Requirements and Waivers: Athletics in the Upper School

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Getting my athletic waiver signed for the week was the last thing on my mind. My club volleyball teammates and I had just suffered a loss. Morale was low among the players. After a brief meeting, we filed out of the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) in Atlanta to our cars and began the eight-hour drive home. When I pulled out my planner thinking about getting some quality work done, I saw my athletic waiver form and automatically let out a “Not again” sigh and slowly rolled my eyes. Picking up a pen, I meticulously filled out the form, making sure to mark “only the times when [I am] actually involved in the activity,” and I quickly said a prayer that Upper School Dean of Students Mark Palyo won’t realize my form is missing from the box until Wednesday.

The consensus among some students about the waiver is that they are “tedious,” as described by both Ashley Eastep (‘18) and Caroline Baber (‘18). My schedule on the form I turn in is roughly the same every week. “I know you’re a serious athlete,” said Palyo when asked about the waivers, “and I know that you really don’t want to have to do the waiver process, but it’s what school has in place” to ensure that the proper sports requirement criteria are being met. However, if a student athlete is going to do the exact same athletic activity outside of school weekly for multiple months, then his/her coach should perhaps just have to sign the form one time, because the current process is time-consuming and stressful for some.

Getting a waiver for out-of-school athletic activities is just a part of the debate about the two season sports requirement at Collegiate. And, in comparison to what the students pursuing theater have to do, I have little reason to complain.

I enjoy competing through volleyball, but many of my classmates don’t share my passion for athletics. Caroline Campos (‘18) was a three season athlete in Middle School, but she said, “…once I got into high school and I started doing theater, I figured out like that is something that I’m really passionate about.” Palyo somewhat understands her frustration, and that’s why “you’re allowed to get one season as a junior or senior by participating in the play.” That one season as an upperclassman is not sufficient for some students who want to participate in theater year-round. “[Collegiate is] just very sports-oriented, and one of my friends was just saying how we’re not all inclined to sports” stated Campos. And for the people who aren’t all that inclined to sports but love participating in the play and other arts activities, the current system does not help them pursue their passion. Campos continues to participate the theater productions despite the requirements, so she also participates in STAR—a tutoring and mentoring program at Quioccasin Middle School—which counts as Campos’s second athletic requirement. She’s at STAR from after school until 5:30 p.m., then she eats dinner, changes clothes, and does homework, and then she has rehearsal “every single night” from seven to nine. Campos gets home at 9:30 p.m. on most nights because of her love for the theater.

Feeling pressed for time is common among students at Collegiate, and the sports requirement certainly doesn’t facilitate part-time job opportunities. This is especially true for students interested in the theater. Campos stressed how while it’s hard enough to find a part-time job to fit in an actor’s or crew member’s busy schedule, the additional time consumption of the sports requirement makes this nearly impossible. “If people want to get jobs, they literally can’t, ‘cause…we don’t have time” she said.

In his interview for The Match with Libbie Alexander (‘18) and I, Palyo said that “Collegiate School’s philosophy is that general well-being of a student in all areas.” Yet shouldn’t that general well-being include the arts? I am a junior and I haven’t taken an art-related class since seventh grade. Collegiate students only have to get one art credit (two semesters) in the Upper School to graduate. The credits hardly seem balanced: students must take Health and Wellness, and complete their yearly two season sports requirements, but they are only required to take one year of art. Campos thinks that her “passions are seen on a different scale” than the passions of an athletic student, and I agree with her assessment.

The spring play, Lanford Wilson’s Book of Days, is this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Oates Theater, and I plan on going to show my support for Campos and her fellow thespians. “You should come see [the play]” she encouraged me. Tickets are being sold online and in the cafe during both lunches this week.

Read Libbie Alexander’s alternate perspective on Collegiate’s two-sport requirement HERE. 

Featured image courtesy of Collegiate School.

About the author

Eva Whaley is a junior at Collegiate.