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Under pressure: The pros, cons

Samantha Forcht and Nathalie Tucker

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It’s 30 minutes until game time and senior Megan Webber is doing her pregame warmup with her headphones on, blasting her pump-up playlist. As she stretches, Webber thinks to herself, “I can’t choke this game, recruits could be watching.”
No matter what sports they play, student-athletes always feel an immense amount of pressure to perform every time they step onto the field, track or court. The need to impress other people and themselves is constantly on the minds of athletes before, during and after their games or meets.
So where does this pressure stem from? Is it from parents, coaches or the athletes themselves? “I would say I feel the most pressure from myself,” said senior baseball and basketball player Chris Wagner. “I know my abilities, and if I’m not performing at a high level then I’m going to try to push myself to perform better.”
Junior soccer goalie Caitlin Amman agrees that her pressure comes from within. “I maintain a constant pressure on myself because I need to ensure that I’m always ready to take on a shot,” said Amman. “Pressure from the coaches does not stay with me in games because I’m concentrating on the field.”
Whether the pressure to succeed is internal or external, for some senior athletes the pressure is only growing from here. Senior Steven Warren recently committed to a Division III university for swimming and has to please a new coach and teammates for four more years. So for Warren, the heat is on. “The pressure isn’t relieved until I step foot on campus and begin competing at a higher level,” he said.
Athletes have to find ways to cope with the strain put on them. “Before big meets, I try to calm myself by distracting myself and listening to music,” said senior runner Mia Melao. Through tactics like these, student-athletes are able to calm their nerves.
For some athletes, pressure is vital to their performances. Softball and Field Hockey Coach Caitlin Macdonald doesn’t think it is necessarily a bad thing. “I think every athlete wants to perform for their teammates, otherwise it’s not going to work,” Macdonald said. “So I don’t think pressure in athletics is a bad thing. I think it is necessary to succeed in athletics.”
Others, however, are forced to quit the sport they love because of pressure. “The [WHS soccer] program basically controlled my life, and I felt pressure from getting yelled at constantly at practices,” said senior Mia DeVito, who left WHS soccer after her junior year.
In the end, pressure in sports is inevitable. “Whenever you are competing in anything, there is pressure,” said WHS Athletic Director Ms. Sandy Mamary. “Sometimes there is good pressure and bad pressure. Sometimes there is both.”

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