Skyline Post Senior Spotlight: Tips For Being a High School Athlete


Sanjay Rao. Credit: Sanjay Rao

A note from The Post staff: at The Skyline Post, we invite every senior who has been on our staff to write a Senior Spotlight. A Senior Spotlight is a chance for them to address the community as they go forth into the world.

I started my journey as an athlete in early July, 2017. Being decently fast in middle school track and field, I had decided to continue running through track and cross country at Skyline. My first practice was during an extremely hot day, in the middle of a field of tall grass with a few trails running the outline of the field. I met my team, who were all very kind and supportive, and I was surprised to see that I was one of the only freshmen on the team. 

A few reps into the workout, I knew that I still had some speed from middle school. This fact, combined with being a freshman in a team of mostly upperclassmen, gave me the realization that I might be able to be one of the better runners on the team. With this goal in mind, I decided to start running with the seniors and varsity runners. They regularly ran considerably faster than I was used to, and sometimes I couldn’t even finish basic workouts that I started with them. However, my stubbornness in my goal kept me joining their workout group every day. 

While every sport is hard in its own way, running is particularly taxing on the mind and body. Running at this higher level had me feeling drained at the end of every week, and it started to actually affect my races. In my first three races, I set a series of personal records. From then on, my races only got slower throughout the rest of my freshman year. By the end of the season, I was totally burnt out. We kept training throughout the winter, so this effect continued to bleed into my track season, leading to some unimpressive races. 

I feel like going too hard freshman year impacted my entire running career as a whole. I got faster every year, but only by little increments at a time. I feel like if I didn’t completely exhaust myself that first year, and I just slowed down and tried to build basic skills, I would be a better athlete today. 

If I could give one piece of advice to my younger self, and any underclassmen athletes, it would be to slow down and enjoy your first year or two of your sport in high school. Obviously work hard, but don’t overload yourself mentally and physically before you fully understand your sport. This way, every new season will feel much more fresh and exciting, and you will see dramatic improvements each year. Most importantly, have fun!