Many Hopkins athletes are thankful to play sports, as they serve as a distraction from their academic obligations. Emma Maldon ’22 said, “I think having a competitive outlet to release tension and collaborate with a team has helped me over the years.” Charlie Wich ’22 thinks that “[Sports] are a nice way to not focus on the stress of school.” Egan Turner ’23 shared these sentiments: “[Sports] also serve as a great stress reliever if you’ve had a tough day or feel like you have work piling up. You can just take a couple hours off and forget about all that.”
The social aspect of Hopkins’ athletics has also proved useful for athletes. Spencer Cipriano ’21 said, “Sports are beneficial to my mental health because of the brotherhood I feel with my team. I always feel like I can rely on them with anything and I’ve found that, when you rely on and trust other people, life becomes a lot more stress-free.” Ava Littman ’23 enjoys “[hanging out] with friends while doing something I like.”
School Psychologist and Hopkins Varsity Soccer coach Joshua Brant reinforced the benefits sports have on mental health: “Fundamentally, the more active sports help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression...which has been proven over and over [by scientists].” As an athlete himself, Brant agreed that “team sports especially can lead to social support, social connection, friendship, and an amazing way to have a community that you feel connected to, that stands by you, and that you stand by. ” He also stated that some athletes can use sports as “an area where [their] self-confidence and self-esteem can shine in ways they can’t in other [fields]. Sports can also be a place where people can express [themselves] in a way they don’t usually get to.”
However, some athletes find that participating in sports heightens their stress levels. Sierra Walters ’24 said, “I feel a lot of pressure from my teammates to do well and I don’t want to disappoint anyone if I miss a ball or don’t do my best in a game.” Additionally, some students find it difficult to juggle their respective sports with Hopkins’ demanding academic workload. Kaitlyn Miller ’25 stated, “To be really good and get better at [your sport] takes a lot of time and practice, which leaves me really exhausted most days.” Mira Krichavsky ’24 agreed: “[Sports] definitely detract from the amount of time I have to spend on homework, and therefore [they] worsen my sleep schedule.” Sofia Karatzas ’22 explained how the time commitment for away games, in particular, contributes to her stress: “Away games can take up a whole Saturday, and most of the time Sundays aren’t enough time to do all our [homework], which can be super stressful.” While grateful for her experience on sports teams, Walters “would like to have more of an option to compete [in Hopkins’ sports] or not.”
Brant agreed that the time commitment for competitive sports is a “downside [to] being a Varsity or JV athlete here.” He continued, “Because of the intense academics [at Hopkins] and the commute many people have, some people aren’t able to go to bed by eleven-thirty or twelve minimum.” Brant stated that this results in an “impossible situation” for many people.
However, Brant believes that there are ways people can decrease this extra stress caused by sports. He encouraged students to “manage your time well, do as much schoolwork as you can during school time and free periods.” Additionally, “long-term planning of assignments is really important, because you already have your games scheduled and the due dates of your long-term assignments, so planning this all out ahead of time is a good way to relieve stress.” Finally, for those who get extremely stressed from sports, Brant offered “dropping a class, which many people around here see as a weakness,” but is a viable option for Hopkins students. Further, “you could consider playing a lower level of that sport or playing an independent [sport].” Brant concluded, “It all comes down to finding more time, whether that’s by reducing schedule conflicts and commitments or by managing your time better and doing longer-term planning.”