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May 27, 2011 > Achieving the White Sweater

Achieving the White Sweater

Submitted By Casey Jennings

When I was in sixth grade, I was on the Niles Elementary basketball team. The day we won the city championship, my coach Jeff Schrieber told me about the Washington High School White Sweater Award. He told me how hard it was to play three sports each year and to get eight varsity letters by the time I graduated. He also said I was the only kid he knew that had a chance to win the Sweater. From that time forward, through junior high school and into the ninth grade, that Sweater became a goal that I wanted to achieve. I did not realize at the time just how hard it was going to be to make that Sweater mine.

There are so many variables that have to fall into place to be able to play that many sports in a three-year period. First and foremost, you have to be athletically able to play on three varsity teams for the next three years. Luckily for me, I was given the talent and the ability to make those teams. That being said, for me, that was the easiest part of making my goal possible.

Keeping my grades up from beginning to end is what I had to work hardest at. Playing sports involves practices every day, starting in June for football, concluding at the end of May in baseball. When was I going to study? I found that most practices ended about 7 p.m. with weekend practices occurring more than less. I would come home, shower, eat dinner with my family, then hit the books, sometimes till midnight or 1 a.m. You cannot be tired and study well. And forget about a normal social life. But I found that I like sports, getting good grades became a challenge to me. I didn't always succeed. Chemistry my junior year involved tutoring three times a week along with algebra II tutoring twice a week, and I still ended up in summer school for chemistry (I got an A though). The hardest part of studying was sitting still (not part of my make up) after a long school day and a hard practice. The challenge in the end was worth it. I am hoping to finish with a 3.5 overall GPA.

After grades, staying healthy became a constant worry. I watched as teammates began to have injuries such as broken ankles, broken arms, separated shoulders and, oh yeah, the simplest things like the flu. As a kid, I suffered from severe migraines. After trips to the emergency room, my doctor realized sleep and hydration were things that I needed to work on. I had to work hard to make sure I ate properly, drank plenty of water, and got my rest, which wasn't easy with my sports and study schedule. Stretching and exercise was also necessary if I was going to avoid sports injuries. In the end, while I worked hard, a certain amount of luck was also needed.

Finally, to say that my social life was limited is an understatement. Summer vacations were spent on the football field; Christmas breaks were spent on the basketball court; and spring breaks were spent on the baseball diamond at various tournaments. My friends were always mad because I couldn't do as much with them as they wanted. Luckily my teammates many times became friends. They understood the schedule. My girlfriend, who was a cheerleader, had to work hard just like me, so that helped keep us both busy. I am not saying I was happy giving up a social life, but I was able to work around it, and still have fun. Besides, being busy kept us out of trouble, which allowed my focus to stay on school and sports. Good study habits, learning to schedule my day, keeping myself healthy and learning to persevere are all going to help me in life; they are also going to get me the White Sweater. It was all worth it.

Editor's note: Jennings was awarded with the White Sweater award at Washington High School on Thursday, May 19.

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