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Balancing School, Friends, and Sports: A Teenage Athlete On Fitting It All In

Balancing life with time spent in practice, at games, and traveling to and from events and competitions isn’t easy for a teenage athlete. But, because I want to be a well-rounded person and not just a great athlete, I do all that I can to ensure that my entire life doesn’t revolve around my football and basketball games.

How I Balance Friends, School, and Sports:

1. I hang out with friends as often as I can.

While I’ve made good friends in sports and at school, most of my friends are from my neighborhood, and we all go to different schools and have different interests. When I hang out with them, we talk about things besides sports and schoolwork. My time with them is relaxing and fun, and we don’t have any pressure, like trying to win the next tournament. We’ll order a pizza and eat it in my neighbor’s rec room.

2. I watch some TV or play a video game.

After school, on days I don’t have practice, I’ll spend 30 minutes to an hour watching TV or playing a video game. I think this clears my mind and allows me to concentrate later on homework. I like to use some of my free time just for myself, and I just need this time alone to think through things.

3. I focus on making good grades.

I do my homework and study for tests. When I have a few hours between the end of school and practice, I can’t just goof around. I want to be admitted into the honors and advanced placement classes at my school, so this sometimes requires studying when I would rather be sleeping or doing something more fun than conjugating French verbs.

4. I don’t take sports too seriously.

Sure, I want to win, and I want to be a great athlete. But, I don’t beat myself up when I don’t have a good game. If we lose, I try to shake it off and tell myself we’ll try harder next time. Playing sports is supposed to be fun. And I don’t want to forget that under the pressure of being the best. I think when my team tries to enjoy the game and focuses on playing as a team, we do better than when we worry about our individual performance.

5. I listen to my parents (most of the time).

They encourage me to do well and motivate me to try harder. When I mess up, they are not too hard on me, but they do talk a lot about what makes for a successful life. My dad tells me to honor my commitments, be on time and always try to make friends. My mom tells me if I learn to write well, I can excel at whatever career I choose. They both tell me that kindness and consideration are among the most important life skills.

Yes, I may dream about being a college and professional athlete. But I also know that if that doesn’t happen, I can still have a happy and rewarding life.

Daniel McGann, a freshman at Loyola High School in Los Angeles, plays football and basketball for the Loyola Cubs and basketball for the Fastbreak travel team.

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