Middle School Sports Are Back: “A Clean Slate” for Student Athletes to Grow a Passion

Justin Marciano

“My main priority,” said Milton Pineda, the WESS Middle School Athletic Director, “is to get the kids back out there and provide sports as an outlet for student athletes.”

After 18 months, Milton was worried that students had lost their playing skills, but what they really lost was the community and social aspect that comes with playing competitive sports. Even though they had sat behind a screen remotely learning for the last year, Milton thinks that “there is no struggle for student athletes on the field.” They jumped right back into sports and have proved to be strong athletes.

“Sports ease mental health and help student athletes relearn teamwork skills,” said Carlos Gonzalez, coach of the JV flag football team.

Even though students endured a year and a half of remote learning, the aspect of enjoying the sport is still there. Carlos also noted something that goes for all athletes: “No matter what sport you play, show empathy to your teammates and opponents.”

Having the opportunity to work with the JV flag football team showed me how excited the students were to get back on the field. After coming back from their 0 and 2 deficit and having one practice, this team transformed into a well-functioning machine. In the third game they were able to advance the balldown the field drive after drive and adapt to the opposing team’s strategies. On top of that, the respect they had on the field toward the other team – even though they were winning – was incredible. It showed that returning to the field wasn’t just about playing for a win, but also about building a sense of community.

So far, the fall middle school teams that are competing this year are flag football, volleyball, and cross country. Girls volleyball and co-ed flag football have games lined up for the fall season while cross country will be competing in USATF races.

The Varsity and Junior Varsity (JV) flag footballplayers were thrown directly into the season, having a double-header game one day after tryouts without having a team practice. Varsity won both games while JV was defeated in both games, but after one practice both teams came back strong. Varsity won their third game 18 to 12, while JV had a bounce back win with a landslide victory 47 to 19, having 3 quarterbacks play in the game with a combined total of 6 touchdowns.

If there was one word to describe the current student-athletes at WESS it would be resilience. Even though they haven’t played sports in a year and a half, they’ve come back stronger than ever. With every mistake they make, instead of putting themselves down about it, they learn from it and use those mistakes to mold themselves into better players and a better team. They create a team spirit that can never be broken.