South Speaks: Sports

By Casey Sanders

Throughout the years, the meaning of sports evolves for students. However, no matter students’ ages, sports always holds a special place in their hearts.
I’ve played sports throughout the entire year ever since middle school, and this past volleyball season has really made me realize how important the team has been throughout my high school career. From freshman year to senior year, you tend to be on the team with the same people for multiple years. You play hard during the season, hopefully play together on the off-season, and come back each year ready to do your best and try to accomplish something. This past season, we placed third in our conference. While we missed our shot at first place after a couple of key losses, it was still an extremely memorable experience playing with my team. Making crazy saves as a team, rolling over teams 3-0, or losing a game from a 24-17 lead all contribute to the experience, of being on a team since through all the ups and downs, you are always side by side with your teammates. Even during the off-season when we went off to other sports teams, my teammates and I would be excited for next year’s volleyball season and would play together on the weekends. The point is, being on a sports team goes further than the win-loss record; the connections you make with your teammates and the time you spend on the team are makeswhat make being on a sports team truly memorable. As a senior who is (hopefully) going off to college next year, I know that I won’t reminisce about staying up late to study for a test or write a paper — I’ll remember my time spent at practices and games with my teammates.
For me, it’s like the end of an era. I started playing soccer when I was about five and to know that I possibly played my last organized game ever gives me a weird feeling of emptiness that settles itself right in the pit of my stomach. During the fFall, I played soccer. That’s how it always was. In all honesty, I’m still kind of in denial about it. I know I won’t ever play another game for South, but I still feel like next fall I will find myself back on the soccer field suiting up in Rebel’s colors. Throughout high school, soccer has been a fixedset part of my life. It has been part of my identity as a Great Neck High School student. I knew that I had to be here the last week of summer for tryouts. I knew that I had less time to do homework each day because of practice. I knew that I would have to spend time running on my own to keep in shape. All of these small sacrifices were done in the name of soccer. I was glad to do them because I knew that there is no better feeling than winning a night game during playoffs with a hundred fans in the stands. I knew that it would be all worth it in the end. Now, the end has come. I never made it as far as I wanted during the playoffs or achieved all of the accolades I desired. And I know that I never will and there is nothing I can do about that. But, I have learned that I really have to play every game like it’s my last if I want to achieve my goals because the season goes much quicker than expected.
High school soccer wasn’t the beginning of my soccer career, nor will it be the end. I’ve been playing soccer since I was 5 years old, and I don’t plan on stopping ending my addiction any time soon. Although I play soccer during the entire year for multiple travel teams, my varsity soccer team holds a special place in my heart, and I never really realized my love for my school team until my senior year on the team. As a captain, I was able to influence the younger players and be a role model for my team, and I took great enjoyment in that. It was awesome to know that advice I had given a younger player would impact her their game for years to come. However, looking back at my experience, I wish I could’ve been a role model for more than one season. As a junior, I was always hesitant to speak up and give advice to others because I wasn’t the oldest on the team and I had felt that I didn’t have the authority to be a leader. This year, as one of the elders on the team, I realized that I was comfortable with my younger teammates speaking up as long as they worked hard. Despite my regret, my favorite takeaway from this sport was becoming close friends with older and younger girls whom I was able to share the field with. Most of the friends I made from playing soccer at school for four years aren’t people that I would’ve been as close with otherwise. I’m so happy I was able to experience a plethora of pasta parties, after- practice meals, and bus or/ car rides with some of the most interesting girls I’ve met. I would encourage everyone to get involved with at least one sport because the bonds you are able to make are one of a kind.
I used to think that tennis was an individual sport. That everyone played their own matches and went home. I could not have been more wrong. As I stood on the court, face to face with my opponents, I was never alone. The support from behind the fence often made me forget that I was playing by myself to begin with. When I first moved to Great Neck, tennis was the first activity I truly immersed myself in, and the friends that I made on my first day still remain to my last. Until the entire team sat with our tank tops and skirts on to cheer on a doubles team in the cold in their third set, I never understood the full scope of the dedication our entire team had for the sport. Playing competitive tennis also taught me a great deal of discipline. Remaining focused on each shot of each point of each game of each set of each match becomes very difficult very quickly. In the middle of tough matches, I have definitely calculated how much quicker a match could end if I just returned every serve into the net, or swung and missed at the ball. However, over the years I definitely learned that frustration does not help me play better. And while all you can think about is how annoying your opponent’s grunt is, or how much you want to yell at her because she keeps calling your (clearly in) shots out, winning the match is the best revenge. So thanks to my team and to Coach Tuomey and Coach Krauz for making each moment of my four 4 seasons of tennis absolutely amazing.
Over this past season I had the privilege of taking part in of the JV soccer team. In my opinion soccer is a great sport that brings people with a common goal together to unite as a single unit. Playing on a JV team for the first time really helped this come into focus effect first hand for me. When I played middle school soccer, it would just be one practice after the other, Monday through Friday. But in the high school it is much more work. This work, although tiring, really does have an impact on us, as the coaches see the potential in each of us and want us to compete to the best of our abilities. This wasn’t the only difference between middle school and high school; a big difference to me was how close you get with each of your teammates. When you are with your team, it is almost like you are family. Spending time practicing and going to games with together really created a friendship that was got shared both on and off outside the field. The type of play is different in high school also. Compared to middle school, where there were was two separate lineups , that split time between five 5 quarters of play, the high school takes a different approachh—we now play what are is considered “real” games, with two fortyfourty minute halves. It is a higher level of play than the middle school, which makes it more fun to compete with your friends and other teams and ultimately lead your team to victory. Looking back on this experience, it was my favorite sports season and I can only hope that next season will be as great.
Lauren: SOCCER
This past fall season I played for our school’s girls’ varsity soccer team. Coming from the middle school, I thought the soccer season was going to be similar to the middle school season but with scary and intimidating upperclassmen this time. I was so wrong, as the experience I had and the friends I made wereas something that I have never had before and will never forget. It’s so much more than just playing a sport, because it’s about working together and trying your best, win or lose. You become close with so many other girls in different grades, and have so many more friendly faces in the hall, which as a freshman made the transition from middle school to high school so much easier. You make such great friends and become so close with people you would have probably would have never talked to otherwise. In the middle school you just played and didn’t really interact with the girls in the grade above or below. But high school sports are so much more than just playing the game, it’s about bonding with your teammates, trying your best, encouraging each other, and making the season as memorable as can be. Don’t get me wrong, playing a sport isn’t only about socializing with your teammates, you learn so much about the sport you are playing, and the experience shapes you and changes the way you play the game for the better. You learn so much from your coach, your peers and your older teammates. Everyone wants to improve each other’s skills and encourage each other to do their best, and they all have your best interest at heart. All With all the wisdom you gain also comes with everlasting friendships and great memories that will last forever.
Playing volleyball last season, I was able to overcome my social isolation due to being a new student while being able to play an enjoyable sport. Before volleyball season started this year, I was unable to play at the same level that I’m currently able to. Also, my teammates were very supportive and maintained a constant positive attitude throughout the season. It also helped me navigate the large overwhelming building because I had to stay after school for hours on game days before the game started. In addition, I created a unique bond with my teammates that definitely boosted my social confidence at school. I always feared that sports would negatively affect my academics, which is why I was hesitant to try out for volleyball. But I still went to tryouts (and practice after I made the team), and inevitably all my grades were unaffected. Now I’m doing winter track, and in the future, lacrosse. Although volleyball isn’t considered much of a popular sport, volleyball one of the only sports that requires a significant amount of teamwork. Without your team, you can’t play volleyball; , excellent chemistry and solid trust is required at all times to create a successful team. I think that playing on the volleyball team was one of the most beneficial decisions I’ve made.
Isabelle: SWIMMING
I didn’t think my first year on the high school swim team would be this enjoyable. Besides having fun with friends at practices, the team had multiple events that brought the team closer together. To start off the season, we had a team potluck where I was introduced to the big sister/little sister tradition. The different customs of the team are is what really set apart the middle and high school teams. Overall, it was more unified as a group.
This year, we had a new coach, Jim Burns. Although he wasn’t familiar with the environment since it was his first year coaching a high school team, he did a great job of pushing everyone on the team to achieve personal records as well as long term swimming goals.
We Us freshmen had a great time learning under the sophomores, juniors, and seniors. It was fun to learn about the practices of the team. Most of them were very encouraging and lessened any unnecessary pressure. Having such positive and caring upperclassmen was what really made the experience a great one. I really do look forward to swimming with the team in future years.
Casey’s Corner
Hi everyone! My name is Casey Sanders, and I am excited to announce the beginning of my new column, South Speaks. For this edition, I talk about sports, a personally important topic for me as they have had an impact on my life and high school experience. I hope this was interesting for all of you to read! The topic of our next issue will be businesses. If you own your own business or have an idea to start one, please reach out! If you would like to be featured in the next issue or have any questions regarding it, please email me: [email protected] or message me on Facebook: Casey Hannah. Thanks for reading!