Winter break is a crucial time for students to rest from the stress of school, especially after a hectic first semester and finals week. It also provides a valuable rest period for Berkeley High (BHS) athletes, most of whom train every day of the school week.
Many BHS coaches, including those for basketball and soccer, offer optional, but highly suggested training sessions over break for students to maintain their routines. It’s an understandable practice, considering that not holding practices would pose disadvantages to BHS sports teams, as athletes would need to waste time getting back in shape.
However, teams such as BHS basketball and soccer continued to hold games during finals week and into the first weekend of break. Missing games can cause athletes to lose playing time in the future, forcing them to make a choice between the team and preparing for finals. Finals should be prioritized, as they make up a big part of semester grades.
Consequently, once winter break starts, students need a break. Attending daily practices and playing in multiple games a week can take a huge physical toll on athletes. Coaches must understand that each athlete is different, and that while some athletes benefit from the routine of practice, others may simply need a break.
Ideally, games and practices spanning from finals week through winter break should be optional. However, if leagues in the area continue to hold games at this time — especially games that qualify teams for playoffs and tournaments — it would cause setbacks for BHS teams not to participate or continue practices. This highlights an overarching issue for student athletes, coaches, and organizers: how can student athletes balance school with tough competition? While BHS may be stretching athletes too thin during break, they are just trying to keep up with other teams. Athletes must be able to prioritize their health and school while still fostering competition.