When people think of Haverford athletics, most think of lacrosse and squash. Haverford has one of the most prestigious and accomplished athletic programs in the country, yet several students competing in sports outside of the school’s offerings are just as impressive and prestigious as our highest-ranked lacrosse or squash players. Wilson Hall hosts a number of top athletes from lesser-known sports.
While all athletes need to balance their schoolwork and their sporting endeavours, athletes that compete on their own have unique difficulties. Unlike school-sponsored athletics, students who compete in alternative sports often have schedules incompatible with Haverford’s academic calendar.
Tyler Neave, a Sixth Form skeet shooter, has spent a number of weeks missing classes due to shooting competitions. Neave has been shooting for much of his life and has travelled to and competed in numerous competitions over the country.
Keeping up with homework does not seem to be too much of a hassle for Neave. It is easy to sit down before bed and stay current with work.
“It’s easy to keep up with the work as it’s coming in, but actually catching up with the stuff that you miss in class is actually harder to make up,” Neave said.
Sometimes missing classes for a few days means that a student can miss a number of assessments.
Cameron Colucci ’20 spent almost all of his upper school days ice dancing. Colucci started skating at the age of four and picked up competitive ice dancing when he was seven. Throughout his career, he spent on average about six hours each day at the ice rink.
A 2019 Index piece by Johny Sonnenfeld quotes Colucci saying, “Usually I have to leave school at about 2:15, or I will skate in the morning. I would have a two-hour practice and then I would have a break and do a workout or some other off-ice classroom study for one hour. Then I would eat dinner really quickly, and then do another hour or 30 minutes of practice. My day would finish at about 8 o’clock.”
Almost all of Haverford’s athletic programs demand much time from their student athletes. It is safe to say, though, that most do not require the hours that Colucci spent working on his ice dancing routines. Yet despite all of this time spent, he still went home to finish leftover homework, complete upcoming projects, and study for tests.
Like Colucci, Thomas Hall has competed in an unconventional sport since a young age. Hall started sailing at the age of seven and quickly became one of the best sailors in the country. In sixth grade, Hall qualified for a World Championship alongside only four other American sailors. When asked about his academic challenges, Hall praised his teachers for being so flexible with his unique schedule.
“I think they are supporting and they do ask how it was and check in,” Hall said. “They do support and understand if you couldn’t do that paper or you couldn’t do this or that.”
While competing in distant events can be a burden for these athletes, it is just as significant a hurdle for their teachers to manage the missed work. When a teacher has a student who moves at a drastically different pace through the class content, it is almost like teaching a brand new independent study, and requires the teacher to keep track of that student’s work separately from the rest of his peers. Haverford teachers have been supportive of athletes that spend a lot of time away, and often go above and beyond their regular classroom duties to help them be successful in their academic careers.