Double the season, double the strength



Alyssa Winston (12) gets ready to run in her meet with Houston High School on April 9, 2022. She placed third for the 300-meter hurdles.

Learn. Practice. Work. Repeat. For many student-athletes, this is what life looks like during their sports season. However, some consume themselves with sports for the entire year due to their motivation to play more than one sport in multiple seasons.

Kylie Grant (11) has been playing tennis since the age of five, mainly motivated by her father being a tennis coach.  After having Jeremy Bateman, the golf coach, as her Advanced Placement Human Geography teacher in ninth grade, she decided to play golf the following year. Grant has cultivated her passion for these sports by training throughout the year.

“Mentally, it’s a struggle to keep up with work, school and sports [and oftentimes] I feel like I’m being stretched too much [but] my family and friends keep me going, and coaches are so motivating,” Grant said.

With multiple sports comes multiple teams; many athletes benefit from these communities. Alyssa Winston (12) has been a cheerleader since sixth grade, and her main motivation was to meet people from the new environment and cultivate her school spirit. On top of cheer, she was inspired by her brother to join the track team. Since middle school, she has continued her commitment in both sports.

“At first it was my brother [who] did track so I thought maybe I should give it a try and wing it.” Winston said. “I was originally from Knoxville so coming here I wanted to meet more people.”

Every coach reminds their players not to forget the ‘student’ in ‘student-athlete.’ With her 4.1 GPA and fall and spring seasons, Winston has learned the value of balance and advises that student-athletes should try their best to not procrastinate and to communicate with their teachers.

“Everytime something is due, I try to do it as soon as I can even though I may not feel like doing it,” Winston said. “But if I [don’t do it], I will try to tell the teachers and see if there’s a way [they] could help me with the work.”

Before a sports season, teams train and condition together to prepare for games and competitions. Although double-season athletes lack a break while transitioning between sports, they do appreciate the sense of commitment. Adam O’Neal (10) has been playing baseball since the age of five and started playing football in seventh grade, training for both during breaks and after school.

“[Practicing for football is] very hard and we do a lot of stuff [but] our coach pushes us a lot,” O’Neal said. “You just [have to] take [the] time and skip out on hangouts [with friends] to do homework.”

Some double-season athletes consider winter as their off-season. O’Neal plays football in the fall and waits until spring to get on the baseball field. 

“[From] November to January, [I try to get] more rest [so that I could have] more strength and speed,” O’Neal said. 

Whether mentally or physically, athletes come across many challenges as they devote so much time to sports. Even after hours of after school practice and weekend workouts, it is still crucial for athletes to make time for themselves.

“I feel like being so caught up with the sports, you forget about yourself sometimes even though it’s supposed to help you.” Winston said. “You don’t really focus on [whether you have] really taken self care for [yourself] or if [you] have really been stuck on other people and not care so much about yourself,” Winston said. 

After years of dedication and discipline during high school, some motivated athletes are planning to continue in college. Winston plans to achieve as much as she can by committing to her dream schools with track. O’Neal, who also took inspiration from his older siblings, is devoting himself to Louisiana State University with his football skills. 

“I’m going to try to pursue track in college at the University of Knoxville or Kentucky,” Winston said. “I liked the environment [of UTK] when I lived in Knoxville.”