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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

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FFA and Sports: How Do Athletes Do Both?

Emma+Jackson+sets+a+ball+during+a+volleyball+game+this+fall.+Jackson%2C+a+junior%2C+is+a+student-athlete+and+an+agriscience+student.
Fred Raymond
Emma Jackson sets a ball during a volleyball game this fall. Jackson, a junior, is a student-athlete and an agriscience student.

WOODBURY — Nearly half of Nonnewaug students are involved in the agriculture program. Being in the Woodbury FFA automatically signs up students for a large time commitment, but that doesn’t stop many ag students from participating in sports throughout the year.

They just have to be OK with long days and late nights.

“Most weeknights look like an 8:30 dinner for me,” said Emma Jackson, a junior who plays volleyball, basketball, and outdoor track. “Being a three-sport varsity athlete means practice every single day after school for practically entire year. I wanted to join [FFA] Creed Speaking, Floriculture CDE and Horticulture CDE to be more involved in the FFA, but my schedule just simply didn’t allow it.”

That doesn’t even include Jackson’s three agriculture jobs that she needs to work to stay enrolled at Nonnewaug as out-of-school agricultural experience is required to be an active ag student. This is all while having an academically challenging school year with two college-level classes and other honors classes.

“I mainly have to get all my ag hours during the summer,” Jackson stated, “with a few hours here and there during very early fall and then stating again in very late spring at the end of the year.”

Being in ag is a big responsibility. Whether a student is an officer for the FFA or not, most students deal with similar challenges. 

Many people wish they could be at two places at once, but that simply isn’t an option. Choosing what event is most important is something that many ag athletes have to deal with because ag events overlap with athletics at some point.

Kyleigh Paige posing for her photo as vice president of the Woodbury FFA chapter. The junior also plays field hockey. (Woodbury FFA)

“Being [FFA] vice president, my team would be very disappointed if I couldn’t make it to a chapter meeting,” said junior Kyleigh Paige, a field hockey player. “I sometimes have to pick and choose where I want to be and when. Since I am not a captain of the field hockey team, they are capable of running without me, but my chapter team can’t not have their vice president.”

Juggling all her responsibilities often leads to late nights.

“As vice president, I take my position in FFA very seriously, and it does include being late to some practices [and] not getting home ’til 9, even if practice ended at 4:30,” says Paige. “I love all of it, even though everything is crazy busy, but it’s all the things I love doing.”

Football has one of the time-consuming schedules to work with. Practices last from 5 until 8 p.m. after school every day. 

“Managing ag and football is working before and after the season so I can focus on one thing at a time,” says junior football player Chase Heidorn. 

There are challenges in the way of handling both, but the athletes manage those obstacles. They still show up for sports and still get the needed Supervised Agricultural Experience hours. 

“Even though many days can feel like a race, it is worth in the end,” Jackson said. “I know a busy schedule like this will help me later in life.”

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About the Contributor
Savannah Czerepacha is a junior and a first-year writer for the Chief Advocate. She is a part of the ag program and is studying aquaculture. She plays for the NHS soccer and basketball teams. She also has a pet pig named Lightning. When she graduates, she wants to go to college to study animal sciences.
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