Arlington Career Center | 816 S. Walter Reed St. | Arlington, VA | 22204

ACC Chronicle

ACC Chronicle

Arlington Career Center | 816 S. Walter Reed St. | Arlington, VA | 22204

ACC Chronicle

Realities of Being a Student-Athlete at ACC


ACC is a school famed more for its unique academics than for its athletic programs. It’s well-known that our school only has one sport: ultimate frisbee. However, students are able to participate in regular high school sports at their home schools while attending ACC for academics. As a member of the Wakefield volleyball team, I am fully committed to making both school and sports work for me. However, I believe anyone who wants to compete at their homeschool should be aware of the challenges.

Student-athletes have to think about timing. At most comprehensive high schools in Arlington, sports practices take place after school starting as early as 3:30PM. At ACC, a regular school day ends at 3PM, but some buses depart from our building as late as 3:20PM. Given this time frame, it’s unrealistic to expect that us ACC students could make it to a 3:30 sports practice on time at their respective home schools. This was more of an issue in the school years before 2022 when ACC school days dismissed students at 3:10PM, making it even harder for student-athletes commuting to other schools to attend their practices. During the years when our school days ended at 3:10PM, several students were reportedly kicked off of their teams because they weren’t getting to practice on time, disregarding the fact that for most students, it was out of their control. After the dismissal time changed, students faced fewer issues, but other struggles continued. Though the times have changed, what does the life of an ACC student who plays sports at their homeschool look like? 

The commute to and from high school sports events is complicated enough for students who attend one of the three comprehensive high schools in Arlington. However, it’s even more difficult for ACC students commuting to their home schools every day for practices. Emory, an ACC sophomore and member of the Wakefield rowing team, expresses the struggles of her commute for rowing practices every morning: “My mom has to drive me into DC every morning. Depending on traffic…they close off certain roads after a certain point in the morning. So around 7 am, a direct route to the boathouse is closed off. Then, in order to get to school from the boat house, I have to get picked up a couple blocks away because the roads were closed and I’ve been late a couple times getting [to school.]” 

Emory describes her typical week as exhausting and very busy. Wakefield’s rowing practices are held on the Anacostia River in DC, a 20 minute drive from ACC. In addition to the struggle that the distance brings, the time of a typical practice is before school: starting at 5AM. Emory’s, and most other student-athlete’s schedules, are very demanding because of the time commitment for daily practices and events. 

I know what many of you may be thinking: “Well, they signed up for it! They should be prepared for the commitments they made.” Well, yes, we did sign up for this, but that doesn’t discount the struggle. A typical nine-to-five has nothing on us student-athletes; our time commitments are incredibly burdensome. Most athletes at ACC run on a seven-to-seven schedule because they often don’t have the option to go home in between school and practice; unless you’re on the rowing team, then your schedule is a little bit different. On a typical day: I wake up at 6:30AM, Leave for school shortly after 7AM, commute to my home school at 3PM, help out with JV practices until 4:30PM, practice with my team (varsity) until 7PM, then drive home. As described, our daily schedules are hectic, leaving us with little time to work on academics.

Several student-athletes suggest that participating in high school sports takes away from their academic life, and I agree. On every weekday I spend at least 12 hours away from home without time to complete schoolwork; a significant difference in the amount of time students who don’t participate in highschool sports have to do schoolwork. Student-athletes are at a great disadvantage because of their very demanding schedules. Emory shares a similar opinion, adding “I go to sleep earlier and I’m exhausted.” However, going to sleep earlier isn’t a viable option for many student-athletes. With only the evening hours to complete homework, we’re often left with hours of schoolwork and very little time for rest. 

Having these two lives takes an incredible amount of time management skills. While having a very limited amount of free time, it’s important for student-athletes to spend their time wisely, especially while attending ACC. A  freshman and sophomore PE and Health teacher at ACC and coach at Wakefield for Cross Country and Track, Mr. Wright, speaks about how time management has helped him: “I think I’m decent with time management due to the fact that when I was in high school I played a sport.” Wright continued to compete in college athletics, furthering his time-management skills. Mr. Wright can attest to the realities that ACC students face when they have to commute to their sports events everyday because of his first-hand experiences.

Despite the negatives, I’m proud to be a part of the volleyball team. For starters, us student-athletes have the opportunity to expand our social circles by meeting new people through our sports. Making new friends at ACC can be difficult because our class sizes are considerably smaller than those at the comprehensive high schools; so, having the ability to expand our social circles can be really beneficial to us. Emory agrees, saying “I get to know a lot more people from different schools and my social circle’s not just Arlington Tech,” and that the social benefits are her favorite part about being a student athlete. In my own experience, I’ve met some of my best friends through the Wakefield volleyball program and that’s due to the opportunity I took to participate in sports at my home school.

To put this all simply, being a student-athlete can be tough as an ACC student with an intense workload. From the commute to the time commitment, those who attend ACC have a significantly tougher time balancing their lives, and it can take a toll on their priorities. However, there are several positives to the situation, such as making new friends and getting exercise. In my personal experience, participating in high school sports while attending ACC has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Despite the tough my tough schedule, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs. 

If you’re undecided–to play or not to play–you can make that choice knowingly.

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About the Contributor
Maggie Odar
Maggie Odar, Lead Designer, Reporter, Editor, Social Media Manager
Maggie Odar is a Junior at Arlington Tech working on website development and design for the Career Center Chronicle. She is a dedicated student with a passion for architecture and engineering-like subjects. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her two cats and listening to music.