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Guide to TAS Athletics

Vanessa Tsao/The Blue & Gold

Former Blue & Gold news and sports editor Daniel Wang (‘18) reflects on his journey as a TAS athlete,
and shares his best advice for young athletes to make the most of their career.

Making the team

Competition within different sports varies throughout the seasons, but be proactive if you want to ensure a spot on the team. Train before tryouts, and ask the coaches what they are looking for and how you would fit on the team. Develop a specific skill in your sport or positive quality that forces the coaches to notice you.
“The selection process depends on the coach and the level. When I handled junior varsity in the past, potential is hugely important. Once it’s varsity, you expect that they’re developed,” Mr. Brian Tobey, former varsity boys volleyball and girls badminton coach, said. Still, skill is not everything. Coaches will look for the intangibles like coachability, a willingness to listen and a good work ethic.

Be Humble

Once you make a team, the real work starts. If you are not improving, you are doing something very wrong. Varsity basketball coach Mr. David Montgomery said that the most successful athletes “hold themselves accountable in the offseason…that’s the time to grow and change skill set.”
Once you think you are the best player on your team, or are part of the best team at IASAS, development is over. I have seen varsity players get cut the following year and teams that deserve to win IASAS lose. Regardless of who you are, you can always grow as an athlete. “If you set goals, have a good framework and have tangible mileposts, that’s something you can do to keep yourself focused,” said Mr. Montgomery. Whether it is getting into an IASAS team or winning a medal, have a reason to play. Do not become complacent.

Stay healthy

Injuries are horrible. As somebody who played through this past year with virtually nonexistent knees, I know how bad it can get. It does not hurt to start injury prevention early, and you definitely will not regret it. Twelve season IASAS athlete Kayleigh Chen (‘18) has suffered many injuries throughout her career. “I’ve had injuries severe enough to put me out of practice and games for more than half the season…some injuries were built up throughout the years,” Kayleigh said.
In order to get the best out of yourself in your respective sport, build strength, develop good eating habits and increase your flexibility. Athletics Trainer Ms. Amber Hardy said, “To reduce injury, athletes need to maintain strength and increase flexibility.” TAS has all the resources and opportunities to help you stay fit and healthy, so do not be afraid to get advice from the school’s personal trainers. I know it can be annoying, but trust me, warm up before and cool down after exercise.

Balance your life

School is already hard enough, but adding four to five practices and a game or two a week is a whole different level. Mr. Montgomery believes that the ability to balance one’s schedule and interests is essential for a TAS athlete. “Be honest to oneself and one’s teammates about priorities,” Mr. Montgomery said. “If something is a priority, treat it like one. If it’s not, acknowledge it and be prepared for the challenges with prioritizing some things over others.”
Education comes first, so finish your homework and study for your tests before your athletic obligations to focus all of your attention towards your sport. Plan out your time so you can go to the Fitness Center to maintain or improve your strength during the season and offseason. Doing everything in this guide is difficult, and it all begins with balance.

Culture wins

There is a reason why the girls badminton team has created a dynasty, winning 15 consecutive gold medals: culture. “Most of the team trains off season quite extensively; coaches and players don’t focus on polishing technique as much,” Caroline Tung (‘16), girls badminton hall of famer, said. “I was extremely lucky to play with a team of girls that were encouraging towards one another through competition.” Sure, there are “individual” and “team” sports, but in the end, every athlete at TAS is part of a team.
Teams that have a better sense of camaraderie or commitment are bound to have more success. “A lot of teams that have been together longer are groups that trust each other,” said Mr. Montgomery. “They recognize the sacrifices that they have to make together and tend to fare better.” In terms of the individual, attitude is asif not moreimportant than athletic ability. Mr. Tobey recalls that the most athletic player he has ever had was cut because his negative attitude affected the team. “For me, team culture is everything,” said Mr. Tobey.

“Ball is life”

I love winning, and I am sure you do too, but know that what you take away from your experience as a TAS athlete will be so much more than any number of medals. For coaches, sports is an opportunity for them to pass on tools that will help you succeed in life as well. “Athletics is for teaching…it’s not about winning medals,” said Mr. Tobey. “It’s an opportunity to teach hard work, teamwork and camaraderie. If you do these right, you win medals.”
Regardless of the sport, you will learn how to hold yourself accountable, how to persevere and how to be dedicated. Enjoy your time on a team, because as soon as you know it, four years will pass just like that. IASAS tournaments are unique experiences that only six schoolsin the entire worldcan have. Cherish all the hard workouts, crazy bondings and exhilarating competitions that you have remaining with the new friends that you have basically been forced to make. Just have fun.

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