The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

Life Beyond Competition

All athletes can sympathize with the weight of expectations. When they get to college, it only gets worse. Sometime during their high school journey, athletes must make one crucial decision: will they continue their sport in college?  

For Puyallup High School seniors like Lexi Yates and Jackson Hargis, their competitive journeys may end with high school but their sportsmanlike attitudes will never fade.  

Yates began all three—yes, all three—of her sports when she was just three years old.  

“It started when I got into my first club team for soccer, which was at 12. I really wanted to go pro,” Yates said. “I started looking at colleges I wanted to go to, but I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. I realized I’d rather still be a part of the team instead of playing, which I was okay with.”  

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With a schedule full of basketball, soccer and tennis, Yates still found time to pursue a future in exercise science.  

“The main reason I’m not doing college [sports] is because I’m currently a running start student, so I will have my associates when I graduate this year,” Yates said. “I’m going straight to one year of undergrad and then two years of master’s where I’m traveling for clinicals.” 

Yates says she based her decision to continue her sport on how she felt would best help her move on. Though she was unsure at first, Yates’ tight-packed schedule rendered it impossible for her to ever go pro.  

“I feel like the decision is, what do you feel like will help you move on? If it’s that you can’t part with your sport and you want to keep playing on an elite team, I think that’s perfectly acceptable. At the same time, it depends on how far it’s gonna take you,” Yates said.  

Even if basketball isn’t following Yates to college, the connections she forged with teammates and coaches will.  

“Sports just really bring you together. When you’re stuck with each other for two hours every single day, almost three hours, and you’re having to deal with each other, it doesn’t matter if you like each other off the court,” Yates said. “You’re still going to have that connection, even if you didn’t want it.”

Yates isn’t the only senior athlete whose college path is veering away from sports. Hargis, a swimmer, plans to attend a trade school in Seattle. The school does not currently have a swim team.  

“It’s a maritime school. Basically, they’ll train me to work on boats and work on engines and all that,” Hargis said.  

Hargis began swimming this year, trying to step out of his comfort zone before he graduated.  

“My mom was like, it’s your senior year. You got to start doing stuff that you wouldn’t normally do. And so I was like, okay, swim team,” Hargis said.  

Despite being a new athlete, Hargis quickly developed friendships and confidence within the sport.  

“I definitely want to stay friends with the people that got me to do swim team in the first place,” Hargis said. “I did meet some really cool people during the season that it would be like really nice to see them in the future.” 

Hargis’ advice for students struggling with the decision to pursue college athletics is not to hold yourself back. If it’s something that you truly love, then go for it.  

“This is my first year doing swim for high school, and I feel like I did really well. I could have done way better if I did it previous years. Because I was like, ‘I’m not ready’ or ‘I’m scared to do it’, That held me back a little bit,” Hargis said.  “So, if there’s something that you really want to do, do it as soon as you can. And if you really want to do it, just continue to pursue it for as long as you can.”

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Sienna Hanson, Staff

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