Fight to the finish

Students compete against each other in their strive for success

Competition: the fire that fuels victory individually and as a team.

Girls’ varsity basketball coach, Marcelo Enriquez, believes that there is a high level of competitiveness on the team due to the athletes’ devotion to the sport.

“Competition definitely motivates them to want to be the best that they can be and their deep passion for the game too,” Enriquez said. “They’re just constantly challenging themselves on the court because of that. I believe that’s a big reason on why we’re so successful.”

As the competitiveness of the girls’ varsity basketball team has grown, college scouts have taken into account their competitive nature, according to Enriquez.

“I’ve had college coaches come on saying some positive things about how competitive our girls are at practice,” Enriquez said. “They’ve said comments like, ‘You don’t really see this competitiveness of your [athletes] at other high schools.’”

Because students are starting to play sports at younger ages, they tend to become more skilled and competitive, Enriquez believes. Similarly, most of the players on the girls varsity volleyball team have been playing since the age of 12 on club teams, leading them to gain a competitive edge earlier, according to coach Tommy Chaffins. The team is ranked number eight in the country.

“I think we have some tradition of success that makes people want to play here and come here to play,” Chaffins said. “We live in that hotbed of Southern California volleyball, so our program has attracted a lot of great players that want be surrounded by other great players too.”

However, playing full-time at an earlier age increases an athlete’s chance of overuse injuries as they account of 7.7 percent of injuries in high school athletes alone, according to moveforwardpt. This may lead to athletes feeling “burnt out” as Chaffins believes.

“I’ve never had these overuse injuries or any surgery of any kind, and I played a lot of sports in my youth such as baseball, volleyball, soccer and tennis,” Chaffins said. “But now, you got student athletes having Tommy John surgeries from the overuse in the elbow while these kids are in high school and that’s nuts.”

Because of the limited spots on the team, the girls’ varsity basketball team illuminates their competitiveness through their aggressiveness, according to junior Anna Johnson.  

Pushing for too much competition is overwhelming for anybody, but you have to be mentally tough in order to hold your own out there. Everyone is competing for their spot in the lineup, so you have to bring your A-game everyday,” Johnson said. “You have to play both offense and defense to your full capacity or else you’ll be benched.”

On the girls’ varsity volleyball team, spots are “fought for” and earned at practices, senior Lundy Glave believes.

“It can be stressful because you don’t want to make a mistake and fear that you would be taken out. It’s fun, but our team is really competitive,” Glave said. “Like our couch always says, ‘There’s so much depth in our bench,’ which is true. Even though it’s hard [stand out], there are opportunities too.”

Through the competitiveness required for basketball, Johnson finds herself pressured to always perform her best.

“My starting position can be taken away at any time by my coaches if I don’t perform to their standards or even to my own standards,” Johnson said. “I’m constantly running through all the things I need to accomplish in my mind to keep my spot.”

With a competitive environment promoting hard work, Chaffins believes that RUHS prepares students for the future.

“Life is a competition. I feel people who pout about their spot on a team are going to do that later in life. If you don’t like your spot on a team, then go to drills, come early and even stay after you find extra reps. You can make the coaches play you,” Chaffins said.

Although competition is a source of motivation, Enriquez believes that a student should not “overdo it,” or else it may become unhealthy.

“As long as it’s kept on the court, you’re not obsessed with it and it’s not keeping you up at night, then we’re okay,” Enriquez said.

A competitive environment helps a student grow and become mentally stronger according to Johnson; however, balance is needed.

“You learn to not back down when obstacles come your way, either in life or on the court. Sometimes though, competition can get in the way of relationships,” Johnson said “Too much competitive energy can cause turmoil on teams and promote negative energy.”

Nonetheless, Johnson believes that for sports such as basketball, competition is necessary. However, it may also affect relationships between teammates because of the “unconscious viciousness” of the game, Johnson believes.

“I honestly don’t enjoy competing too hard with my teammates because they are my sisters on and off the court,” Johnson said. “However, I do motivate myself to push my own boundaries everyday.”

Because of the girls’ varsity volleyball team’s CIF win, the team is held to higher standards, causing them to become more competitive as senior Jylen Whitten believes.

“I don’t think the team feels pressure because of past wins, I think we use it more as motivation to push ourselves to do even better than we did before,” Whitten said.

In spite of the outcome of any game, Enriquez hopes that every athlete will keep a positive mindset.

“Take everything in stride. Remember that it’s just a game and keep that in perspective,” Enriquez said. “You know what, at the end of the day, you go home to your family that loves you and your teammates and staff that care about you. Hopefully, we’re all in it for the right reasons, which is that we love doing what we do because we enjoy it.”