by Tate Slater, Sports Reporter
photo by Becky Dozortsev
After practice, student-athletes grab their belongings and head outside. They have different ways of getting home: some drive themselves, some take the bus and some get a ride from a friend or a parent or guardian. Those who wait do so in the dark during the winter months, and many gather near the breezeway.
With the school day’s later start time and irregular practice end times, sports practices and games are ending later, subsequently causing athletes to get home later than ever before. In past years, many arrived home from practice around 5 p.m., but this year’s 9 a.m. start time, as compared to the 7:40 a.m. start in previous years, has shifted arrival times to around 6-7 p.m.
For many athletes, the late end time has impacted their personal lives and presented transportation challenges.
Wrestling coach Alan Rotatori said that the school’s current schedule has added complexity to the bus schedule.
“Our school schedule has been pushed later, which pushes the transportation for most of our competitions in the middle of rush hour traffic,” he said. “So any away competition that we have, we have to keep that in mind and add more time to that commute because we’re going to be getting stuck in traffic,” Rotatori said.
Paxton Boyd, a sophomore on the boys basketball team, said that it is difficult to plan around bus schedules. The junior varsity team practices at Brown Middle School, so Boyd has a tight window of time to get back to South to make the late bus.
“I usually have to run back over to South in order to catch the 6:45 p.m. bus because my practice ends at 6:30 p.m.,” Boyd said.
In some cases, buses just are not convenient enough. Rotatori said when the wrestling team had a tournament in Woburn, it was easier for everyone to get their own ride there than organize a bus.
Freshman swimmer Sara Volpe said that because practices take place at North, and the school does not offer a bus, she has to rely on her family to drive her. Transport to daily practices requires much of her family’s free time and irregular practice end times adds to the general inconvenience, Sara’s father Greg Volpe said.
“If I drive her twice, it’s an hour, so I’d say [it’s] about two hours per week [of driving to and from sports],” Volpe said. “It’s inconsistent for me to take her all the time, at different times.”
When Caroline Hoban, senior captain of the girls basketball team, gets home, it’s already 8 p.m. and she hasn’t even begun her homework, which often keeps her up until midnight, she said.
She is not alone in this experience of having limited free time. Freshman cross country and track runner Alex Friedman said because practices end late, he doesn’t often get a lot of time to himself during the season.
The later end times also make it harder for athletes to eat dinner with their families, Rotatori said.
“It’s not convenient at all, for any of these kids,” he said. “These days, by statistics, only one in four, 25% of our population, actually have sit down dinner with their families on a regular basis. That’s a terrible statistic,” Rotatori said.
“I’m a big fan of having kids be able to do their extracurricular activities after school, and still be home to have dinner with their families. I think that’s important,” he said.
Looking ahead to the spring season, Rotatori, who will be the assistant coach on the boys lacrosse team, said that even with longer days, the late end time will still impact field availability as he plans for the season.
“In the beginning of April, it’s still going to be dark at 6:15 p.m. … we’re gonna have to go to the only field that we have lights on,” he said.