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Sports Features

What it really takes to be a Condor athlete

Curie High School students have a history of going through adversity and still make headlines. Year by year, students undergo the pressures of enduring long practices and completing challenging homework assignments in order to become the prime example of a student athlete. Just like any other student, they still have to maintain their grades no matter how rigorous the class may be.

David Monarrez (Div. 715), a senior on the Curie baseball team, feels more responsibility to keep his grades up and succeed in the classroom, so he doesn’t let his teammates down by not being able to play in any upcoming games.

“Ever since I joined the team, I’ve had better grades than I’ve had all four years; always put homework first and school first, then focus on being an athlete,” Monarrez said.

Eligibility has had a huge impact on Condor sports in the past.

Apart from affecting Curie, there is a certain set of rules and criteria every CPS school needs in order to keep their roster. These rules are not only based on grades, but also  attendance, age, sports physical and behavior.

According to ABC7NY.com, “Curie was forced to forfeit all of its regular season games after Chicago Public School officials found that several players were academically ineligible. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) does not take into account grade point average like CPS does for eligibility.”

Prioritizing academics is key to having a successful high school career. It will also avoid a scenario similar to the one mentioned above. Academics aren’t just important to the players on the team, but also to the coaches. They are also responsible for making sure that the players that are ineligible don’t play.

“You must pass twenty-five credit hours of high school work per week. Generally, twenty-five credit hours is the equivalent of five .5 credit courses (2.5 full credits).” According to IHSA.org, these rules need to be met in order for a student to play.

Pamela Melinauskas, an early childhood development teacher and Junior Varsity girls soccer coach said, “I completely agree with the city rule as far as being ineligible if you’re failing one class because as I said before, you’re a student first, athlete second; you’re not going to get very far in sports if you don’t have the grades to back it up.”

In order for a student to succeed on the field, they must first be successful in the classroom. 

Melinauskas encourages her students to put school first because if you’re a leader in the classroom, you will also be a leader on the field. She believes that student athletes can learn great leadership and communication skills that they can apply in life and in the classroom.

“If students are ineligible to play, they are still responsible for being at practice and for being at the games. They have to be sitting on the benches or on the floor working on any homework they might have from the school day before,” Melinauskas said.

Student athletes are required to represent their school in a positive way both on and off the field. They are constantly being watched striving for greatness by their teachers, teammates, parents and coaches.

“Students must achieve whatever they need to achieve in the classroom and then achieve whatever they need on the field,” Melinauskas said.

Rick Montenegro (Div. 731), another senior on the Curie baseball team, thinks that just because students put school first that doesn’t mean that sports aren’t important to them, but school needs to be held at a higher standard because it determines your eligibility on the team.

“I can’t do so much practice and not focus on my studies because if I don’t study and I don’t do my homework, that affects me on the field because I won’t be able to play that game.” Montenegro said.

Student athletes have to endure long hours of exhausting practices, then come home to late nights of homework and studying, leaving little to no free time. During the time of the season the pressure of maintaining is at an all time high. Students do not want to let their team down, but also do not want to give up on their academics.  

Armando Palomar (Div. 702), a former player on the boys soccer team, claims “You don’t really have a social life unless you’re really good at planning your day to day schedule and manage your time.”

Comprising plays a big role in the life of a student athlete. For example, in order to play in a game you might have to give up things such as, attending a party. A motto to live by as a student athlete is, “practice makes perfect.” Every athlete strives to better at their craft to be the star on the field. This transitions into book work like practicing and studying for algebra and get you the ‘A’ you’ve been wanting on the upcoming quiz.

Montenegro would agree with Palomar. He states, “You’re so focused on your sport, you want to practice and get better for that next game that’s coming up, but you have to make sure you stay those long hours…maybe no sleep, all nighters, you never know.”

Student athletes need to learn how to manage their time more efficiently like Palomar since he has spent all four years of high school in the rigorous IB Programme. He needed to adjust quickly to the fast moving pace of balancing sports and homework.

“Every little free time I have, I focus on doing my homework so that later I can focus on soccer,” Palomar said.

On weeks when there are assignment deadlines and important games there isn’t much space to goof around. Every moment of spare time should be taken advantage of.

“Sometimes on Thursdays we would have study hall, and I would take use the time to do my homework there in order to keep up my grades,” Palomar said.

Trying to balance school and sports can be a challenging task. These students have issues outside of school life. This is something that many student athletes have to deal with because the day just isn’t long enough to be able to do everything. Students have to pick what is most important to them and organize their schedule accordingly.

“The negative is trying to balance everything out with homework to friends to family and events you want to go to,” Montenegro said.

Ultimately, the life of a student athlete isn’t easy. There are many positive and negative aspects of trying to balance everything. The sport seasons don’t last forever. It’s only a couple of months out of the year. It’s not only a great distraction, but a great way to make new friends.