by Mallory Butcher, staff writer

Above displays the standard Bio-Med student uniform of a pair of jeans, a polo, and a student identification card on top of a pair of running shoes. Specific models of running shoes have been made to aid in distance running, often used by student athletes such as Tiller and Opritza. Photo by Mallory Butcher.

MARCH 2022 — Bio-Med Science Academy has housed a multitude of athletes over the school’s ten-year run. The school has no sports teams of its own, so any aspiring student athletes must play for their home districts. Keeping up with education while participating in sports has proved to be a difficult task, according to current student athletes. Despite obstacles, however, many athletes in the community have continued to play for their home district sports teams.

“It’s kind of complicated because you have to manage your schedules,” said Natalie Opritza, a sophomore who has participated in soccer and track at her home school district of Rootstown. “There’s always going to be practices after school, so you have to make sure you have time to get there, especially if it’s right after school. It’s a little bit hard to manage, but it’s not as hard as you think it would be.”

Another sophomore athlete, Cara Tiller, reflected, “It’s definitely hard to make all of the practices, but I think it helps me connect with people from my old school more. It’s hard to work around, but it’s not impossible.”

Tiller participates in cross country, track, and basketball for Streetsboro High School. Her practices were often scheduled before Bio-Med students were released from school, causing issues with late arrivals.

Ella Wright, a sophomore from Crestwood who participates in tennis and softball, has experienced a similar issue. She described, “During tennis season, it’s a little bit of a struggle because my practices and matches start almost immediately when school gets out. I have to drive over there to do it, and then I’m late. That’s not great.”

Other than students, Miss Shana Varner, the junior Anatomy, Health, and Physical Education teacher, has been heavily involved in the Rootstown High School Girls Soccer team as an assistant coach.

“I think this year’s been really helpful because of the type of schedule we have,” Varner commented. “In the past, that had been an issue just because it was the same class for multiple days whether it was baseball season, golf season, or basketball season.… With the rolling schedule, the students aren’t missing the same classes consistently, so it’s easier for them to keep up.”

The rolling schedule Bio-Med has run during the 2021-2022 school year is called a Drop Schedule. The rotation spans three days, class periods one through four on the first day, periods five, six, one and two on the second day, and periods three through six on the final day.

In regards to the effects on Bio-Med students missing sports practices, Varner said, “BMSA students missing practices depends on the coach. I am fortunate enough to know and understand our schedule and how it differentiates from other districts. The head coach I work for is not an educator, therefore our practices start at 5:00 p.m. where other districts start right after school…. Each district and each sport works with our students differently, so it is on the student and the coach to come up with a plan for the season.”

The timing was not the only issue athletes reported; some say they perceived a social distance between themselves and teammates from their home district.

Wright continued, “It’s kind of weird because you don’t really know as many people. You were with them before, then you leave, and then you come back. They’re like, ‘Who are you?’ and you’re like, ‘But I know you.’ They have no idea who you are.”

Opritza further explained, “There’s a disconnect between being somebody who plays for your home school while going to a different school between the kids who actually go to that school since you’re not spending all of the time with your team.”

Attending a different school, Bio-Med athletes can experience issues with scheduling, time management, and social disconnection. However, students continue to participate in sports teams from their home districts for a variety of reasons.

“I like achieving goals,” explained Tiller. “Having more goals just really helps. Striving to get better at sports. That’s why I do them, and they’re fun, and they keep me healthy.”

In comparison to Tiller, Opritza claimed to continue her participation because, “I love [sports]. I love playing soccer, being able to do something with a team, and being part of something that’s not school-related.”

Varner described the benefits to athletics, concluding, “I think that being an athlete is important. It teaches you a lot about discipline at a younger age. It teaches you how to respect your coaches [and] respect your peers. It kind of sets the students up for success, I feel, and they’re getting that outside environment. A lot of students come here from different districts, so it’s nice that they have the opportunity to stay in contact and close with the kids that they grew up with.”

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