Almost all high school students know that the majority of freshmen do not reach maturity until the end of their sophomore year, especially in sports. In fact, the NCAA, which decides the recruiting practices for all collegiate sports, has a rule which states that for freshmen and sophomores in high school, a college coach may only send “questionnaires and camp brochures only” and athletes can “make calls to coach at athlete’s expense only.”
The NCAA realizes that freshmen and sophomores cannot make correct decisions on their own about their playing future due to their immaturity and naivety.
The naivety transfers onto the field for freshmen as most of them are experiencing this particular level of competition for the first time. By allowing freshmen to play varsity, a coach is robbing a player of valuable playing time and experience. When a player only plays five or six minutes at the varsity level instead of playing at the freshman level for the majority of the game, the player’s growth as a player and a leader becomes stunted.
“Freshmen cannot lead a team because it is overwhelming for a ninth grader. Also, the freshmen do not have enough experience of what to expect,” said varsity field hockey coach, Mrs. Elizabeth Scharff.
While Scharff noted that freshmen can contribute on a large scale to the varsity teams in extreme cases, she believes it is very rare.
For a freshman to be able to get enough experience to be able to lead a team in the future, a freshman should play freshmen sports instead of varsity sports.
“There is an awkwardness in the physical and emotional maturity between freshmen on the varsity team and the other upperclassmen,” said Mr. Roberto Figueroa, boys’ freshman soccer coach and a proponent of freshman sports.
Although there are freshmen who may have the skill needed to play at the varsity level, without experience, freshmen will stifle their growth by playing at the varsity level. Freshmen at the varsity level will lose time to mature as a player as well as valuable playing time and the experience of gaining chemistry with kids of their own age.
Overall, while there are extreme cases where freshmen might be able to play varsity, freshmen will stunt their long-term growth by playing varsity sports instead of freshmen sports.