Balancing the IB and a Varsity Sport

Article by: Liz S.

Photos by: Sandra R.

As the school year starts revving up again, it’s all hands on deck for ISM’s high school students. Between submitting Extend Essays written over the summer for seniors, learning how to wisely use the newly introduced study halls for juniors, pondering if one should enroll into Advanced Placement courses as a sophomore, and just learning how to navigate the new high school building for freshmen, the start of the year presents a lot of new challenges for our well-rested Bearcats.

You, reading this, most likely are part of this stress-sharing phenomena, or at least will be at some point in your high school career. You may be wondering, with all the stress that high school entails  on its own, how can one possibly commit to any more extra-curricular activities?


For ISM’s junior and senior varsity athletes, their school days consist of having to balance the intense demand of the ISM diploma and our very competitive athletics program. When asked about why she chose to do a varsity sport along with the first year of the IB diploma, high school Junior and soccer athlete Alex V. said that the IB and soccer, both being very demanding and rigorous on their own, help her get in the mindset of setting high standards for herself to fulfill her requirements both on the field and in the classroom. Alex notes, “Now that college is coming up quick, there are definitely high standards and a goal I set myself for this season.”

The difficulty of this, however, came as no joke as the reality of her activities made themselves clear to her in the first few weeks of school. With experience as a student athlete in sophomore year, she was able to compare the intensity of her workload now and last year. “[The workload of the IB] came as a surprise for me,” she said. “Although I can’t say much having just started it, I think it will be manageable but challenging and stressful.” Looking on the bright side however, Alex also highlighted the benefits of having to juggle the two. “Sports do act as a great stress reliever and being a part of a team is a lot of fun.”


Similar to Alex, high school Senior and varsity volleyball player Naoki emphasizes the importance of balance through strategies not only on the court, but also throughout each day filled with academic and athletic demands. He says, “I believe that it is very important for us to balance our school work and our sports, and I try my absolute best to do so, but sometimes it can still be very challenging.”

When asked to give advice to any athlete facing the same issue of finding balance, he points out that it doesn’t have to be a problem you face alone. “Talk to your coaches.” Naoki advises. “Coaches understand that as a student, academics [is] your number one priority. It won’t hurt to miss one or two practices to catch up on your school work. Also, make sure you communicate with your teachers if you think you’re behind with an assessment or anything. It is very important to let them know before it’s too late.”

With the school year only becoming more and more demanding, it’s absolutely crucial to find balance in your work and your play. Knowing yourself, acknowledging your goals, and communicating with the right people are key in maintaining your well being in high pressure circumstances such as the last few years of your high school student-athlete career.