Placement of Activities Block hinders athletes

By Rachel Talamo

Though the school day does not officially end on Wednesdays until 1:25, some students have found themselves double-booked with athletic commitments beginning partway through Activities block, the block designated for club meetings.

“In years past, I have had to miss Model UN for soccer a lot,” said Model United Nations (UN) Co-President and Varsity Boys Soccer Co-Captain Ryan Simpson ’13.

According to Ryan, sports directly conflict with [Model UN], which meets during Activities block.

“We have three presidents, so things were a bit easier for us,” he said, “but had we all had a varsity sport in the fall, the club could’ve functioned, but it would have been ugly. We would have gone to our international conference at McGill and made fools of ourselves because we wouldn’t have practiced.”

According to Director of Athletics Rick Forestiere ’86, the overlap of sports with clubs on Wednesdays should not be an issue.

“The crux of the matter is that I think there are very few conflicts to Activities with Wednesday game times. Kids that are really dedicated to activities [that meet during this time] don’t find this to be a problem,” he said.

But Ryan is not alone in his conflict. Vanguard Off-Campus Editor Skylar Smith ’14, who plays varsity field hockey and lacrosse, agreed that balancing sports and clubs is a recurring struggle.

“It is really a bummer to have to constantly leave Vanguard meetings early, especially since Wednesdays are the only time that we meet during the week, and we often use the entire block,” she said. “During sports seasons, I feel like I am not participating in clubs as much as I should be able to.”

Ryan also explained that Model UN is a way for him to explore his interests, but soccer has impeded him from fully doing so.

“International relations is something I enjoy doing, and I’m going to pursue it in college, so it’s obviously something I really want to take part in,” said Ryan. “Simulations are really the way to do that, but I didn’t have much time to debate the topics and sit down with students and discuss those topics. It’s only now, after the fall season, that I can really dig into it.”

Mr. Foresteire is right, though, that some athletes who participate in Wednesday clubs do not find sports to be an issue.

According to Varsity Cross Country runner Sandy Li ’14, juggling Spectator meetings with athletics has been manageable.

“I’ve had to miss Spectator meetings once or twice because of my cross country races,” she said, “[but] I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything because of my absences. If there was something important that I missed in the meeting, someone would usually tell me.”

According to Skylar, athletes in other seasons have also had to cut their Activities blocks short.

“A spring sport like crew often begins at 1:30 on Wednesdays, giving students who participate in clubs five minutes to go over to the athletic center, get dressed, and run over to the boat house. However, I’m not sure how common this issue is, given that there are other times during the week for clubs to meet.”

Because of the X block system, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, all students have a common free block to meet with teachers or attend assemblies. Consequently, some clubs have chosen to meet on these days, rather than on Wednesdays.

“Even though not [all] students face this problem, since many clubs meet during X blocks on different days of the week, the current placement of Activities block does not allow me to fully participate in athletics and school clubs,” said Skylar.

Though not all students share her conflict, Skylar finds the potential problem for students unfair.

“The fact that Activities is the designated time for club meetings, and most athletes miss part of Activities every other week, implies that students cannot be active participants in both [clubs and athletics], which, I think, does not resonate with the beliefs of the BB&N community,” she said.

According to Mr. Foresteire, moving game times on Wednesdays is not an option.

“Daylight can be an issue, and we’re always trying to squeeze so much in. I just don’t know if there’s much else we can do,” he said.

Ryan conceded that pushing back game times would not be a viable solution.

“As an athlete, I know rearranging sports schedules doesn’t really work. Plus, the later you move a game, the later kids get home, and for kids that live far away, that’s just not really feasible,” he said.
According to Mr. Foresteire, though, he and the Athletics Department would be receptive to scheduling conflicts.

“If someone’s really into an activity on a Wednesday, they should feel free to communicate with coaches. It can be explained to the coaches that if a kid needs to leave at 1:40, we should leave at 1:40,” he said.
Skylar had another proposition.

“I think that if Activities block was switched with an X block on a different day of the week, then student participation in clubs would not be compromised by athletics,” she said.

Ryan was not optimistic that this solution would influence Model UN, but thought it had the potential to solve the conflicts other clubs.

“Regardless of what the name of the free block is, Model UN always meets on Wednesdays, and it always has, so even if Activities changed to X block, we’d still meet on Wednesdays,” he said, “but if kids use X blocks for things other than clubs, then moving Activities to another day would be really beneficial.”

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