by Eva Midura, Staff Writer, November 2021
The energy inside Richardson Gym is tangible as the crowd of kids press along the doors and walls. Underneath the hoop, they erupt with whoops and shouts of excitement following a buzzerbeater to win the game. The Boys Junior Varsity (JV) Basketball team’s bench streams onto the court in celebration over the 60-57 score win against the St. Sebastians. Later, this climatic game would be documented in the four-part mockumentary created by then-senior Calvin Kocher (N’ 21). Following a string of losses, the win represented the grit, hard work, camaraderie, and sheer love for a sport that JV teams exemplify.
At Nobles, a large part of the student body is highly invested in sports, competing on multiple teams throughout the year and in club teams during off-seasons. Many of these athletes are looking to pursue their athletic commitments at the collegiate level and are very devoted to their respective sports. Either way, it produces a lot of stress over placing on varsity, JV, or thirds teams at Nobles, where the try-outs are very competitive. Moreover, even after making a varsity team, there is a lot of pressure to perform at a high level, earn playing time, and be impactful. JV field hockey player Lydia Gatnik (Class II) said, “At the varsity level, there’s a lot more pressure to be a star athlete.” After long, rigorous school days, these demands can be really taxing on students.
For this reason many students feel similar to Gatnik, he said, “I feel like a lot of people think that it’s embarrassing to be on a JV team, but it’s honestly one of the best experiences.” Not making a varsity team can be really disappointing, but getting the opportunity to be a part of a JV team at Nobles isn’t. It shouldn’t feel discouraging or embarrassing, as it allows for tremendous growth, both in skill set and appreciation of the game. James Lapsley (Class I), agrees. He said,“[Boys JV Basketball] finds a way to eliminate some of the stresses more competitive teams, like varsity, provide, through our strong team chemistry and the idea that everyone has each other’s backs.” Bonding over the value that, no matter the score, outcome, or personal performance, a great group of teammates supports you is and one of the best parts of JV athletics.
Sydney Morrison (Class I) emphasizes how the relaxed nature of JV teams is one of her favourite parts. She said, “I love the fun environment and traditions of JV soccer because we get to play soccer without intense pressure to win games or perform well. We connect with one another at the beginning of practices with “Cookie Crumb,” and I love to bring snacks to practice and play music to lighten the mood.” Activities like Cookie Crumb, where everyone shares the best and worst parts of their day, allows teammates to take time and relate to one another over shared experiences. This time is often not available in varsity teams’ more intense practice schedules.
Since JV is a level below varsity, the impression is often that athletes are less committed or dedicated to their sports, but Morrison makes it clear that’s not the case. She said, “I think JV sports can be underappreciated, especially because everyone on our team works so hard and commits so much time and energy.” In some cases, there are athletes on JV who are new to or unfamiliar with a sport, and it takes a lot of effort to remain committed and enthusiastic, but JV teams lend a space where kids can develop their skills and enjoy learning more about the sport.
Claire Mao (Class I) said, “Running isn’t exactly fun on your own, but the ability to run with a team of kind and supportive people is why we choose Nobles Girls Cross Country (XC).” The Girls Cross Country team has a reputation for being extremely inclusive and fun. Regardless of whether you’re running competitively, to place at meets, or just for fun, the team is dedicated to improving at any pace and helping their teammates improve and feel more comfortable. “I appreciate how JV XC is such a large group, so you can run in a pack that doesn’t feel competitive—instead, you help pull each other along,” Mao said.
Junior varsity teams offer an amazing community that is less stressful and intense than varsity teams, but should be just as well appreciated, as they provide an inclusive and exciting environment to simply enjoy your sport.