While there are many differences between student swimmers, gymnasts, basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, hockey, and baseball players, they all share a common ground: they are all student athletes. Life of an Athlete is a club offered throughout the nation, and Mukwonago High School first introduced the program to the school a few years ago to bring athletes together.
“The biggest focus is getting together to support each other,” Kyle Barton, an English teacher at MHS and an LOA advisor, said. “If we support each other, we’re all going to get better.”
Kayla Smith, a junior at MHS and a varsity soccer player, first joined because she thought it was a good idea to bring the various sports teams together. She believes the club presents a unique opportunity to build a sense of community and family throughout high school athletics. Ever since she joined two years ago, Smith has attended more football and basketball games in support of other student athletes. She also has more appreciation for the work students put into their sports by interacting with people who aren’t on the soccer team.
Samuel (Sammy) Grochowski, also a junior at MHS who is a member of the cross country and track teams, became a member when he played basketball freshman year and didn’t want to be the only one on the team who didn’t attend the meetings. He attended almost every meeting.
He appreciated that it "talks about staying away from drugs and alcohol, maintaining a healthy diet and the importance of sleep."
While the program offers many tips on how to become a better athlete, it is not entirely about sports.
“It’s not all about sports, it’s about how to better improve your life and make it healthier,” Smith stated. “A lot of people think LOA is talking about drugs and alcohol. It’s also about making yourself a better person.”
Throughout the entire school year, the club has anywhere from 30 to 200 students. Most athletes show up to meetings during the season, whether their coaches require them to attend meetings or not. During off-seasons, such as between fall and winter sports, fewer students attend. Regardless of how many students are part of the club, it provides a positive peer influence.
“It’s a good group where they can find common ground with kids they might not normally find common ground with,” Barton observed.
As a student member, Grochowski would suggest that all athletes join LOA. “It’s a large group with a positive atmosphere. You can become a better person to help create a better school.”
Barton also prompts students to go once just to get a feel of the environment. “If students have been hesitant to come to a meeting, I encourage to come and see the positive energy here and give it a try.”
While I am not an athlete anymore, I wish I would have known more about the program while I was on the swim and track teams my freshman year. I have always felt a divide between athletes and students who are part of arts programs or other academic teams.
If more people join this club who are a part of soccer and jazz band or any mix of academic and athletic teams, MHS will have more school pride and spirit.