Late start time is a challenge for athletes

by Clare Tourtelotte, Sports Editor
graphic by Caitlyn Ang

The late start this year will likely turn student athletes’ lives upside down. Everything will be shifted, from the time practices start to the time athletes get home after away meets. 

Unlike the return of pre-pandemic homework and rigor in classes this year, the previous start time of 7:40 a.m. is gone for good. Similar to last year, school will start at 9 a.m and while some may benefit from this model, the late start will deteriorate athletes’ sleep schedules, as they come home late and stay up late doing homework. 

Senior Amanda Hart, girls cross country captain and member of the girl’s track and field team, said that the administration doesn’t understand that hundreds of athletes were negatively affected by the late end time this past year.  

“We had to leave school earlier for meets, and that made us miss larger chunks of class than we did in the past,” Hart said. “It feels like [the administration] doesn’t realize how hard it can be for athletes.”

South’s alpine ski team practices and competes at Nashoba Valley in Westford. Last year, the 4 p.m. end time made senior Logan Flannery leave for his 40 minute bus ride to Nashoba right after class, and sometimes before it ended. Student-athletes should not have to choose between missing class and getting to competitions on time. We must promote sports as a healthy exercise rather than create stress for athletes.

Sammie Lu, senior captain of the girls volleyball team and member of the student-athlete committee, said that the committee wants to make away games happen on a day with a WIN block at the end of the day so students miss the least amount of class time. However, according to the boys and girls cross country schedule for this fall, many meets will take place on Wednesdays, when G block is the last period of the day.

Girls junior varsity softball and basketball coach David Goose said the late end time combined with the lack of daylight could prohibit teams from holding practice.

“In the fall, when it’s darker earlier, will there be enough space outside to have practices?” he said. “There are going to be a lot of teams competing for daylight.” 

Lack of daylight was a major issue for many fall and winter sports last year and will continue to be a challenge for teams this year, captain of the nordic ski team Junior Mariel Shapiro said.

“When we were doing land training and running on the street, it was fully dark, and we had to make sure everyone was wearing lights,” she said. “When we wanted to use the track, a lot of times the lights were off, and we were in the dark.”

For athletes like senior Daniel Stevens, captain of the boys soccer team, the late end time adds additional stress because of other responsibilities, like his job and college applications.

“Everything’s just getting stacked up, and I’m not going to have time for homework until really late at night, so I’m definitely not going to get as much sleep,” he said. 

Shapiro said that in the end, the new start time will have the opposite effect as what was intended for student-athletes.

“Even though the time is pushed back an hour and a half, athletes aren’t actually going to get that extra hour and a half and sleep. We’re just going to end up staying up an hour and a half later,” Shapiro said. 

This year is going to be unpredictable and the new schedule is going to be an adjustment for everyone, but Goose said that he believes student-athletes can still be successful.

“We can overcome this. It will take some getting used to and some scheduling, but I hope it’ll be okay,” Goose said.