It’s the first home game of the season and the bleachers are packed. Students from all grades line up to buy their hot cocoa, then head over to cheer for their peers. The next day, everyone hears about the plays they watched, and the football players are praised for their great work. But, what about all the other athletes who work just as hard at their practices, only to show up to their games and meets to see that no one is watching? Ledyard offers some fun and challenging sports that aren’t recognized nearly enough by the student body.
There are sports other than football that have decent student audiences, such as soccer and basketball. However, in sports like swimming, girls cross country, fencing, and gymnastics, it’s rare to see many peers come out to support these teams. Gretchen Irwin, a sophomore from girls’ cross country said, “Really no one comes to meets. It’s pretty much only parents and family members.”
There are a lot of benefits to sports having larger audiences. It can help boost people’s confidence in their own athletic abilities but also help them work harder. “I think it would put a little more pressure on us to win, but it would also be more fun because we would know that people are there to support us,” said sophomore Katelyn Hughes from girls’ swimming.
Another thing about these sports is that some of them also have very small teams. Gymnastics and cross country only have 3-9 participants. Having small teams can also have effects on the athletes, whether it is negative or positive. Irwin believes it has a positive effect on the cross country team. She said, “I think that there’s so few that you really know how important every single person is. We get to focus on more individualized things for each person because there are so few.” Also, having a bigger audience could also improve motivation and give the athletes more support. It just depends on how people look at it.
These athletes work hard at practice every single day. They deserve some recognition and support too, even if their sport isn’t one people would normally watch. “People should show more support if they want to,” said senior Abby Milbach from gymnastics, “Gymnastics is a really entertaining sport and it’s the only gymnastics team we’ve had in a while, so it’s a chance to experience a sporting event that most Ledyard high schoolers haven’t experienced.”
So, before deciding to spend Friday night on the football field, or basketball gym, students should give some thought to showing up at the pool or cross country path instead. Maybe they’ll find a new team just as worthy of watching.
Emma Cassidy, Staff Writer
Sophomore Emma Cassidy is a staff writer for the 2019-2020 Colonel. She swims competitively for club teams and the high school. When she’s not in the pool she’s usually drinking iced coffee and hanging out with friends.