The Magic of Sports

Haldora Churchill ’27 in Opinions | December 8, 2023

          Here at Lawrenceville, many students are stressed and sleep-deprived from their academic, athletic, and extracurricular commitments. Simply put, life at Lawrenceville can be taxing on students’ mental health. There is one activity at Lawrenceville that greatly improves both students’ physical well-being and mental health: playing sports. Exercising can significantly reduce the effects of or the risk of developing a mental health disorder, as does going outside and interacting with nature. 

          As a member of the Girls’ Varsity Cross Country team in the Fall Term, I felt incredibly well-supported by all of my teammates and coaches. It felt amazing to help our girls’ team win the MAPL Championship, knowing the hard work each of us put into our season. Even though we did not win every meet, what mattered most was that we gave it our all and performed the best we could in the moment. All Lawrenceville students should consider participating in interscholastic sports so they can reflect on fond memories with their teammates, created during wins and losses, reaching goals and falling short—together. Uplifting experiences, like those offered by playing sports, are essential for maintaining mental health. Additionally, bonds with teammates and coaches can be helpful assets to every student’s support system, because no one should have to take on the challenges of Lawrenceville alone. Participating in athletics at Lawrenceville is a great way to create lasting memories with coaches, teammates, and with the sport itself.

          While varsity sports at Lawrenceville may be highly respected, junior varsity and lifetime athletics are equally important for building strong bonds with new people, developing athletic skills, and supporting psychological wellbeing. While non-interscholastic sports often don’t offer the same strong athletic culture of other teams and are sometimes demeaned as “not real sports,” they should not be dismissed. All methods of getting active, through team sports or otherwise, are effective ways to support mental and physical health and should not be diminished. Lifetime sports are not just a way to satisfy the co-curricular requirement, but can fit better into a schedule as a low-stress environment. House sports and other lifetime options provide safe spaces for everyone trying to get support and pursue their own fitness goals together.

          In the winter months, as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it is often easy to lose sight of one's athletic goals. Continuing to work with a team or group to hold yourself and others accountable can make goals so much more attainable and rewarding. While not everyone is inclined to exercise before or after a long day of classes, the endorphins released during exercise can make students feel happy, accomplished because of their hard work, and even energized to continue exercising. Endorphins are not only released from working hard in practice, but can also be released when student-athletes run their personal bests, score touchdowns or goals, or reach a weight-lifting personal record in Loucks. Sports at Lawrenceville push students to feel positive, even amongst the rigor of the Lawrenceville schedule. After hard workouts and meets, I felt an unmatched sense of accomplishment and an endorphin rush which makes playing a sport you enjoy worth it—it feels amazing!