Varsity teams have influx of underclassmen

senior and junior dominated varsity sports are welcoming freshman and sophomores



The varsity football team is just one of the Granite Bay High School sports teams that has underclassmen making the cut.

Aspen Kingsley, staff writer

The United States of America is in an age with millions of students on high school sports teams, and expectations are high. Freshman athletes typically transition from the freshman team to the junior varsity team, but a handful of students are skilled enough to surpass this and instead join the varsity team straightaway. 

“I’ve played for four years,” said Lily Gruia, a sophomore on the Granite Bay High School (GBHS) volleyball team. Through persistent hard work and training, she earned a spot on the varsity team.

However, being surrounded by juniors and seniors on the team can sometimes be stressful.

Gruia admitted that in some cases she feels like she has to try harder than the upperclassmen to get play time.

“But if you try hard, and you give your best every single practice, you will be able to play as much as you desire,” Gruia said. 

Like all sports teams, there will be bad blood between some players. 

“I feel like it’s not just upperclassmen or even underclassmen. It’s just from person to person,” Gruia said. The majority of the time the upperclassmen are welcoming towards the younger athletes.

I liked my teammates and my teammates liked me,

— Cole Roth

Football is another sport which is popular among the students at GBHS.

Cole Roth is a junior on varsity football. During his sophomore year he played a few games with the varsity team; at the time he had four years of experience in the sport.

“Yes, I definitely had to try harder,” Roth said.

Fortunately, his younger age did not cause tension between Roth and his teammates.

“I liked my teammates and my teammates liked me,” Roth said.

Grade level affects more than younger athletes relationships with their teammates, it also affects if they are selected for the varsity team. But it is only one piece of the decision-making process that coaches go through.

“Yes, we definitely consider their grade level, but it’s just one of many factors we use to decide which players will be on varsity,” Tyson Frenn, a coach for varsity water polo, said. 

“It’s important that players have an opportunity to play with their peer level, but if we think the player is capable of keeping up with a varsity practice and we think they’ll contribute in games, then we’ll definitely put an underclassmen on varsity.”

Yes, we definitely consider their grade level, but it’s just one of many factors we use to decide which players will be on varsity,

— Tyson Frenn

Aside from the initial decision of which athletes make the team, age also affects the athlete’s likelihood of getting play time.

“When we determine who the starting line up is, we consider many factors, including grade level,” Frenn said. “Seniors will certainly have more experience than other grades and that’s a huge advantage. But ultimately we look for six athletes who fit what we’re trying to do tactically and who work really well together.”

The differences in experience and player compatibility are not the only factors which account for the gap in skill level typically seen between underclassmen and upperclassmen.

“Most of the time the biggest difference is their mental approach to the game,” Frenn said. 

“Upperclassmen are more experienced and know how to best prepare for practices and games. Underclassmen also tend to be physically smaller than upperclassmen, although that’s not always the case. I would say that knowledge and preparation are the biggest differences,” Frenn said. 

Athletes that have a desire to play on a team older than the standard should expect to face some challenges when pursuing a spot on the team. At the same time, students that have a true passion and love for the sport typically show that through their work ethic. As the saying goes, the key to success is hard work.