Alpine skiers race out of school early to get to races


Credit: Courtesy of Mallory Leonard

The alpine ski team poses together for a picture. The team is facing scheduling issues this season and has been forced to miss school for races. “Doing ski team shouldn’t risk your grades,” captain senior Mallory Leonard said.

Hailey Robinson

Alpine skiers have been missing school and enduring long, late practices to compete in their sport as a result of the new school start times. In order to practice, these athletes may arrive back in Wayland at 9 p.m. on school nights.

“Instead of leaving right after school, we have to go home and then come back to school at 5:30 [p.m.] and go to Nashoba [Valley Ski Area], which is where we race,” senior alpine skier Melissa Tilley said. “We used to practice at Wachusett [Mountain], which is a way better mountain. Now we’re going to get home at like 9 [p.m.], and then we have to do our homework and eat food and all that stuff, so it’s such a bad system now.”

In addition to changes in their practice times, which may disrupt their home lives, alpine skiers miss the last block of school on race days.

“On Thursdays now we’re going to be missing last block for races instead of [going] right after school,” senior alpine skier LJ DiCarlo said.

Other towns have not changed their timing in accordance with the Wayland Public School system, creating another set of issues for athletes.

“[The team] used to be able to go to [the mountain] every Wednesday, but because it takes an hour or so to get there; we won’t be able to go at the same time because school gets out so late,” senior alpine ski captain Mallory Leonard said. “For the ski races, every other town mostly doesn’t have a time change, so our races are still at the same time as they were last year, but now we get out an hour later so we’re forced to leave [school] an hour and a half earlier.”

Because ski races have remained at the same time, some students feel they have experienced an academic disadvantage because they have to leave school early in order to participate in their races.

“The school time change has made members of the ski team miss more school and therefore put our grades in jeopardy,” Leonard said. “In terms of missing tests and quizzes, especially those who take AP classes [are effected]. I know a lot of kids on the team take AP Bio, and they might not be getting the same scale that everyone else does because it’s required that you take the test on the day it was assigned, so it makes things a lot more complicated for the kids on the team.”

According to Leonard, students should be able to participate in school sports without worrying about risking their academic career. Because of this risk, some athletes have decided not to return for this ski season.

“Doing ski team shouldn’t risk your grades,” Leonard said. “I know a lot of kids who aren’t doing ski team this year because of the fact that we will be missing classes and we aren’t guaranteed to have fair opportunities to learn the material.”

Overall, the alpine skiers are still enthusiastic and involved in their sport, and are not letting these challenges change their attitude in the sport. As a team, they are adjusting to the changes.

“Our coach has just been working around it and doing his best because its out of his control,” DiCarlo said. “People will probably bring their homework on the bus and try to get work done there.”

Leonard is adamant that participation in sports should not be discouraged for fear of dropping grades.

“There’s not much we can do about the time change because that’s something for the school district to decide, but it’s not fair for the kids who want to do this sport to have their grades jeopardized because of this,” Leonard said.

Although the changes have caused the team challenges, Tilley still encourages any skiers interested in a school sport to join the team.

“If anyone likes skiing I’d tell them to join because its super fun and it’s something to do in the winter if you’re bored,” Tilley said. “I think people think it’s boring or not worth it, but it’s pretty fun.”