The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The mental game

Athletes reflect on their seasons and how they are affected both mentally and physically
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Photo by Lizzie Fortino
Beatrice Carr (11) preparing to run a cross country race on Sep. 16.

CROSS COUNTRY

At the start of her sophomore year, Beatrice Carr (11) felt as though she was missing something in her high school experience. Being part of a team environment. She had been running in her free time for about a year, so her friends encouraged her to join the Cross Country team. 

Beatrice Carr (11) running during a cross country race. (Photo by Lizzie Fortino)

“I went into the locker room and I was talking to my friend about maybe joining and everyone around was cheering and it made me feel really good,” Carr said. “It felt like a little family and it still does again this year.”

But during winter training for track and field, she unexpectedly fractured the tibia bone in her right foot due to overuse. Carr was in a boot for about eight weeks and wasn’t able to run for her winter training or track season in the spring. 

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Now as a junior, she’s coming off the injury and starting to get back into running.

“It has definitely been much harder than joining in the first place, just because I haven’t ran for a while,” Carr said. “It was very painful for a while, but I’m starting to feel better on my runs.”

Starting back this season, Carr’s goals are to support her teammates and take better care of her body. Even though she currently doesn’t feel as confident in her athletic performance, Carr believes that the most beneficial role she can have is to support everyone on the team.

“Adversities you have don’t define you,” Carr said. “It’s how you respond to them. It’s more important that you stay positive and have a growth mindset so that you can do better next time and support your teammates in the meanwhile.”

GIRLS SWIM AND DIVE

Sophia Fickies’s (11) dad was the men’s water polo coach at Michigan State University from 1997-2007, so she grew up around water sports. She learned to swim when she was two an

Sophia Fickies (11) finishes her swim race at a home meet against Holt on Sep. 28. (Photo by Nina )

d started competing in elementary school. 

“I never really chose it,” Fickies said. “I was just placed into it and then I’ve just stuck with it.” 

The sport means a lot to Fickies because it’s been an integral part of her life for so long. 

“The friendships there keep me happy, and the sport makes me feel a sense of accomplishment,” Fickies said. “I just love doing something well, especially in swimming where I can see my times getting better as the season progresses.”

But, as Fickies has become more committed to the sport, she’s noticed that it has a negative impact on her mental health. Having 15 hours of practice after school, weekly, as well as morning practices starting at 5:30 a.m., proved to be a challenge for her. She felt her motivation and love for the sport falter because as she was overworking herself, her mental health deteriorated.

This season, Fickies main goal is to stay mentally healthy and happy. She wants to ensure that she’s prioritizing herself over the sport, because she feels as though she’s struggled with that in the past.

“I’ve learned most that when you’re in a hard situation, like the middle of swim season, that being around the right people and just being around your friends, really can lift you up and help you through it.”

BOYS TENNIS

Henry Mahler (11) had played only lacrosse for the majority of his life. However, during the fall, his athletic focus changes to tennis. After being on the tennis team for two years, Mahler said that the experiences that he gained were something he had never encountered before.

“I just wanted to stay active in the fall,” Mahler said. “I tried cross country in middle school and it was pretty tough, and in my opinion, football is just too big of

Henry Mahler (11) serves the ball in a singles tennis match on Sep. 21 against Seaholm. (Photo by Nina)

a commitment. So, I settled with tennis.”

Mahler enjoys being able to come to training because he feels as though he doesn’t have to take the sport as seriously as other tasks in his life. For Mahler, the main goal in playing tennis is to improve his mental and physical health. Nonetheless, he hopes to keep the amount of singles matches he loses very low. 

“I just enjoy being around the team, I think we have a pretty good chemistry,” Mahler said. “To not stay in my house for too long and get exercise helps keep my mind off things.”

During the spring season, when Mahler is playing lacrosse, the mindset during his games is completely different. Lacrosse is a team sport, which is very different from the singles games he plays in tennis. Mahler noticed that his mental game has strengthened due to tennis.

“I’m a hard worker,” Mahler said. I hustle for every ball, [because] even though it’s a team sport overall, you’re out there alone. You have to really learn to not get down on yourself, and that’s not something you typically discover when playing other team sports.”

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About the Contributor
Nina VanOtteren, Photography Editor
Nina is a member of the Class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait. This is her second year on staff as a junior. Nina’s favorite thing about journalism is being able to inform others about things going on through different perspectives. When she is not in the newsroom, Nina loves skiing, spending time with friends and playing soccer.

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