Upperclassmen athletes mentor young, budding students

Senior Liz Shaheen mentored freshman Emma Sampson throughout the soccer season

Lucas Johnson

Senior Liz Shaheen mentored freshman Emma Sampson throughout the soccer season

“It was really scary to start my first game; the upperclassmen were all very supportive,” senior girls varsity soccer player Elizabeth Shaheen said. Playing high school sports as a young person is extremely intimidating. Many questions go through their heads, will I make varsity? Will I start for my team? Above all, they question how the people of older
grades will react. Very often upperclassmen are thought of as hazing bullies
that prey on freshmen and sophomores, but in reality these upperclassmen are
leaders on their teams that provide crucial advice in and out of their sport.

        “I think we all definitely go beyond teammates, and we maintain our friendships throughout the entire year not just the season,” Girls Varsity Soccer team player Elizabeth Shaheen said. Shaheen’s season was brought to an early end to a torn ACL at the start of the season, and because of this she had to provide more of a leadership role off the field, “Because I didn’t play I mostly encouraged them vocally; I tried to be encouraging,” she said.  Shaheen explained how she helps underclassmen through problems in sports and in school, “Sometimes I talk [underclassmen] through things, it’s always scary to play your first game. I gave them support with that and also high school in general.”

These underclassmen are helped out a lot in sports and high school, so them being a leader is important to underclassmen. “One of the leaders I’ve had in high school is Angel Smaller, just because of how he invited me into his friend group. He hasn’t treated me differently because I’m a freshman and he’s a senior. He’s let me be who I am with him,” freshman boys basketball player Andrew Johnson explained. He explained that Smaller isn’t the only person that offers good leadership and advice:, “[Upperclassmen] all treat you the same, they’re very welcoming, and they’re all very competitive, it’s very fun to be around them,” he said. Before the season started, Johnson and other freshmen attended open gym sessions. Johnson explained the intimidation factor of having to play with all levels of players; “A few times in the open gyms I’ve gotten to play with the varsity players. It was daunting to play with them because they’re stronger and bigger than me. But they were always supportive.”

When people of every grade answer the question: “What was your scariest moment in your sport as a freshman?” they all answer the same: playing their first game. But never had they answered with saying that upperclassmen made fun of them or were intimidating, they responded with saying that they received an incredible amount support and advice. Being an upperclassmen in sports isn’t about keeping away from the people who are small and less experienced than them, it is about making the younger players feel comfortable and giving them someone to look up to when they need advice for playing well or help with work in school. Upperclassmen have stepped into this role perfectly and are becoming amazing leaders and friends for the new players on their teams.