The Hidden Athletes of Our School

Ajay Allman, Staff Reporter

Our school is home to many student-athletes and even more student support. Those who compete in school sports are often put in the spotlight. However, Yorktown is also brimming with talented students who do out-of-school sports, and these students’ commitment often goes unrecognized.

 Gymnast and senior Megan Dooley practices and competes outside of school on The Arlington Aerials, a local women’s competitive gymnastics team. With a rigorous practice schedule, Dooley rarely catches a break. 

“I practice five to six times a week. It depends if we have a competition that week, because then it’s usually six. Practices start at 4 and end at 8,” Dooley said.

Dooley exemplifies the unseen dedication that out-of-school student-athletes have. Sports in general have demanding practice schedules, but out-of-school sports aren’t given the same respect as their in-school counterparts. Additionally, sports like gymnastics differ from other well-known sports like football or basketball, which are played in specific seasons. Year-round out-of-school sports bring about a unique difficulty for those who practice them. 

Affected by the lack of an off-season, synchronized swimmer senior Theresa Provasnik finds it taxing to manage school and her sport. 

“Because the season is all year, there is no time that [students] can use to focus on school. The pressures of balancing school and a sport are never paused. Finding time and energy to do work and go to practice is the hardest thing,” Provasnik said. 

Because there is not as much focus on out-of-school sports like synchronized swimming, not many know their multi-layered complexities.

“Synchronized swimming is actually a very intense sport. You need flexibility and strength to stay above water and you have to hold your breath when you’re underwater,” Provasnik said. 

In addition to how physically draining these sports are, athletes face another obstacle due to out-of-school sports being non-school specific. 

“Since our team all go to different schools, are in varying grades, and take different courses, when people miss practice for school, [missed practices] don’t line up. Since it’s a team sport, it is difficult to practice routines with team members missing,” Provasnik said.

This problem can also be applied to other out-of-school team sports, such as ballet. Sophomore Sonia Bass dances ballet at the Virginia Dance Conservatory. Although our school has a dance team, she notices a lack of student support for her dance style.

“I feel like there could be more of a focus on ballet. Also, there are many types of dance, so there should be more hype for them,” Bass said.

Because there is a focus on in-school sports, our school’s football games and basketball games are packed year after year. However, out-of-school athletes miss out on this attention and motivation from peers, which can be detrimental to their performance. 

In general, there is a lack of knowledge regarding out-of-school sports. While our community may hear more about in-school athletes, there should be no deficit of support when it comes to hardworking students who play sports outside of school. Whether it be gymnastics or ballet, these students put an incredible amount of effort into their sports and the additional complexities that come with them. Their hard work deserves to be highlighted.