Student artists and athletes: Less ‘childish’ and more competitive

It’s 4:15 on a Monday afternoon- Captain Gabby Kim, senior, is lacing up her soccer shoes, stretching out her arms, and tying her hair up for a 2-hour varsity soccer practice. The Singaporean sun blares down on the elite bunch of 16, yet that doesn’t stop Gabby from sharing a goofy and committed practice with her team.  

Gabby Kim, far right, along with teammates Kasey Ciarletta and Kyla Jacob. Photo Courtesy from Gabby Kim.

Simultaneously, tucked away on the first floor, behind a blue and black door amongst other art students like herself, Sachi Shah, senior, meets paintbrush to paper. She begins to draw an exquisite piece for her AP 2D class, reference in hand and colorful palette in the other.

Sachi Shah, standing in front of her art work for the IN Exhibition. Photo Courtesy of Sachi Shah.

Coming from two different worlds, one of art and the other of athletics, Gabby and Sachi share the same drive and passion about their individual hobby. Each activity has influenced them in a variety of ways, making them passionate about incorporating it after high school. As first semester moves along and the college application process begins, both Gabby and Sachi excitedly prepare for life after high school, in terms of art and athletics. Yet, how much does an artist’s application for a scholarship, differ from an athlete’s, in terms of competition? Although completely different activities, the competition and ‘business’ of college recruiting between an artist and athlete is more similar than we initially think.

In today’s sports world, many young individuals are offered full athletic scholarships before they’ve even taken the SAT, or yet, danced at Prom. Despite the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s, an organization that regulates athletes of more than 1,300 institutions,  rules, a variety of college coaches strive to find 13 to 14 year old girls for their teams (Popper).

Haley Berg, a middle school graduate at the time in 2014, had already been offered soccer scholarships at the University of Colorado, Texas A&M, and the University of Texas (Popper). Just barely starting high school, Berg is a perfect example of these early college scouting tactics. In fact, the race to organize younger players has accelerated due to the shift in the “professionalization” of youth sports, and how athletic after school activities are now seen to require hardcore strength training and managers, rather than just King of the Court games and team potlucks. The idea of student athletics has overall become less ‘childish,’ and more competitive.  


Hair pulled back in a ponytail and decked out in her team jersey, Gabby talked about this competitive nature of college athletics. “I’ve went to at least 5 summer soccer camps during high school and I’ve seen how competitive soccer scouting can be,” she explained. “I watched one year at Stanford camp as girls stood on the phones with their dad’s telling them this is their time to show the coaches what they’ve got,”

While soccer has been such a big part of Gabby’s life, “college soccer takes it to another level,” she explained. “It’s a much bigger commitment compared to what I’ve been doing for the past years overseas and I’m not sure if going through the scouting process is worth it for me personally.”

“I’ve considered playing for division 2 or 3 schools just because it wouldn’t be as competitive as D1, but I would probably go to the walk on tryouts instead of actively trying to be scouted,” she said. “I still love the game, but I don’t like the idea of soccer being something I thoroughly enjoy turn into something with that much pressure.”

However, when it came to her soccer experience at SAS, Gabby explained with enthusiasm how much she enjoyed playing. “I know some people dread practice but I actually really like it, I think it’s really fun,” she shared. As this year’s team captain, she thinks back to how her older sister was also a captain, she shared “When I was an underclassmen, my sister was captain. So I kind of always looked up to her and I think she’s a great player. It’s really nice to be a role model now, and encourage other players,”

Gabby Kim with the girl’s soccer team of 2015-2016. Photo Courtesy from Gabby Kim.

However, when it comes to an artist’s perspective, is the college application or ‘recruitment’ process just as competitive? Although a completely different activity, the level of pressure and stress in an art school application is just as high. (interview with ms. harvey about application competition).

Before coming to SAS, Sachi Shah was a student at the Overseas Family School. Yet, it was the SAS visual arts program that attracted her to become an Eagle, and prompted her to move after her freshmen year. It didn’t take long for this eloquent brunette to be known amongst the SAS art community and beyond, for her distinct style in 2D and 3D art. “The resources we have are unlike any other,” she said. “We have professional studios to photograph our work, any medium or surface we want at our disposal, a network of connections, and all the inspiration we could wish for.”

Similarly to athletics recruitment for college, Sachi agreed that the application process for an art student can be a “stressful process.” “For art school, while GPA, SAT’s, recs, etc are also considered, a big emphasis is put on your portfolio,” she said.  “A portfolio consists of 12-20 of your best works and it should represent you as an artist, your ability, and your range.”

In terms of art after high school, Sachi is hoping to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts and find her “niche,” whether that might be “illustration, painting, or something else entirely.” After recently completing an internship at an art gallery, Sachi also is interested in Media and Marketing and hopes to “integrate the two disciplines.”

Sachi Shah finishes up a piece for her AP art class. Photo Courtesy from Sachi Shah.

Regardless of college decisions either individual makes about their talent, both agree that they’ve made some of the best memories, one with a soccer ball and the other a paintbrush. “Playing soccer in the rain, hanging out with teammates, [soccer practice] is just something I really look forward to,” Gabby explained. Likewise, Sachi believes, “My experience of art at SAS has spoiled me,” she began. “It’s influences the friendships I’ve chosen, subjects I study, and things that make me happy.” Thus, passion and talent are two words these girls are familiar with.


Author: Ana Chavez

Ana Chavez is a Senior and one of the co-editors of the Eye. This is her second year as a reporter, and she has been attending SAS since kindergarten. Some of her hobbies include baking cookies, organizing her room, and annoying her older brother. She can be contacted at

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