Extracurriculars and Academics: The Struggle


Nahya Pelito, Staff Writer

A teenager sprawls tiredly on a bed from an exhausting practice, another gets home late after a club event, while another scribbles down notes hours just before a Calculus test. At Vista del Lago High School, students are involved in just about everything, from some of the 45 clubs at our campus to the various athletic teams — students do it all.

But, there are times when athletes struggle with maintaining their grades, whether it’s high school or in college.

According to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) study, the average in-season GPA for men’s division II football is 2.56. Comparing this to the average out-of-season GPA average, 2.53, it’s clear that extracurriculars don’t always hinder academic performances.

There are some other sports, such as women’s basketball, division II, that have a small differential GPA average from 2.98 in-season and 2.99 out-of-season, and men’s lacrosse, Division II, which shows a drastic .16 GPA difference from 2.68 out-of-season down to 2.52 in-season.

People choose to take part in sports even though they know the risks that could negatively impact their grades, but it may be hard for some people to let go of things that they are passionate about. There is a commonality between students of Vista that lies between studying time and “hav[ing] things that you’re passionate about,” said junior Annie Liu, the president of Vista’s Art Club.

Of course, the time crunch puts stress on athletes, too. “Being an honors and AP student, there’s a heavier workload… [However,] you don’t need to give up your passions for education, and you don’t need to give up education for your passions,” said Liu. As a former player for last year’s girls’ volleyball team, she suggests, “Find a healthy balance that works for you… Get your sleep, work hard in your classes and set goals.”

“It’s all about time management. It’s not something everyone is just born with, and I certainly wasn’t. I had to learn to adapt to my schedule and plan my things accordingly,” said Param Shah, a member of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Model United Nations and Key Club.

However, time management doesn’t always allow for a successful balance of studies and after school activities.  

“School always comes first and the coaches know that,” said junior Mikayla Newsome-Rouse, a varsity volleyball player. “If my grades are really suffering, I would stop playing sports until they become better… Games, practices, and extracurriculars are always affecting my homework and studying time.” 

In addition, there are sacrifices that students have to make in order to stay on top of their studies.

“Sometimes it means I can’t go out and do stuff with friends but school is more important,” said Newsome-Rouse.

Students aren’t alone on this. Contrary to popular belief, adults understand that students are under a strain of pressure and take into account the workload they carry.

“Sports take so much time. Coaches do long practices and it just takes a lot of time from homework and so on. It’s a fair assertion that athletes do have trouble keeping up their grades,” said Michael Hammer, a math teacher and golf coach at Vista. “…the coach should be flexible if a student needs to make up a test. Chances are, they’re not gonna make money being an athlete.”

It’s rare for a student-athlete to make it big in the real world. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no point in doing athletics in high school.

“It’s good for students to get involved with different things. You just have to be able to manage your time… You just have to figure out how to be successful in school at the same time,” said Hammer.

Sports and other activities don’t necessarily end when high school does. Students are still able to pursue them in college along with other benefits as well.

MJ Ubag, a graduate from Vista’s class of 2016, now plays women’s volleyball for American River College.

“…pursuing extracurricular activities in college is a good way to meet new people and venture out of your comfort zone,” said Ubag. During her four years at Vista, she was involved in Student Government, NAMI On Campus Club, and played libero for the Vista’s girl’s volleyball team.

“If you’re unsure of what you want to major in, it would be smart to attend a junior college or take intro classes that will give some insight of what you like to do,” said Ubag. “Work hard and if you feel like giving up, don’t. Mentally push yourself to strive for the best.”

High school is the first step for students to gain experience through making important decisions. Inevitably, these decisions will lead to handling bigger responsibilities in college life.