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The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The leap and its challenges from junior varsity to varsity

The transition from JV to Varsity athletics seems daunting to many athletes. New Varsity players previously on JV work to adjust and compete at the Varsity level.

The transition for many athletes from junior varsity (JV) to varsity athletics seems daunting. A lot of JV teams are so unlike varsity teams that players don’t know what to expect when they earn a varsity spot, and the transition is often choppy because they do not have prior varsity-like experience.

JV lacks a lot of the distinguishing aspects of varsity, which makes the transition tough. A JV team doesn’t often prepare athletes for the competitive and stressful environment that they will face at the varsity level, and the emphasis on perfection in varsity teams increases stress levels.

Girls varsity volleyball player and junior Serina Ohyama-Sukotjo said that JV teams like her previous JV girls volleyball team have historically been labeled to have a welcoming and relaxed environment.

“We were all close, and I made some of my best friends on the JV team,” Ohyama-Sukotjo said. “Team bonding was fun and practices were not stressful. It was a place where I knew I could relax and casually play the sport I love.”

Despite the welcoming community, there are drawbacks to JV. Girls varsity field hockey player and junior Anna Dencker said the skill difference between JV and varsity is a major one.

“It was harder to adjust because of the higher quality of players you face on varsity. The skill level is much higher, and everything about the game is faster and you have to be stronger. We did have two weeks of practice though, where the coaches and long-time varsity players helped us new players adjust, which was really helpful,” Dencker said.

Some sports programs work to create an environment on JV that is similar to varsity. This means that practice intensity is not as different, and coaches are harsher, but this setup is not common. Senior boys varsity soccer player Tony Zhang said that in the soccer program, JV is usually for the players who are not good enough for varsity, and a lot of the players get stuck because JV doesn’t help them improve.

“A lot of players don’t make varsity until senior year, where they don’t play much because they aren’t improving and they aren’t prepared for the varsity level. A majority of varsity skill doesn’t come from the JV program but the talent they got from previous teams. A lot of my current varsity success has come from training with my varsity friends and a lot of work outside of JV,” Zhang said.

Ohyama-Sukotjo said the expectations at the JV level versus the varsity level are a lot different.

“Practices didn’t necessarily mean less than they do on varsity, but the expectations we were held to are lower,” Ohyama-Sukotjo said.“On varsity, we are expected to perform at a certain level and this could be stressful and nerve-wracking but also helpful because it forces you to work harder and reach higher levels to earn your playing time, something that generally isn’t a word on JV.”

Another major difference is the commitment to the team. Varsity games mean a lot more than JV games, and the overall intensity is much higher.

“You are working towards the tournament, so every game matters a lot more and you have to put in work everyday. It is also more time-consuming than JV. We have Saturday practices and more games. Personally, the jump from JV to varsity was pretty big,” Dencker said.

Ohyama-Sukotjo said volleyball also expects more commitment at the varsity level.

“Practices are a lot more intense, and every play means a lot more. We practice six times a week and practices are usually longer than JV. We are still close and the team is connected from bonding but there is more of a sense of competition and everything is much more serious than JV,” Ohyama-Sukotjo said.

Zhang also sees the difference in the community of JV and varsity.

“Varsity is a lot closer. Everyone shares a passion for the game and most of the team are close friends. There is more bonding than on JV, where some people care a lot more than others and overall, varsity just feels stronger and more of a place you can lean on for support than JV,” Zhang said.

Dencker said the most important thing to remember if you are new to varsity is to remain confident and always try your hardest.

“You are there because your coach saw something in you and thinks you belong, so there is no reason to not think highly of your playing,” Dencker said. “If you make a bad play, shake it off and move on. If you are trying your hardest, you will play well and there will be nothing to worry about.”

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