Each and every athlete that makes Varsity deserves it; they work hard and put in 110% at every meet, game, and tournament. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that it is hard to get on a Varsity team. But what is it that motivates these athletes to do so? Is it pure dedication and love for the game or is it the desperation for the notoriety that comes with being a member of one of our Varsity teams?
We all know who the varsity athletes are, they are the ones who strut around flexing their red bags and the ones we support during IASAS. They are the “popular” people, at least here at SAS. We can’t deny it, we all secretly want that red bag. Still, this causes me to wonder: are the red bags and the clout the primary inspirations that lead SAS students to seek out this coveted varsity position?
What the athletes have to say
Serra Pizano has been playing soccer since she was eight years old. Her entire family is dedicated to the sport and her brother attends NYU and plays for their division 3 mens team. Her love for the sport drove her to not only score goals for our SAS eagles but to also play for several clubs outside of school including: Warriors, and Coerver. Her love for the sport grew as she did, and now she is hoping to get a soccer scholarship to her choice of universities. Serra is competitive and always strives for perfection, she trains at least once every day and hopes to continue doing this well into the future. Although she values her teammates indescribably, she does not play soccer for the social aspect, she plays to become a faster, stronger and more successful athlete.
“We do it because no matter how hard it is, or how much pain we are in, it’s the bond that brings us together.”Grazzia Bhatia
Many athletes play for the love of the sport and part of playing a sport is setting goals to improve. Mikey Mirabelli has been playing Rugby since he was eight years old. Despite starting at a young age, Mikey had not yet reached his full potential by the time freshman year came around, so he started on JV Rugby. Although this was not ideal for Mikey, he says that “starting on JV only left room for me to improve and become even stronger as an athlete and a person.” He had a goal to make it to Varsity and play at a higher level and in his Junior year at SAS he tried out for Varsity and successfully made it. He had reached his short term goal! Not only does Mikey play for our Eagles, but he also plays outside of school for the Bucks Rugby Club. He hopes to continue playing this intense sport long after he graduates from SAS. Mikey may have had the goal to be on varsity, and that may have made him strive for excellence, but regardless, he is passionate about the sport. Like many of these profiles, this is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a tenure on a high school athletic team; Mikey”s love of Rugby will not end at SAS: “I want to play rugby through university, and long after. I want to teach my child to play so he can grow up loving the same sport I did.”
What does it take?
I asked Grazzia Bhatia our very own varsity girls soccer goal keeper what a day in her life looked like in first season and here is what she had to say. “I wake up at 6:30 every day unless I have morning practice in which case I would wake up at 4:30, I make myself a smoothie which consists of kale, blueberries, banana, protein powder and coconut milk, then I go to school.” Her diet is fairly strict, when in season she needs to cut down on unhealthy foods such as chips, chocolates, processed sugars. This is to ensure that she will be fuelled with natural energy and not artificial energy. In the afternoon almost every day she has afternoon training from 4:15 to 6:00 and on some days she has club training afterwards. Yet she still makes time for schoolwork, friends, and family.
It is clear to see that there is more to being a varsity athlete than meets the eye. We see these athletes during games, meets, and competition but we do not see the work that they put into training both in school and out of school.
The question remains, What is it that motivates these athletes to wake up at ungodly hours of the morning? What compels them to excessively train six times a week? According to Grazzia Bhatia, SAS’s Varsity girls soccer goalie, “We do it because no matter how hard it is, or how much pain we are in, it’s the bond that brings us together. Knowing that you are doing this with a team that loves and supports you is truly magical and I could not ask for a better team.” Each and every athlete that I have talked to has said something along those lines. So why we onlookers may be guilty of assuming other intentions, it is clear that none of these talented athletes do it for the status (or the red bag). Their love for the sports they play goes deeper than the superficial aspect of being popular, or fit. It is the social aspect, the family feeling you get when you are part of a team, it is wanting to be successful and move up to a higher level and always be improving, It’s the dream of teaching your child the sport you grew up loving. Whatever the case, sports clearly have a special place in many peoples hearts, and regardless of why, it takes dedication to put in the amount of work and effort varsity athletes do.