Eighth-Graders Get a Taste of the High School

By Chloe Sampere

Byram Hills has many great athletes in their athletic program, and therefore, it is difficult for younger students to obtain a spot on one of the various sports teams. However, there are always a few underclassmen and even some 8th graders who find themselves competing at the varsity level. I spoke with a few of these young athletes who had the opportunity to participate at the varsity level to find out about their unique experiences!

I first spoke with freshman Olivia Picca and sophomore Sophia Villani who are both members of the girls varsity basketball team. Olivia made the team as an eighth-grader and felt “that it gave [her] the experience for [her] future high school years, and [that she] formed strong bonds with the players.” Olivia explained that her teammates “took [her] under their wing and showed [her] the high school way.” Sophia Villani made varsity basketball as a freshman and added that “it was very fun because [she] made a lot of new friends and the girls on the team became like a family.” Overall, both girls had a fantastic time playing for the team and felt that not only was it a great opportunity to advance their play, but it was also a great way to meet new people who they otherwise may not have known.

Both Sophia and Olivia added that “eighth graders should also be able to make JV because this year, [the girls’ basketball program doesn’t] even have a JV team since there weren’t enough players. If [the school] allowed eighth graders to play on JV sports, [the girls’ basketball program] would have been able to have more people involved in basketball and have a JV team.” This is a large problem in the Byram Hills community, in which there are often not enough players to form JV teams, and many times when there are JV teams, they are very small. Allowing eighth graders to play at the JV level proves to be a solution for this problem. Mrs. Croke, a gym teacher at the high school, added, “I believe we are the only school and column in Class A that does not allow 8th graders to play on the JV level, and I think that it is really hurting our sports programs; especially our female programs where JV teams are not being able to be fielded because we don’t have enough players for them.” She feels as though, “Byram Hills needs to get in line with the rest of New York State and allow [eighth graders to play on JV level teams].” Though this may be a change in the Byram Hills athletic program down the road, for now, Byram Hills restricts JV teams to athletes in 9th-11th grade.

Next, I spoke with Chloe Weissman and Mariana Colabello. They are both freshmen at Byram Hills High School who made the girls varsity soccer team this past fall. Chloe felt as though “the experience was really amazing because it was a great way to start off school with familiar faces in the hallway. It also helped [her] improve [her] skills and taught [her] a lot of lessons on and off the field.” Mariana agreed with Chloe and elaborated, “Throughout the year it was a lot of work physically as well as time-consuming, but it was totally worth it. Overall it was great, and I can’t wait to play with them next year.”

Lastly, I spoke to Matteo Sinon, who made the boys varsity basketball team as a freshman. He enjoys being on the team because he said that “it [is] really fun and the guys who [are] on the team [are] really nice.”

Being a freshman or an eighth-grader on a varsity team can help individuals make new friends and learn about the high school through their teammates’ perspectives. When the sport falls at the beginning of the school year like soccer does, for example, this opportunity provides the freshmen with a great way to become familiar with upperclassmen and the high school, in general, before school even begins! Overall, the experience of making a varsity sport can be a great thing for someone who is just starting high school. All of the underclassmen I spoke with really enjoyed the experience of being on a varsity team as all of the older players were very accepting of these young athletes and helped to familiarize the younger students with the high school!