The tradeoffs of traveling: Students weigh in on the difficulties of being a student-athlete

After a long, intense field hockey, gymnastics, baseball or track event, no student-athlete is going to want to spend hours slaving over math homework or an English essay. Nevermind that they also must shower, eat and still get enough sleep to be ready for the next day at school.

Almost every high school student either plays a sport or has attended a high school sporting event. But what about the games that start too late in the evening or are 45 minutes away? Attendees might not be mandated to spectate, but student-athletes don’t get a choice. On a school night, this can mean sacrifices in other aspects of the athletes’ lives.

“When we went to Bexley, we didn’t get home until 10:30pm,” junior field hockey player Tatum Gibson said. For some, this might not seem late, but add in the homework that still needs completed and studying that has to be done, and it’s guaranteed to be a late night. “Far away games make it hard for me to do my homework and actually pay attention in class the next day because I’m so exhausted,” Gibson said.

Sometimes, student-athletes might have a rough plan in place but it will be destroyed because of outside factors. “The Liberty Freedom Relays track invitational typically runs late every year. One year, with a rain delay, I got home probably around 11 p.m. With homework to do, it was pretty stressful because I planned to get things done after the meet,” cross country and track runner and senior Lindsay Ott, said.

While other factors help drive teams schedules, Athletic Director Buck Weaver does as much as he can to keep athletes close to home and not out too late on a school night. “If we can control the scheduling for an event, we certainly keep the athletic events during the week on school nights to a distance that will allow the kids to be home close to 10 p.m. or shortly after,” Weaver said.

One thing many student-athletes often mistake is that they’re exempt from all or part of the school day if a team arrives home extraordinarily late; this isn’t the case. Weaver laid it out simply.

“There are not any rules on this; all student-athletes are expected to be in class unless the coach has coordinated a field trip in which the team is excused due to traveling to an athletic event or home from an athletic event. Getting home late the night before does not count as an excusable reason to come in late or not at all the next day.” He went even further and said, “It is always my expectation that they are in their classes the next day.”

However, while unusually far away games might make for early (and coffee requiring) mornings, the bonding teams experience traveling for their events makes up for it. “We have karaoke and usually just sing at the top of our lungs,” Gibson said of her field hockey team. Ott also has similar experiences. “Traveling to meets is always easier in general because I have teammates there who can help me pass the time and also make the travels fun!”

With many recent wins for all of Orange’s athletic teams, the program appears to be extremely successful. According to Weaver, we, “frequently get the response from opposing schools that may be closer to us that they do not want to play us.” If being successful and dominant means traveling, what’s more important to you?


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