Kids Under Pressure: The Power of Sports

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 9:01 AM CDT
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NEW AUBURN, Wis. (WEAU) - For decades, high-school students have been able to rely on sports as social outlet. The relationships built with classmates during practice and competition is something that can’t be replicated, but can be taken away. The 2020-2021 school year threatened to do just that. However, some school districts and student-athletes across the state have made sacrifices to keep athletics alive.

That doesn’t mean the stress surrounding the uncertainly has been easy to handle.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t really think we were going to have a basketball season,” said New Auburn Senior basketball stand-out, Tristen Harter.

New Auburn High School was one of the dozens of schools state-wide that encountered challenges with their winter season.

NAHS Teacher and Head Basketball Coach, Keenan Dahl, explained, “We had a schoolwide shut down and weren’t allowed to start practicing.”

The delay brought despairing thoughts and doubt to players and the coaching staff.

“I was very sad and I wanted to go get in the gym as soon as I could,” Triton Robey, Junior at New Auburn High School, said.

In early January, the school gave the team the green light and they were able to start practicing and play games. Masks were required and practices were a little shorter than average, but the team adjusted well. As the season started, the positive mental and physical change in players was obvious.

“It was really important we play because they were the only guys my age that I got to see consistently and it was really fun to connect with them and to have people to talk to and to hang out with,” Harter added.

State-wide there is a renewed importance of being a teammate. Student-athletes are able to lean on each other during a school-year that has been incredibly difficult.

Matt Elmhorst, Junior at New Auburn High School, said, “You can celebrate together, and learn to deal with the defeat together. It’s a lot of stress especially with school, but with friends it makes it easier.”

To get a better idea of the struggles students are currently facing, NBC News released results of a survey involving 10,000 students.

47% report a decrease in strength of their relationships with peers, and 83% of students report having at least one stress-related physical health symptom.

For some schools in Wisconsin, one step towards easing the burden on students, is sports.

Tristan Harter said, “It’s hard when you don’t have as much social interaction and you have so many more rules you have to follow. It’s a lot more stressful and difficult. Basketball helps.”

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