By Oguljennet Kurbandurdyyeva
Most high school student athletes compete as part of the school team, or in different leagues. Sometimes the students who play for school teams are genuinely passionate about that sport, but they can also be motivated to join primarily for the chance to add school sports to their extracurricular transcript for colleges. But no matter why students may choose to participate in scholastic sports, they soon learn that balancing academic work with the demands of being a student athlete is not an easy job. Every year before we start the official game season, our soccer coach Ms. Valentin says: “First, be a student. Then be an athlete.” This means you cannot have bad grades and play on the team. You cannot be absent more than three times and play on the team. You also cannot play or train without written medical permission. It’s also not so easy to join a team. You have to try out, and then follow all the rules.
I now consider my team, the MCSM Girls Varsity Soccer Team, to be like family. Since I and Keidy Matos became co-captains for the 2015-2016 soccer season, all the responsibilities of the previous season’s captain (Daniella Ponce), are on our shoulders now. Our number #1 rule on the team is to respect each other, no matter what. You can be the captain, a rookie, or even a great player, it doesn’t matter because you treat each other as equals. You have to respect your teammates, your coach, the ref and all the opponent players. You should not curse during games or training. If your opponent gets injured during the game, you have to kneel when she leaves the field. If the ref makes a bad call, never curse or talk back to him or her. Be and act professional, because at the end of the day, it’s just a game.
But you should know that playing team soccer is not only about rules. As a team we go out for brunch or dinner. We talk about our upcoming games. We laugh about funny things that happened during training practice or games. We help each other with our homework or tests. Sometimes we also meet with each other individually to work on specific skills. There are always ups and downs in life, and as I said before, your team becomes part of your family. So if your teammate is not happy then you must do your best to make her happy because her unhappiness can have a negative impact on a game. During competition an unhappy teammate might play badly, or she might say bad things to the ref, or to other players. That’s why staying happy is very important to the members my team.
Soccer is a very tough sport. It requires you to run a lot, which means you need to stay fit. If you want to play soccer, you should run at least two laps each day, and work on your stamina. Instead of eating a lot of sweets and “carbs,”an athlete usually tries to eat more protein. Remember that if you don’t train for two weeks, you will probably gain weight and lose muscle. I suggest that you start every day by eating a good breakfast. You should also try to eat more fruits and vegetables, but if you don’t like to eat them, make sure to take multivitamins. Your body needs balanced nutrition. Finally, you should try to stay away from fried things. If you love fried foods (like potato chips or chicken!) then try to switch to eating them baked instead.
I encourage all girls to join some kind of sports team. If you choose the soccer team I can guarantee you that you will experience a lot of positive things that will benefit you in the future. You don’t have to start out being a great player…because that’s why we train, to get better. Trying to play a sport is better than not doing anything at all. And who knows, maybe one day you will find yourself playing professionally for a national team!