Jacob Alvarado, Ridgewood
Iam a sophomore in high school. Although I still have more than half of high school left, I know that I have made some life-changing decisions in the past two years. The best decision was to run cross country in the fall. I am by no means a good runner, but in 8th grade I decided to give cross country a chance and signed up along with a few of my friends.
As I was giving up my time to play a sport, I was incredibly worried about the upcoming workload. As the oldest child, I’ve always gotten information about upper grades through my friends’ siblings, and one of the most prevalent facts about Ridgewood High School was that the amount of homework you received would be nothing like before. If you went to bed before midnight, even as a freshman, you were lucky. This terrified me. As someone who struggled to stay up past 10 p.m., I figured that 9th grade wasn’t going to be fun.
Summer ended quickly and soon enough, I was at a new school with a ton of work. Still, I found myself going to practice every day even when I had a seemingly massive amount of homework. As one week turned into two, and then into a month, and then two months, I realized that what I had heard wasn’t entirely true. Sure, I had more work than previous years, but there was never a night where I had to stay up until 3 a.m. just to finish homework.
I won’t lie, there were definitely days where I told myself that I had to quit cross country and there was no way I would put myself through this ever again. When the season ended though, I found myself thinking the exact opposite. I had learned so many valuable lessons.
The first was how to manage my time and perfect my study techniques. Some days I would come right home from practice, shower quickly, start my homework, eat dinner, finish my homework and then study for any upcoming quizzes or tests. In the beginning of the year, this pattern would be full of 30-minute long breaks where I would sit on my phone and do anything to avoid working. As time went on and the workload increased, I started to check my phone less and less.
One of the best strategies I formulated was to put my phone in a different room before starting my work. Although my phone was nearby, I didn’t hear it buzz every time I got a notification and was much less tempted to check it. This greatly helped me improve my study habits.
The most ironic thing that happened was that after the season ended, my grades started to drop when I had expected the exact opposite. I think it was because of all the free time I now had and I started to go back to my old habits of checking my phone too often, and being less productive. I found it interesting that when I had less time available I actually accomplished more.
I know cross country isn’t for everyone, but I think everyone should consider trying something new, especially in the fall. Trust me, I would have never thought I would say that, but now I can’t imagine the fall without cross country.
If you find a sport, club, instrument, or any other activity that you have the slightest interest in, go for it. Sure, there may be days where you want to drop everything and break down. But once you finish, you will be stronger. Along with that, you will meet great people who share a common interest. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve found myself running alongside people who I would have never known otherwise. At the end of the season, we are sad that we won’t be spending every afternoon together, running rain or shine.
You don’t have to be the best to have a good time, but in ways you don’t even realize, every activity will help you.