A Part of the Team: The Importance of Freshmen Playing Sports

Have you ever been new to something? For many freshmen, their first experience with the GDS high school is through pre-season sports. Through team events, icebreakers, and competitions, sports can help new high school students acclimate to the high school environment. During pre-season, freshmen have the opportunity to meet sophomores, upperclassmen, and faculty. These outlets can provide much-needed support for the first few hectic weeks of high school, while students get adjusted to the new academic space. By being a part of GDS sports teams, freshmen can be a part of various communities that value competition, respect, and collaboration.

Freshman Shai Dweck said that he chose to run cross-country this fall because he thought it had a positive reputation at GDS.

“I was looking for a change of pace,” said Dweck.

Dweck said that he was drawn to the sport due to the support provided by other teammates and coaches. Additionally, Dweck said that the preseason was challenging. He explained how the cross-country team had two runs on some days, which helped him prepare for challenging runs later in the season.

Dweck also said that meeting upperclassmen helped him acclimate to the high school. On the topic of improvement, Dweck said, “This is my first season of running and I have made a huge leap from nothing to something.”

Freshman Max Burns, a member of the men’s junior varsity soccer team, expressed that he continued playing soccer at the high school level “out of the love for the game.” Burns additionally mentioned that he was introduced to the high school soccer team through an athletic day at the lower school. During the lower school athletic day, he met coaches and learned about the program.

“The upperclassmen were friendly, but not coming to me with support,” Burns said. “At the beginning of the season, my skills were weak, but now they are strong and disciplined.”

Freshman Joyce Simmons, a member of the women’s varsity soccer team, said that her older brother, sophomore Alistair Simmons, introduced her to GDS’s soccer program.

Freshmen Iman Dorman and Noura Angulo, two players for the women’s junior varsity soccer team, said they had been previously introduced to the program in the middle school. Simmons said that the preseason for the soccer team was the same as the men’s team: they had tryouts the first week, and practices with their separate teams the next. Both Dorman and Simmons said that the upperclassmen were tremendously friendly to them.

“They’re so welcoming, and I love them,” Simmons said.

On the topic of junior varsity progress, Angulo said, “We’ve had a lot of injuries so it’s been hard for us to learn how to work together as a team.”

Dorman said that she feels that the junior varsity team is not particularly close, but, as the season has gone on, the team learned how to better handle adversity.

Lastly, freshmen Claire Cooper and Emma Gillespie, varsity volleyball players, said they found out about the team through volleyball clinics run by the high school coaches. Cooper said that during preseason there were tryouts and the drills were not position specific.

After tryouts, the varsity and junior varsity teams were separated. On the topic of growth, Gillespie said, “At the beginning of the season we had to start from scratch with rotations. We had so many new people and a lot of players graduated.”

They also said that as a team, varsity volleyball works very well together because they “clicked together.” Additionally, the two volleyball players talked about how there are no sophomores on their team, so there are more opportunities for freshmen to play in games.

Overall, freshmen have had positive experiences in sports and have felt that they have been accepted by their teammates. Sports have also helped freshmen acclimate to the high school environment.

“I’ve really enjoyed cross country because I feel that I’m accepted and an active part of the team,” Dweck said.

By Seth Riker ’22