When senioritis hits the track: Losing motivation

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As graduation draws nearer I’ve found myself lacking the motivation to perform in athletics as well as academics.

Second-semester senior year is the time of year when senioritis sets in and the slacking begins. For the first three and a half years at Palo Alto High School,  I thought that senioritis only referred to academics (less work and motivation, more time for sports and friends).

But now that the time has come, I have experienced the darker side of senoritis.

Senioritis affects more than just the academic front of school. Contrary to what may be expected, this phenomenon is just as contagious and debilitating in the field of athletics.

Assuming you are not going to be playing sports at the collegiate level next year like most Paly athletes, including myself, you start to realize that what you do on a Paly team ultimately means nothing. Moreover, there isn’t even the fear of being rescinded for not performing well enough, like there is with school work.

Every year there is an excited new class of freshmen ready to try their best in Paly athletics, yet as they progress through their years in school, one after another quits, until only the most dedicated and talented remain. Even though it makes sense that over time people quit their sports to pursue other interests or focus on academics, I find quitting dejecting. As a current Paly athlete, and more importantly one who seriously considered quitting, I feel a lot of seniors need to change their perspective about the sport they play or played.

I started track as a freshman, unaffected by this pattern. As I began to make friendships within the team, I also started to develop a love for the sport, as well as a commitment to the team. Even in a sport as individual as track, I found that part of what makes sports rewarding is the way it brings people together. I continued to enjoy my time on the track as the years past, and as it continued to grow on me, it became part of who I was. But when people started to quit, the environment I had grown to love all started to change.

My former teammate Charlie Kelsey (‘12), explained what goes through the minds of those who quit.

“At a certain point, you need to evaluate your reasons for doing something just because you have done it for a long time,” Kelsey said.

For many of my teammates, the realization hit them that there is no future in track for them beyond high school and did the seemingly practical thing, which was to quit. At a certain point I noticed that as more of my teammates quit, not only did I enjoy my time at the track less, but I also grew less fond of the sport. I even contemplated my reasons for staying: If I am not going to run in college, what reason do I really have to stay? For a long time this semester I thought about what I was getting out of my sport and what I was putting in. Through this introspection I made a lot of realizations about myself and about sports as a whole.

I started to recognize that I may not owe it the people around me to continue or even the coaches who have worked hard to shape me over the past years, but I owe it to myself.

I thought back to the kid I was before I knew where I was going to college, back to the kid whose identity involved his sport. Then I thought how much less a part of my life sports would be in college. This last track season was my final shot at seeing what I could really do; it was a final stand of sorts.

Furthermore, quitting my sport would be throwing away a huge part of who I am.  This is not to suggest that you should continue doing an activity you truly hate. However, even if something isn’t going to be part of your future, you can still make it part of your present.  It is important to cherish the remaining time you do have playing sports with your friends in high school, (not to mention representing your school, Go Paly!), regardless of what the future may hold for that sport.

Not everyone can be a collegiate athlete, so it is only natural that gradually people will have to give up their sport. One can only hope that when the decision finally comes to hang up the towel, you do it for the right reasons.