Why play: fulfillment powers sport participation



Although playing a sport in high school is time consuming and difficult, CHS students feel that the beneficial effects it has on mental health makes it all worth it.

Zaina Saif

Despite the lack of organized sports teams at CHS, many students continue to participate in the sports they’re passionate about outside of school.

In fact, several CHS students have been involved in their sport for over ten years, a rarity in the United States.

According to the LA Times, 70% of children quit organized sports by age 13. However, children who choose to stick with their sport do so for various reasons, including college applications, scholarship opportunities, physical fitness and pressure from parents.

Senior Aydin Gurudutt of Marlboro, who has been swimming competitively since the age of six, explains how swimming has become a part of his daily routine.

“Through middle school and high school I had already been swimming for around five or six years. It was already a big part of my life and this sport I dedicated myself to,” Gurudutt said.

Gurudutt emphasizes that getting better at swimming has been what has motivated him the most to continue. Similarly, junior Mary Jodry of Neptune City has been dancing for 14 years and describes her sport as a “ladder of accomplishments.”

“I left dance for a while but I went back to it because, as much as it is painful sometimes, it’s very reassuring when you’re able to do something that gives you a lot of goals to work towards,’’ Jodry said.

Although the feeling of accomplishment is what drives many athletes, another major factor is the stress relief that sports bring. Many high school students find it challenging to balance their rigorous schedules with the responsibilities that come with playing sports. But, CHS students provide a different perspective to the conventional student-athlete’s mindset.

“[Swimming] is extremely hard and it’s extremely time consuming but I still love it nonetheless,” Gurudutt said. “Getting to see my friends and getting a break from things I have to deal with at home and school is quite nice.”

Junior Grace Wartmann of Eatontown started figure skating at 3 years old and stuck with it because she saw skating as a unique sport that few people around her were doing.

She explains that although skating helps her to blow off steam on bad days, there are self-esteem concerns that come with the competitiveness of her sport.

“When you compete against other people and you feel like you didn’t do your best, you just start getting into that mentality of comparing yourself to other people,” Wartmann said.

Athletes at CHS are familiar with the struggles of staying motivated, especially if they have to commute back to their home school or can no longer afford to devote long hours of their day to sports. As many CHS students take on after school jobs, finding time to fit sports into their schedules becomes even more challenging.

Regardless of all the challenges that arise with sports in high school, CHS students continue to motivate themselves to keep going.

“I definitely think that as you get older, everyone can kind of agree that you tend to lose that motivation you originally had for your sport because your priorities change,” Wartmann said. “But I do it because skating gives my life more structure and responsibility all while being rewarding to my mental health.”