Where a Student-Athlete Can Thrive
by Mackenzie Berk
At twelve years old, I finally toured the halls of what I had always thought was a castle whenever we drove down North Park Boulevard. In fact, it was a magical place, one where girls are able to thrive and achieve goals usually thought unachievable. As young twelve-year-old Mackenzie Berk, I wanted to strive, to be the best I could, and to follow my dreams. Being young, I didn’t tend to consider my educational future; my parents had to reinforce that education came before athletics. Even if I wanted to contradict this statement, Hathaway Brown never gave me the chance. The academic and athletic experience at HB could not be compared to my experience at the competing private school that I had gone to my whole life.
Now, as an older student-athlete, I realize that I transferred into the best possible school. Also, now as Varsity captain of both the softball and the basketball teams, I have the involvement in my school’s athletics needed to speak with experience to this subject. HB has a tradition of superior athletics. Varsity tennis has won states two years in a row, and varsity basketball had won states five years in a row leading up to 2013. HB has recently received a full college size turf field, renovated its basketball court to be collegiate size, and vamped up the aquatics center with an Olympic size pool and diving area as well. Such wonderful facilities prepare HB’s student-athletes for the next level.
However, athletics at HB are far more than just the sports themselves. As student-athletes, we are exposed to opportunities that break down barriers between young and old and speakers of different languages. Older HB athletes are counselors at various summer sport camps, and many of our exchange students from Spain and Australia participate on our teams. Athletics are valued, not just in terms of winning games but also as a way of helping others enjoy life. We take athletics into the world beyond our campus, for example, through our involvement in Youth Challenge, a program that accommodates sports to the disabled, and our work with the Dialysis Center. Individually, I have completely increased my self-confidence in interacting with other people through my athletics. I have learned to have conversations with many adults and also how to present myself and what I have to offer quickly and effectively to college coaches. What my Business and Finance teacher calls “Elevator Talk” is something I’ve learned through my athletic endeavors.
Ultimately, the “athlete” part of the HB “student-athlete” supports and even improves the HB student. Stereotypes of indifferent and even poor students who happen to be great athletes just don’t hold at HB. HB insists that the athlete maintains high academic standards. Some of our graduates who are continuing their sports careers at highly regarded colleges and universities are Vanessa Smith, who plays basketball at Princeton, Nia Marshall who plays basketball at Cornell, Stephanie Poland who plays basketball at Colgate, Gabriel Moss who plays field hockey at Hamilton, Logan Paul who plays softball at Bryant University and Allison Nordell who rows at Yale University. Dedication to high school athletics requires students to learn how to prioritize their commitments and manage their time effectively in order to meet their academic goals. I personally can attest to this by my healthy obsession with rigorously organizing my planner so that I make use of every minute.
To prospective HB student-athletes and prospective HB students who may not think that they are capable of being an HB athlete, I urge you to venture with an open mind as you tour our campus and speak to our students and administration during your application process. If you believe in your heart that you are a student-athlete who has much to gain from Hathaway Brown, I hope you will be persistent in your exploration of our transformative community.
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