Volleyball Players Balance Sports and School

Bill Bowser

Senior Lizzie Ko, junior Abby Guimond and senior Ashantai Hale-Sandifer prepare for an incoming serve. All are returning players from last season. Photo Credit / Bill Bowser

Fall at Loy Norrix is the one of the best times for sports. Football games fill the stands with excited students and faculty. Men’s soccer players run up and down the field tirelessly in the beating sun and the volleyball team continuously spike their way to victory.
The volleyball team, both varsity and junior varsity, began practicing this July in preparation for the rigors of the season.
“We play to win, but also because we love the sport,” said sophomore Aria Kleber, a second year Norrix volleyball player and member of the women’s junior varsity team. “We have time before practice to study, but on game day we have less time, so you have to fit it in somewhere.”
Attending practice while still having time to do homework is the biggest challenge any student athlete faces. A 2014 survey of one thousand K-12 teachers by US News showed that the average amount of homework given each week is 3.5 hours. For students with five different classes a day, this can mean up to 17.5 hours of homework. It’s no small feat balancing out this workload and a two hour a day practice, not to mention occasionally traveling hours away for a game. 
Players also have to adhere to the many requirements of Norrix athletes. School is the biggest challenge players overcome in order to play volleyball.
“It was hard work, you put in a lot and you get no weekends off,” recalled sophomore Rebecca Thompson, a former Norrix player.
Thompson stopped playing after last year’s season due to practicing 10 hours a week and  requirements that needed to be met for the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center (KAMSC), an advanced math and science program that she attends. KAMSC students adhere to a greater workload than their peers in public schools typically do.
“I weighed my options and school seemed more important than volleyball,” said Thompson.
It can be difficult to know when to be a volleyball player and when to be a student.
“I can really over stress myself,” explained senior Lizzie Ko, captain of the women’s varsity team. Ko explained how it is necessary to know how and when to differentiate between school and practice.
“Time management is important. You’re a student first, practice is only two hours a day,” commented senior Ashantai Hale-Sandifer, a senior varsity player.
“When you’re on the court, you have to focus on only what’s between the courtlines,” Kleber explained further.
Despite these challenges, the volleyball players continue to put forth their best effort in both practice and in games, learning to cope with their commitments to both school and volleyball. The team’s final record is 18 wins, 20 losses, and 3 ties.