Freshmen find their way

Emily Pavlik, asst. sports editor

This spring, freshmen athletes have been forced to make the jump to high school sports without much time to bond. The class of 2024 slid into their shortened seasons completely unfamiliar with South’s culture and nonetheless had to find a way to win.

With only five years of volleyball experience prior to this year, freshman Ava Pratt was nervous to start at the varsity level. Jumping in with a reunited group of players intimidated Pratt who said that she originally felt out of place, but quickly began to thrive on the encouragement of her teammates. Although Pratt was a younger player on the team, the volleyball program was inclusive and, despite masks and social distancing, allowed her to enjoy some normalcy during the year.

However, being a freshman in her first year with the program, Pratt said she had no time to adjust to her new schedule.

“Balancing school volleyball, club volleyball and school was more than a challenge for me,” Pratt said. “I would go straight to school volleyball right after school and then rush to club practice after. My club is 45 minutes away so I would be getting home [around] 10:30 p.m. and not starting my homework until 11:00 p.m.”

Similarly to Pratt, freshman Claire Yum, junior varsity pom, said the amount of time dedicated to her dance team is definitely a switch from what she is used to. From competitions to performing at football games, Yum said her team relies on each other to do their very best. She added that dance becomes more of a team sport in high school which can cause a stressful environment rather than focusing on self improvment, especially during tryouts, she emphasized.

“During the first week of camp and tryouts for the team, I could tell we were all nervous,” Yum said. “I didn’t know most of the team, but as the season went on, I got to know each of the dancers. By the end of the season it felt like we were one big family.”

Being welcomed on varsity girls’ basketball was a little intimidating for freshman Chloe Gonzalez as it gave her a front row seat to the massive transition from club to South basketball. In her opinion, the program at South is much more demanding because games must go on no matter the circumstances and athletes must compete to their best ability day in and day out.

Gonzalez explained that fitting in was never a problem, as the rest of her teammates gave her a warm welcome. She said they share a bond that will last until next season rolls around.

“Everyone on the team was welcoming and were super nice,” Gonzalez said. “Once the season started, our chemistry as a team got better and better. Even with the season over, when we see each other in the hall, we’ll all say ‘hi’ [to one another].”

Dominick Johnson, a freshman baseball player on the freshman/sophomore team, is no rookie to the excitement of a season. Starting at the age of four, Johnson built a strong foundation for his baseball career at South. While playing with his South teammates, Johnson learned a deeper understanding of not only playing for himself, but being a part of a team sport. According to Johnson, self improvement comes in second to focusing on the importance of team enhancement.

Although Johnson claimed there can be some tension during the first few weeks of the season there has not been a time where he felt he did not fit in.

“[Baseball] was a good pick me up,” Johnson said. “You can go out there and be with your second family because you have gained such a good bond with your teammates.”

Through the seasonal changes of sports this year, the class of 2024 still managed to come out strong and strive through the pandemic.