Student-Athletes Balance Academics with Athletics

One word describes Jake Besch’s high school journey: determination.

Besch is an example of a student who defies the assumption that athletes and academics are like water and oil.

He is a National Honor Society (NHS) member with a perfect ACT score, 4.0 GPA and a vision for a career in finance.

Ironically, his inability to make the soccer team his junior year didn’t necessarily reflect his character.

“I think it comes down to drive and knowing that I want to be successful, especially academically,” Besch said.

His determination allowed him to pursue opportunities running cross country, which influenced and ultimately earned him a spot on the soccer team the following year. Without compromising his academic integrity, Besch balanced his development of leadership skills in soccer with his  academic achievements. He agreed his experiences and support positioned him to “kick” and score in both areas.

Besch emphasized the importance of earning a spot on the soccer team again this year.  

“My hard work in the summer definitely paid off,” Besch said. “I’ve always been someone who gets good grades and takes pride in it.”

Besch also noted his soccer team was a great support regardless of sports interests or academics.

“Realize, there are some late nights that you have to push through, and I’ve stayed up to 3 a.m. before,” Besch said. “You have to stay focused, work hard and balance your time.”

Jalen White, senior, participates in basketball, track and NHS. He said prioritizing and reserving ample time for studying is crucial to keeping up with classes during the season.

“We don’t get a lot of study halls, so after practice I go home and do homework for two hours until I have to go to work,” White said. “Maybe coming in and going to the Library in the morningtry to make the most of the time you have.”

Chris Kenny, soccer coach, said students need to challenge their brains and bodies.

“It’s all about the work,” Kenny said. “You have to sacrifice things. After practice, you have to go home and spend an hour, or two or three just studying. If you want to be good, that’s what it requires.”

Kenny and other administrators celebrate the well rounded students, including Besch and White.

“We have really been blessed that we have a lot of high-achieving kids, they set the standard for everyone else,” Kenny said. “This is the expectation for the best that people can do.”