Late to the game

Although joining a sport later in a student’s high school career may seem unconventional, it helps them find new communities and interests


Isabella Kellermeier

ROOKIE AT BAT. Junior Nick Beach keeps his eyes on the ball as he hits it into the outfield at the varsity baseball game against Corliss High School April 6. Nick joined the team this year after his hockey season came to an end.

Max Garfinkel, Business Manager

Nick Beach hits, throws and catches well enough to keep up with everyone on his baseball team. One would think that he had been playing baseball for most of his life as many of his teammates have, but Nick, a junior, just started seriously playing baseball this year.

It is unusual for students to join a sport for the first time as a junior or senior, but the students who do find friendship and sometimes even success.

Although Nick joined the school’s baseball team this year, he made the varsity team. He joined after his hockey season ended. Nick explained that he joined the baseball team since many of his friends were on it.

JV baseball coach Luke Zavala explained that it is not unusual for athletes to join teams if their friends are playing that sport.

From freshman year saying that baseball is the worst sport and that it’s so boring, then to going out on the field and chatting and enjoying the sport has definitely been really surprising.

— Nick Beach, Junior

When a student joins a team later in their high school career, it is up to the coach to decide the best way to incorporate them into the team. Mr. Zavala said his philosophy for assessing whether an athlete is ready for varsity is based purely on skill level. He said, even if their friends are on varsity it may not be best to put them on varsity.

“You don’t want to put someone in a position that they won’t be successful,” he said. “That doesn’t really serve the team, and it doesn’t serve them as an athlete either.”

Nick came to the team with some experience from years ago.

“I played baseball as a kid,” Nick said. “I was a pitcher, so it wasn’t like I had never played baseball before, or never picked up a glove, so it wasn’t that I expected to get some varsity minutes, but I hoped that I could later in the season. I guess it just happened earlier than I expected.”

For him, playing baseball is a lot more social than physical. He said that it is a lot slower-moving than hockey, so he is able to spend a lot of time chatting with his friends on the field. After previously joking with his friends that baseball was a “boring sport,” Nick was surprised that he enjoys it as much as he does.

“From freshman year saying that baseball is the worst sport and that it’s so boring, then to going out on the field and chatting and enjoying the sport has definitely been really surprising,” he said.

Junior Jenny Yang has also been surprised with how much she enjoys a sport she joined this year. Jenny joined the fencing team this winter after trying it for the first time in P.E.

“It’s a really cool, niche sport,” she said. “It’s a very engaging, in-the-moment sport.”

Although athletes may be late to the game if they join a team as an older student, they say the time spent with friends and fun on the field makes it worth it.

Jenny’s friends being on the team was a major inspiration for her joining the fencing team.

She described practices as not only a place to develop her skills as a fencer, but also to have fun with her teammates.

“A lot of my friends are on the team,” she said. “I think that if it was people I didn’t like I would not do it since it’s super intimidating.”