High School Athletes Discuss Involvement at Manitou

Aubrey Hall, Student Life Editor

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Anela Wright (12) knows that it can be hard for freshmen when they don't get a varsity position right away, but encourages them not to give up. After practicing and trying out for the cheerleading team again, she was immediately put into varsity.

Athletics have been a keystone of the American high school experience for decades, and every year it becomes a more competitive endeavor for students to undertake. Additionally, for athletes who meet a certain performance standard, sports can be a vital source of financial aid, with US colleges awarding three billion dollars in athletic scholarship money in 2015 alone. These statistics can make it seem as if the only viable option for athletes entering the high school arena is to become involved in and dominate a sport immediately upon their arrival. However, as some athletes at Manitou Springs High School state, it’s important not to lose oneself in the competitive aspect of high school sports.

Anela Wright is a senior on Manitou’s varsity cheer team this year, and wants to encourage freshmen who don’t make varsity right away not to feel discouraged. “I was told I wasn’t good enough the first time I tried out,” she said, “After getting some help and working on my weak spots, I got onto the varsity team immediately. I was welcomed in and became a part of a whole new family.”

This is a sentiment echoed by other varsity athletes alike, including Alliah Halcomb (12), one of this season’s captains of the varsity boys soccer team. Halcomb did not become involved with the team until his junior year, and said that though it’s never too late to join a team, he should have gotten involved earlier. “If I could go back and play earlier I would. It’s best to get involved early even if you think you’re not gonna be the best, or you’re just going to sit the bench,” he said.

Another positive aspect of getting involved in athletics, regardless of skill level, is forming relationships with coaches, according to Matt Vanderwerff (11), who plays wide receiver and linebacker on the varsity football team. “My relationships with the coaches are great,” he said, “Coach Archuletta is a great encourager and a great person to talk to and Coach DeMatto has been there for me since 7th grade and has always been a great person to come to with any issues.”

Halcomb states that this is equally true of the varsity soccer head coach, Benjamin Mack. “I’ve always had a great relationship with Mack. It’s hard not to have a good relationship with him, but since then it’s just gotten better,” Halcomb said, “I feel like now he trusts me, along with the other captains, with any advice on the field.”

A common thematic thread among all three athletes is their emphasis on teamwork. As Wright states of the cheer team, “This season we are focusing less on winning and more of being a team. […] I want the team to not be caught up on the routines and more focusing on what cheer exactly means. I have never felt more accepted and loved in a sport as I already do this season, and I want the girls to understand that we aren’t just a team, we are a family.”

Both Halcomb and Vanderwerff have recommendations for prime times to see that teamwork in action this season. While Vanderwerff said that the must-see game of the season for football is the one against St. Mary’s high school on September 1, Halcomb recommends that freshmen come see both the game before the homecoming bonfire and the game against CSCS.

Regardless of whether incoming freshmen are themselves participating in a sport, Vanderwerff said it’s important to be active in other ways as well. “You’re only in high school once,” he said, “Make it to every football game possible and absorb the high school experience because you can’t go back. Get involved and stay busy and involved in the school as much as possible.”

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High School Athletes Discuss Involvement at Manitou