RePrint Opinions: Junior-Varsity Injustice?

By Portia Inzone ’20

Within most Loomis sports, JV teams work to prepare their athletes for varsity. The coaches stress technical skills, drills, and activities, creating a motivating environment that stimulates improvement. JV acts as a booster for varsity, and encourages the athletes to think of JV as a temporary assignment. However, I have heard from many students that they feel JV teams fail to prepare them for varsity, either based on coaching or a team dynamic.

JV sports are often coached by teachers or faculty who have other commitments on campus, so the coaching itself isn’t always as technical or rigorous. Additionally, from going to various games and practices, I have seen how a low-intensity team nature works against those who hope to move up to the varsity level; often instead of the coaching limiting the JV athletes, the low competition level between teammates ultimately makes it a lot harder for them to improve. Therefore, an overall attitude of the team sometimes stifles or discourages more passionate athletes, damaging the JV reputation and hurting their chances to move up to varsity. While the varsity team does invite many JV athletes to play for their team, the JV mindset hinders this selection–the group mentality suffers, poorly reflecting on the competent athletes.

Contrarily, Mr. Zavisza, coach of boys varsity hockey, says, “when it comes down to it though, every player on JV is in control of their own approach. If they put their best effort on the ice every practice and every game, are a good teammate, are coachable, and trust in the process they are going to get better regardless of how well the team does or how strong the team culture is.” He illustrates how a varsity-equipped athletes stand out regardless of the environment they are in. Similarly, Mr. Stewart, coach of girls varsity basketball, says, “Playing JV basketball COULD prepare athletes for varsity level basketball if the athlete has the requisite experience and patience to play JV basketball for more than one year. Unfortunately, because we see young athletes with good basketball potential continuously giving up the sport, the level of JV basketball play has, in some years, been at a beginner’s level.”

Although some students doubt their potential to improve from certain JV sports, I would have to agree with Coach Zavisza and Stewart. With engaged students and coaches, the teams foster athletes and strengthen their abilities to increase their chances of making varsity in future years. The Loomis athletic department often does a fantastic job of polishing JV athletes for varsity, and a team mindset cannot sell an athlete short.