All-Star Spotlight: Three tips for balancing school and sports

Every Tuesday and Thursday in “All-Star Spotlight,” members of the ESPNHS All-Star team tackle a hot topic in high school sports. Today, Hannah Hicks, a freshman soccer and lacrosse player at King Low Heywood Thomas (Stamford, Conn.), shares her secrets to balancing the books and sports.

Going into freshman year, I quickly realized that high school requires a lot more responsibility and commitment than middle school. For me, it meant shifting from my four-hours-per-week soccer schedule to almost 10 hours a week, more than double the practice and games. No matter what level — varsity, junior varsity, or freshman -- sports take up a lot of our time. And although I'd rather be outside playing soccer or lacrosse than studying for a math test the next day, school does come first.

With a bigger workload and less free time, here are my tricks to balancing school and sports:

1. Use a planner/calendar: I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Plan out everything from what time you take a shower to when you start your science homework. This is key to knowing how much time you have to do your homework, which can help you finish it faster.

2. Take advantage of your study halls and free periods: Sure, we would all rather be talking to our friends and doing other things while we have free time in school, but doing all your homework in school is usually easier than doing it at home. You have most of your teachers there to ask for help, and that gives you more time to chill and relax at home after sports.

3. Check your team schedule: Most schools say on their website when all the teams’ games are, and if they are home or away. If the games times aren't listed, I always like to check with my coach. When you have a game, you'll most likely get home later, so it is good to know beforehand that you won't have as much homework time.

High school isn't all balancing both sports and homework. You need to make sure that you also make time for friends and family, and, most important, yourself. If you've done three hours of homework already, give it a rest and watch your favorite TV show or kick around a soccer ball outside. Being well-organized and knowing your schedule ahead of time is hugely beneficial to your experience in high school.

Entering high school is stressful enough, but if you follow these steps I guarantee a less stressful experience.