The difference between middle school and high school sports

Owen Milanowski

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The difference between middle school and high school sports

School athletics is a unifying force, forging bonds between students from the common goal of being the best. The older you get, the more those bonds are challenged, and as a team, you have to overcome those challenges or be destroyed by them.  But do the challenges really get harder to overcome as you advance through your school years? What really changes when you move up to high school athletics? After all, isn’t the sport just the same? That’s what I set out to answer by interviewing freshman athletes about their experiences with sports in middle school compared to their experiences in high school athletics. The athletes I interviewed included Nathaniel Gschwind, a boys wrestler and cross country runner, Ruthann Bray, a girls JV basketball player, and Tessa Bunting, a varsity dancer.

How much harder are high school sports when compared to the same sport in middle school?

Ruthann said, “I do think that high school sports are a lot harder in general. For me, in basketball, the plays are more complicated, the drills are more challenging and you have to work hard to get playing time. You really have to be able to control the ball and be in the right spot at the right time. ”  So part of what makes high school sports more difficult is just how intensely the overall game is played and how complex practices become. Tessa added, “High school sports are much more of a commitment, and the coaches also expect more from athletes. So these are definitely quite a bit harder especially since we’re in a new school and teachers are also expect more from us.” So high school sports can also be hard because of just how much of your free time you have to dedicate to your sport. Even without having played the sports in middle school, Nathaniel still agrees that high school sports are challenging, “I do not really know how hard high school sports are compared to middle school because I have tried two new sports this year and really like them. I ran cross country, and I am wrestling right now. Both were challenging sports for me.”

Are your coaches tougher on you or more laid back?

Nathaniel believes, “My cross-country coach was super laid back. He never really got mad at anyone, and as long as we didn’t run alone, he felt we were all okay. My wrestling coaches, on the other hand, are tougher than anyone I know. They always enforce the rules and make sure we are doing everything right so nobody gets hurt.” Ruthann agreed about the tough coaching when adding, “I really love my high school coaches this year. They push each person on the team to improve from whatever skill level they came from. In general, they are definitely tougher on us, but that is what helps us bring the best out of each player.” Tessa concurred when adding, “Tougher because we have tougher competition, and they want us to get better.”

How much do the older athletes help our younger athletes to transition to the nuances of high school athletics?

Nathanial had high praise for his teammates in this area. “My older teammates are super helpful to me. They give me encouragement when I am struggling and make sure I am doing stuff right for the better.” Ruthann agrees that her teammates have had a positive impact on her game. “My teammates also help me along almost just as much as the coaches do. We have a team chat where we share film and announcements. Also, the older, more experienced players are really nice about helping me out with my post moves and shooting form during practice.”  Tessa agreed by saying, “They’ve made the transition so much smoother and easier because they know what it’s like, so they’ve been mentoring us along the way.”

Overall, high school sports are different because they have the potential of being more time-consuming, and the competition is simply more difficult. However, the benefits of working with our coaches and having fun with teammates outweigh any struggles brought on by high school sports. No matter what though, student-athletes at any level are making memories that will last a lifetime, and that is what matters most.