If you ask 100 students at Davis High School, "Are you on any Davis sports team?" most of them would say yes. More than 500 students participate in interscholastic sports at the Modesto high school.
Most teams practice two to three hours a day, five to six times per week, which means school athletes have less time to do schoolwork.
How do our athletes manage to perform well in both sports and school? I feel it is the drive that athletes have. The sports they want to play give them at least some incentive to do well in school. You are required to have at least a 2.0 grade point average to participate in sports, as well as other school-sanctioned events. I know many students who have a 4.0 GPA while doing three sports a year.
"Sports in Society" author Jay J. Coakley wrote, "Studies have shown consistently that when compared with students who do not play varsity sports, high school athletes, as a group, generally have better grade point averages, more positive attitudes towards school, more interest in continuing their education after graduation, and a slightly better educational achievement rate."
Studies show that learning good study habits helps student athletes on and off the field. Teaching yourself a positive work ethic and developing good work habits will help improve self-discipline. Developing self-discipline will help in improving grades as well as learning plays and remembering strategies.
Here are some steps to balance sports and grades:
1. Never spend too much time in sports. Many athletes practice all afternoon after school, every day, cutting into homework and study time. Instead of using all your time practicing, finish your homework, review the day's lessons and take another look at tomorrow's assignments to make sure you've got everything covered. Many athletes put off homework until the last minute after arriving home tired and hungry after hours of football or basketball practice. Postponing homework is the foundation for falling behind. Finish homework first thing before or after practice.
2. Always pay attention in class. Students who are involved in extracurricular activities often daydream about games or doze because of fatigue.
There is a time for everything. So during school hours, remember to focus completely on schoolwork. This will help because when doing your homework later, you'll understand it better than if you weren't paying attention in class. When at study hall, skim a lesson. When you have free time, take a few notes. You don't have to study all the time, but the more you do, the better off you'll be. You will play better knowing that your grades are going well, and your coach may be able to help get a tutor or suggest a mentor. Coaches love it when players are good students.
3. Know when to quit. This may seem harsh, but if you simply can't keep up in both sports and school, stick with school. Good-paying jobs are becoming harder to find. You need an education just about everywhere you apply. Take advantage of your education. If you do drop your sport, spend the former practice time catching up in your school work and improving your grades. You can join the team next year, or play for a community league later. You have the rest of your life to play a sport. Pursuing a high school diploma gets harder as you get older. Get it while you can.
Abel Vargas is a junior at Davis High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom Program.