The IA Predicament- Sports v. School

The annual IA “Olympics” serve as a rare occurrence when IA athletes can show off their talents at their home campus (Image courtesy of International Academy Facebook)

By Evan Kolin (’18)

 Every day, roughly 400 students walk into the building formerly known as Traub Elementary School. While the construction may not seem noteworthy at first glance, it currently houses the 9th best public high school in the nation, and the finest in Michigan: The International Academy.

The International Academy, or IA for short, is filled with some of the top students in Oakland County, scholars who had to get through their home district’s lottery, complete an application, and finally pass an entrance exam to attend. But not only is the IA stocked with achievement, it is also bursting with outstanding athletes.

While the school does not boast any sports teams itself, the International Academy’s attendees are still able to compete for their home school, or the high school the student would have attended had they not gone to the IA.

But how can these students spend up to 15 hours a week at practice, while also fighting through their own exhausting academic curriculum?

Matt Mancini, an IA junior who also swims for Berkley High School, stated that he does have “some late nights studying or doing school work”.

Matt Mancini overcomes a variety of difficulties when trying to accomplish both his academic and athletic obligations.

Late evenings will be the epitome of a student-athlete’s life at the International Academy, as long as it doesn’t break the line between moderate and extreme. However, Mancini also noted that he may go to bed as late as 2 o’clock in the morning doing homework, and with school starting sharply at 7:45 the next day, he is getting over three hours less than the recommended amount of sleep a 16 year old should have.

Not only that, but participating in sports also leads to chaos in having to commute daily to your home school promptly as the last class of the day finishes, a predicament that is especially rough for underclassmen. Mancini admitted that traveling to Berkley on a daily basis was “difficult before [he] could drive” as he was forced to search for a “carpool with other people”. And in a school full of students from across the county, that search most certainly isn’t a fun one.

In order to deal with these obstacles, IA athletes have to come up with unique ways to both manage their time as well as their commitments.

Noah Zeigler, captain for the Bloomfield Hills swimming and diving team, explains how he “makes sure never to procrastinate [his] schoolwork”. While IA students are known for their heavy procrastination, that postponement is something athletes at the school simply cannot afford.

So while most of his peers wait until the last minute to finish assignments, Zeigler ensures that he gets them done early so he can successfully balance his responsibilities between sports and school.

Once the clock hits 2:35, rather than wasting precious minutes behind inexperienced drivers and impatient parents, Zeigler “assures to get to school early” in order to get a spot that allows him an easy exit from the mayhem that is the IA parking lot.

While these solutions may seem straightforward and obvious, they do require action that isn’t the standard for most students at the International Academy. Student-athletes such as Zeigler and Mancini cannot enjoy the comfort or the capacity to put off assignments or get extra sleep in the morning. Every single day comes with precise time management that allows them to not only receive a great education, but also enjoy time at their home school just as any normal kid can.

While sports can take the entire afternoon you have for homework and condense it down to a mere few hours, this compressing of time can actually be a blessing in disguise.

Alexis Yan, who played soccer for Avondale High School his first two years at the IA, specified the fact that “trying to balance sports and school helps make you even more time conscious, as you know you don’t have any time to waste”.

Athletes trying to find time for schoolwork may have the willpower to display extreme focus themselves, but they are also kind of forced to. Their intense time constraints obligate them to focus on homework for long durations, and these periods of excessive concentration nearly makes up for the forfeited time courtesy of their athletic commitments.

Amith Dayananda thanks sports for helping him develop his sense of teamwork.

Lastly, as Groves tennis, soccer and basketball player Amith Dayananda perfectly illustrates, competing in sports helps students “get a feel for the teamwork and bonds between a team”. Not only is the difficulty of combining sports and IA vastly overrated, the sense of being part of a group can actually help these teenagers become more well-rounded people. This goes beyond just getting an A on the next day’s exam, as it starts to prepare young scholars for the real world.

So, while trying to participate in athletics as a student at the International Academy may seem like a daunting task, it is very much possible. Balancing these extracurriculars may require some time management and organisation skills, but I guarantee you, the reward of staying involved with sports will be just as abundant as the hard work that goes in.

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