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Finding the Right Balance

Meggen Keller laces up her cleats, puts on her padding and dusts off her bat. Lauren Hagerman puts on her tennis shoes, grabs her racket and applies a think coat of sunscreen. Meilin Sullivan doesn’t put on shoes. Instead, she covers her rips and puts chalk on her hands.

All these students have different stories but are all related by one subject: the passion they have for their sport.

There are many athletes at South. With spending so much time participating in their sport, these students have to learn how to balance the time they dedicate to their sport while also having time for their school work.

These students spend hours of their time playing their sport. Sullivan is a gymnast and spends up to 25 hours a week at her gym.

“It has become my second home,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan’s school day is shorter. Every day she leaves school after third block in order to get to practice. For her to obtain all her high school credits she has to take virtual classes in the summer. Her dedication to gymnastics has even earned her a full ride scholarship to the University of Nebraska.

“Honestly, sports is what is going to pay for my school,” said Sullivan.

Most of these students have to try to get their homework done any free time they have. Keller said she tries to finish it during class or in tutorial, any way that prevents her from having to finish it after practice. Their school work can even decrease the amount of sleep that they get that night.

“When I don’t finish my homework during class I stay up late to finish it. Then I would get less sleep and be tired at school. If I fall asleep during school then I would get behind,” said senior Taylor Johnson.

Keller plays softball for both the high school team and on a competition team. This causes her to miss about six days out of the year for tournaments on the weekends. Lucky for her, Keller said, her teachers are flexible when it comes to her schedule.

“I’ve had to miss school for both the high school team and my competition team. A lot of the tournaments we play in are out of State. Every year the Joplin tournament causes me to miss part of Thursday and all day Friday. Trying to catch up on all that work is hard. This year, I struggled with Algebra 1B. I couldn’t understand any of the word problems. Even the people on my team couldn’t figure it out!” said Keller.

Balancing time between their school work and their sport can be quite stressful. Hagerman participates in both tennis and track. She can vividly remember a time where she had a lot of stress.

“My last track meet was very stressful because it was conferences. The meet lasted until 8 p.m. and I still hadn’t finished any of my homework. I was so stressed on how it would affect my grade,” said Hagerman.

However, no matter how important their sport may be to them, all these students value school more.

Johnson said, “School will take me farther than sports every will.”

Keller also realizes how important her education is.

“I value school more because is going to affect the next 40 years of my life, whereas with sports there is a small chance that you will go past high school or college. It’s not going to be my career,” said Keller.

When they get home they take off their uniforms. Put away their cleats, rackets, balls and grips. They take out their pencils and open up their books to work towards their future.