The underdogs of FHC


Freshman MJ Diprés shows off his fancy footwork.

Forest Hills Central High School has always been known to have world-class athletes. Every year, some student in some sport is headed off to compete in college. FHC’s athletes are the best of the best, from seniors and all the way down to freshmen. This makes it even more impressive when younger athletes are pulled up to varsity. Even though they might not be the main focus, underclassmen play a huge role in sports at FHC, and it is an honor and privilege for any underclassmen to be on a varsity team. Let’s take a look at what it is like to play a varsity sport as an underclassman here at Forest Hills Central.

Take MJ Diprés for example. TJ is a freshman this year but playing on the boy’s varsity soccer team. For MJ, he is elated to be able to participate at this high of a level at such a young age.

“I feel very grateful to be on the varsity team as a freshman,” he replied. “Not a lot of freshmen can have an opportunity like the one I have.”

MJ is correct. It is extremely rare for freshmen to be on varsity, and sometimes even after making the team, they can feel like they are at a disadvantage. Diprés agrees that sometimes he is at a disadvantage because of his age, but then again, everyone has their strength and weaknesses, so it is not too big of a problem.

“If I am at a disadvantage I just try to play to strengths and see how far that can take me,” he says.

Being a “rookie” and playing on a veteran team is a huge honor, but it is not always sunshine and rainbows. It is clear that these younger athletes are extremely talented at their sport, but they still have to work exceptionally hard, especially if they feel like they have something to prove. Meredith Bethea is a sophomore and is in her first season playing varsity volleyball. She feels pressure to prove herself every day in practice and also in games.

Sophomore Meredith Bethea goes up for the hit.

“As an underclassman on varsity, I feel like there are very high expectations for me which also means I have to prove my spot on the team,” states Meredith.

At times, this can be very difficult, especially when things aren’t going as planned. Meredith has overcome this by becoming closer to her teammates. By doing this, she built a family within her team, so that each of the members of her team can hold each other accountable.

Playing varsity at such a young age can be extremely stressful, to say the least, but the underclassmen here at FHC embrace it and take it as an opportunity to further their skills and improve every single day. When asked about how being on varsity has helped her, Meredith answered, “Being on varsity has helped me improve in my sport by playing harder and more competitive teams that strengthen my skills as I continue to be challenged.”

In addition to helping hone their skills, being an underclassman on varsity can also be crucial for the future of the team, as it helps them learn about the value of leadership. Max Richardson, a sophomore tight end on the Ranger football team, offered his thoughts on this topic.

“I think being on varsity definitely gives way to future leadership,” he claimed. This is a great thing, as Max also added, “A player-led program will see a lot of success in the future.”

Max is very grateful for his opportunity to play on such a great squad as an underclassman. He is a vital part of the football team’s success, and he works hard every day in practice in order to make this happen. Max is clearly a talented athlete, and everybody who has ever watched a game this season can see it. However, through it all, Max stays extremely humble which is just a testament to his good character. Being an underclassman on varsity is a great feat, but to him, he’s no better than anyone else.


Sophomore Max Richardson sizes up the Byron Center defender on his way to the end zone.

“I don’t wake up in the morning thinking that I must be better than the other kids that aren’t on varsity,” Max told me.

Here in Ranger Country, being an underclassman on varsity is nothing short of great. Our underclassmen are surely bound for great things, and it is only a matter of time before we will be watching them on TV.