. Everything comes down to hard work.

“If you work hard enough and have the will and determination, you can strive for greatness,” Porter said. “I was willing to take the time to workout, run or even stay after practice. Doing all of those things got me to the next level, which made all the hard work on and off of the field worth it.”

Anna Petersen, a teacher in the Lansing School District, said that she believes sports and extracurricular activities are beneficial to students in so many ways.

“As a parent, I believe that students do academically, socially, emotionally and physically better in school while participating in activities outside of school,” Petersen said.

Everett High School is located at 3900 Stabler St., Lansing. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Everett High School is located at 3900 Stabler St., Lansing. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

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