What does it mean to be an Episcopal athlete? We asked Episcopal senior athletes to share more about their experience.
“Athletes at Episcopal must learn to have mental stamina, being able to truly balance academics with sports, pushing themselves in multiple areas of their lives to be the best they can be, sometimes exhausting but always fulfilling,” says swimmer Sara Be.
“The thing I most enjoy about being an Episcopal athlete is the community that comes from being on a team,” says swimmer Nick Johannessen. “It has always been good to know that I had friends across all grades due to the friendships I made through the swim team.”
“The aspect that I enjoy most about being an Episcopal athlete is the comradery that comes from being a part of a team,” says runner James Christian. “Every day, the team creates an atmosphere that is different than any other. You are surrounded by people who go through many of the same difficulties as you. When you are around these people, you can relax and just be free with others who understand if you are having a tough time.”
Academics are important for all three of these athletes. “Coach reminds us that academics are more important than athletics,” says James. “Coach Dupe teaches us every year of what he believes to be the priorities in life: First is God, second is Family, third is school/work, fourth is sports/extracurricular activities and last is social. To him, academics should be above cross country. This is what helps me juggle the two. I realize I need to prioritize school.”
Academics are equally important for Sara and Nick who are National Merit Semifinalists. Nick says while it is challenging to juggle the rigorous academic program at Episcopal while competing, it’s not impossible. “I learned to be more efficient with my time and listen to my body,” he says. “I also made sure to use my study halls and office hours to their maximum potential, meeting with teachers, and doing homework during these times. Staying ahead on homework helps minimize some of the stress caused by the time crunch of practice and schoolwork.”
Episcopal truly does provide students the opportunity to explore a diverse array of interests. “Being an athlete at Episcopal is not a label, it does not limit any individual,” says Sara. “The swim team has three students participating in drum corps, attending morning swim practice and nighttime football games on Fridays. The football team this year includes three boys who race to select choir after practice on Mondays. This diversity of talent and character within the athletics department is priceless; sports teams gather a spectrum of types of students, forming seemingly unlikely connections and relationships that end up possessing enormous value.”
Students gain a range of important life skills from their participation in sports. “From my athletic experiences, I have learned the values of competition, leadership, teamwork, and hard work,” says Nick. “From competition with teammates in practice to actual swim meets, competitiveness is a crucial component of swimming. Teammates are always pushing each other to improve and be better at practice. Swim meets are the chance for all that hard work to shine, where you can prove to yourself and others what all that hard work has done.”
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Coach Dupe. “This is a quote that we hear every year, and it represents one of the most important lessons I have learned from my Cross-Country experience,” says James. “It is always important to be willing to put in the hard work. No matter how good you might be at something, it is hard work and dedication that will get you the farthest in life.”
Team is Everything.
Putting together a successful team and a championship season, truly is a team effort. “As a member of relays, races made of teams of four, I have also learned the value of teamwork,” says Nick. “A relay would not work with only three people. It takes everyone on the relay to make it work. Relays are my favorite races to swim because there are other people to celebrate your team's success. It takes the hard work of all four swimmers for a relay to be successful, and it is a fantastic feeling when it works.”
“Being on a team also brings you closer to people you might not have ever known,” says James. “Those people can become some of your closest friends.”
Sara points out that even those who are not officially on the team contribute to success in meaningful ways. “To be invested and engaged with Episcopal athletics doesn’t necessarily mean enrollment in a sports team,” she says. “Positive energy radiates through the stands when students of all grades gather together to cheer on the football team. In this nature, students build networks of support, elevating the school spirit and overall quality of life at Episcopal through athletics. In other words, sports at Episcopal facilitate mutual support from students, people lifting each other up when they need it the most.”
Congratulations to all of the Episcopal athletes who are accomplishing great things in the classroom and in competition. Go Knights!