Skill overcomes age when freshmen play varsity

Freshman Hannah Nguyen is a member of the school's varsity swim team.

Provided by Hannah Nguyen

Freshman Hannah Nguyen is a member of the school’s varsity swim team.

It’s not uncommon for freshmen to see significant playing time in college athletics as there are usually only two options: be eligible and compete as a freshman or take a redshirt year and be ineligible to play until one’s second year in college.

On the high school level it’s a slightly different story as there are frequently freshmen and JV teams designed for underclassmen. However, there are 23 freshmen on varsity rosters this year.

Coaches look at more than just athleticism when deciding what player they want for their team.

“It makes me more focused if anything it makes me focused on a goal, it makes me have a goal instead of just going through the motions,” freshman track and field athlete Adrienne Taylor said.

The age gap between some of these older athletes and freshmen can be leave the 9th graders a bit in awe.

“I’m was really happy and nervous to start the season,” freshman swimmer, Hannah Nguyen said. “The people on the swim team kind of intimidated me a bit and it was just different because I never really swam on a really competitive team before.”

For freshman softball player, Cassie Cannon, playing with upperclassmen isn’t too different from what’s she done in the past, but it doesn’t take away from her excitement.

“I was excited and I was proud of myself and I knew that I worked hard to get the spot on the team,” Cannon said. “Whenever I played softball I used to play up with older teams so I got used to older people and playing with them.”

When evaluating whether or not freshmen are  placed on varsity, head volleyball coach Ui Womble looks for specific traits of a player.

Although it may be difficult, being a freshman on varsity is no uncommon at the school.

“Really it’s if their level of play fits in with that varsity level of play that’s really the main determination. Also if their maturity matches up,” Womble said. “If they’re a freshman and they’re a great athlete but are too silly and don’t understand the expectations we have for the level of play of varsity and the time commitment and that sort of thing, that might hold someone back as a freshman but really its maturity and their level of play is high enough to fit with the team.”

Even with maturity and athletic ability, Womble is watchful of freshman competing on the varsity level.

“It’s hard because you think that you can have a freshman come in and they’re fourteen years old and then they’re playing with eighteen year olds. That’s a big difference between a fourteen year old and eighteen year old as far as maturity, and then even just the size and development,” Womble said. “That’s definitely a huge factor. I really make sure I talk to parents. If we do decide to put a freshman on varsity, I’ll talk to their parents beforehand and let them know that we are keeping an eye on their kids and understand that if they have concerns about having their freshman with older kids then they’ll let me know and we can figure it out from there.”