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Show up for SHP Sports

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As we head into the 2023-24 school year, it’s crucial that we don’t forget a core part of life at SHP–sports! Sports teams are off to a great start this year, with girls’ volleyball winning critical home games, boys’ football beating Cathedral, and girls’ water polo winning the St. Francis Invitational!

Athletics are a huge part of what it means to be an SHP student. From the constant conversations about football’s upcoming game or volleyball’s big win, to actually participating in such games, sports are central to the Sacred Heart experience. As the Assistant Principal of Athletics Jason Armstrong said, “When you have close to 80% of your student body participating in a sport, that goes to show the enthusiasm that there is surrounding sports.” The majority of students, right after the last bell rings at 3:15 p.m., head to their locker rooms to get changed for practice. Athletes give their all for seven hours of school, then head out to the field, pool, gym, track, or other space to put the work in for practice–just before returning home late and rushing to complete homework in time to get enough sleep for the next day. It’s exhausting, but us athletes do it because we have a real passion for the sports we play. We do it because of our commitments to our teammates. Our teammates inspire us to show up at practice each and every day and push us to be the best athletes and people we can be.

While our commitments to our teammates are incredibly important, we need to shift our mindset and expand our understanding of “teammates” to all of our fellow student-athletes. We all work hard, whether it’s in the classroom or in our after-school activities, and we deserve to be supported by our peers. We need to show up for one another by attending sports games, and cheering each other on as we work hard to win the games and championships that we practice every day in preparation for. 

It’s no surprise that having fans in the stands hugely influences the energy of games. Ask any athlete at SHP and they probably have a story about how fans saved a game. For instance, following SHP’s epic victory against the Cathedral football team, Coach Armstrong claimed, “If you asked any boys football player, the crowd over the weekend, if that played a role in how they played, I would say 100% of them would say yes.” Augie Harris, a senior on the football team, agreed, claiming, “This year the student section has been a big motivator in a lot of our games, and the energy they bring translates to big plays on the field.” Having an energetic crowd undoubtedly affects the flow of games by elevating the energy of the players. Tyler Hogan, a senior on the boys’ water polo team, spoke of another big moment. “Two years ago, when we were playing Mater Dei in North-South, the crowd was amazing…we won by one, and it was because of the crowd.” Crowds have incredible power in big games. And, looking forward to new teams like girls’ flag football, crowds can encourage them as they find their way as a group. Isa Casares, a sophomore on flag football, said, “At a game, it would definitely be good positive reinforcement if we had fans there and it would be motivation to win.” Of course, athletes are always playing to win, but having crowds there cheering on their every move raises the stakes and adds an extra push. They can sway the outcome of the game by encouraging athletes, whether they’re winning or losing. They bring good energy, even when the athletes are down on themselves. As Ellie Wheeler, a senior on the volleyball team, put it: “We’re supposed to have our own good energy, but it also does affect us, and when there’s a lot of hype it does help us play better because good vibes are contagious.” Sometimes when a team isn’t playing well, it’s difficult to find the energy and motivation to keep working, and crowds can bring that energy themselves.

Getting to games can be tough. Sacred Heart students do so many things such as schoolwork, clubs, sports, and work. As Coach Armstrong put it, “The biggest limitation is, we’re always busy.” Of course, we all have priorities, and it’s understandable if some of our focuses come before attending sports games. However, when time permits, we need to show up for one another. Tyler Hogan said, “Being a student-athlete, being a student comes first, so I try to balance that out, but when I have time, I love going to the volleyball games, the girls’ water polo games.” We must prioritize our academics, but try to be at games when we can. If we expect others to show up for us, we must show up for them. As Girls Athletics Director Dawn Hemm put it, “It’s important that [the attendance] comes from the students themselves and they support each other.” Even if we can’t make it to every game, we want to be able to show up for each others’ big games.

Of course, at SHP, we love to win. And if showing up for one another’s games increases the energy, and therefore the likelihood of winning, why wouldn’t we try to support each other? If you can’t make it to every game, ask your friends when their big games are, so you’re showing up when it counts. Try to show up for a wide variety of teams, not just the ones you’ve watched in the past. Who knows, you might just find your new favorite sport to watch, or even feel inspired to try out for the team next year!

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