This winter season, select varsity sports teams including boys wrestling, girls soccer and boys soccer have added many freshman athletes to their rosters due to difficulty finding and recruiting qualified upperclassmen players. Varsity teams are usually comprised of seniors, juniors and occasionally a few select sophomores.
The freshman varsity experience is not common in public schools, but according to freshman soccer player Kerawin Heaney, the upperclassmen have kindly gone the extra mile to make freshmen athletes feel welcome. “All the upperclassmen are very supportive of us, and we really feel like part of the team,” Heaney said.
Heaney has played soccer all her life and transitioned smoothly to playing varsity for the first time this season. She currently plays on the girls varsity soccer team, which has had relative success over the past few years. “I’ve played soccer since I was really little, and now I play for Palo Alto Club Soccer,” she said.
Playing club soccer all year round for a local team is one way that varsity athletes stay healthy and fit during the school off-season. “It’s always important to eat healthy and stay in shape especially if you play a sport,” Heaney said. “Also, most of the varsity team plays soccer for the rest of the year on club teams.”
For any freshmen looking to potentially join a varsity sport this spring, Heaney shared a few words of wisdom regarding what differences and challenges to expect.“[While] practicing and playing with [varsity] has definitely increased my speed of play and intensity level, there are definitely higher expectations on varsity and the intensity level is several notches higher” she said. “If you are looking to come back to soccer, junior varsity (JV) is a great way to do that and I guarantee it will be really fun. JV is currently recruiting.”
According to Heaney, upperclassmen athletes always push her to try something new, making practices and games with them an educational experience.
When Heaney first joined the team, she didn’t expect to get equal playing time and treatment during games as upperclassmen, many of whom are more experienced with competing in higher pressure environments especially during high-leverage moments. “At first I thought that I would get no playing time, but I do,” Heaney said.
She and seven other freshmen on the team of seventeen players have helped achieve the team’s 5-4-3 record so far. The girls varsity soccer team will round out their season with matches against Monta Vista, Lynbrook, Fremont, Milpitas, Cupertino and Wilcox, who they most recently beat 2-0 on Wednesday, Jan. 24.
-Written by Sophia Siegel