Students make rookie debuts in a new sport

Junior midfielder Doug Denby runs down the field during the game against Hillard Bradley Friday, April 1. (Photo by Elliot Goldman)

The athlete steps on the field for the first time, noticing that everyone around them is more experienced than they are. Their nerves spike, and they feel the anxiety creeping up on them. This is the experience some athletes at the high school face when they join a sport for the very first time.

Junior Doug Denby said he decided to play organized lacrosse for the first time this year.

“I played it once in sixth or seventh grade, so it wasn’t something that was completely new to me,” he said. “My dad played, so I decided to play. A lot of my friends also play lacrosse, so that helped me with my decision.”

Sophomore Kenzie Holderby picked up softball for the first time this year, a decision that she said was spontaneous.

“I never really thought about [playing softball] until this year,” she said. “It was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision.”

Holderby said a member of her family strongly influenced her decision to play a new sport.

“My cousin played softball, and that’s when I first came across the sport,” she said. “Ever since then, I’ve just thought about how I wanted to play as well.”

Sophomore Athan Young joined the swim team this year after running cross country in the fall.

Young said that he wanted to join the swim team because he liked the people and wanted to do well in a winter sport in addition to his fall sport.

“I liked my teammates, and also meeting new people that I might not have otherwise met if I didn’t participate in swimming,” he said.

Denby said he wished he would have had more experience before playing lacrosse this year.

“I could’ve had more practice coming into this year which would have been helpful, but I’m really liking it right now,” Denby said.

He said that his lack of experience resulted in some confusion over the rules of the game.

“It definitely took me a while to understand all the rules,” he explained. “I have gotten better at recognizing rules, but sometimes I come across a rule I don’t know.”

While he said he enjoys playing with more experienced players, he added that it has been challenging.

“It’s hard sometimes when I haven’t had as much practice as most of the team, but it’s fun to practice with them because it only helps me to improve faster,” he explained.

Denby said he had an embarrassing play during his first game.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I went to grab the ball after missing a pass, got pushed from behind, and rolled on the ground.”

Holderby said that while her teammates are encouraging, it is tough to play with girls who have been playing for longer.

“My teammates try their best to help everyone,” she said. “However, sometimes it does feel like people are judging you.”

Holderby added that having a good relationship with her teammates makes any difficulties easier.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s a great community.”

Denby said that many people encouraged his decision to play lacrosse this year.

“The team is awesome and really helpful,” he said. “My family is also really supportive.”

He said he also has received lots of support from his coaches.

“The coaches have helped me a lot during games and practice,” he said. “I always feel comfortable asking them for help if I need it.”

Similarly, Young said everyone around him was encouraging of his involvement in a new sport.

“My parents, friends and the whole swim team were all super supportive of me joining swim,” he said.

Denby said that his goals this season are mainly to gain more knowledge about the game and improve upon his skills. He added that he wants to continue playing lacrosse for as long as he still enjoys it.

“I probably want to play in college, probably just in a club or something like that,” he said.

Holderby said she looks forward to refining her skills for her next season.

“I definitely plan on playing next year,” she said. “My goals for this year are to succeed in catching and try my best to become a great teammate for the girls and my coach.”

Young also said that he plans to continue swimming.

“I really enjoyed it this year,” Young said. “It was especially fun for me to watch my teammates compete and cheer them on. I learned a lot from them.”

Denby said he would recommend picking up a sport in high school to anyone interested.

“It’s really fun to try something new and good for meeting new people,” he said. “It’s never too late for anyone who wants to try and play a school sport.”