Later start time forcing athletes to prioritize sports, schoolwork

Cornelius Cambronero and Ruth Mulugeta

The day starts with a piercing alarm ringing before the sun even comes up. With the new later start time for high schools, three Cleveland sports team moved to morning practices before school.

While students are starting to see the start times as a bad change to personal productivity, senior soccer player Weyni Teklu is learning to see the brighter side.

“Ever since the time change, I’ve realized that I can also do homework or college research before school,” Teklu said. “It’s helped me manage my time, and I think that’s a positive aspect … for me personally.”

With girl’s swim and golf moving practices to early morning, athletes and coaches say it’s been nothing but helpful.

“Since we have morning practices, we can now have practices before our meets, which is really helpful,” senior swimmer Charlie Cox said.

Golf coach Ryan Kastl said moving practices to mornings helps his players become active in other after-school programs that they couldn’t be involved in with afternoon practices.

“What this does for the students is it allows them to be a part of the many other clubs and activities that they’re involved in at the school,” he said.

The Seattle School District leaned towards a later start time for high schoolers based on research provided by the National Sleep Foundation, which stated that students are able to be more awake and focused in class with more sleep. Research showed that students had gotten fewer than seven hours of sleep each night with the 7:50 a.m. start time last school year.

While there may be many positives the later start time, some student athletes say the later schedule has taken a toll on their sleep schedule and social life.

“It’s hard to get sleep,” said Cox. “Some days cause I’m super tired, I forget things I’d usually remember [to] grab in the morning.”

Teklu rode with her mother every morning to school last year, but with the new start times, by the time she wakes up, her mother is already gone.

“I don’t get to see my parents a lot,” Teklu said. “By the time I come home, my mom is still at work. It’s hard, especially in the morning, because I don’t get and see them as much.”

Although the later start time shifted practice times for some, all teams still deal with early dismissal for travel time, only now they are riding in rush hour traffic.

“I think the biggest negative impact is that the students have to leave so early because of the lack of transportation ability,” said Kastl. “If the students could be leaving as close to three o’clock as possible, that would be very beneficial but I know that is very difficult to do.”

Even though the new start time doesn’t take a toll on her social life, senior Mariah Fernandez often feels drained, causing her to procrastinate more.

“Having to sit through classes for all that time and then having to go straight to soccer practice, then after going home, doing homework, eating and get ready for the next day just takes a lot of time causing me to go to sleep at a later time,” said Fernandez.

The later start time not only affects a student athlete’s social life but also their physical and mental well-being. Having to sit through 80-minute classes then go to practice takes a toll on the body, leaving athletes feeling sluggish by the end of the day.

With practices being shifted, athletes being pulled out of school early, and feeling drained after the long day, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see a dip in a team’s performance. But Cleveland’s fall sports teams adapted to the change and used it to their advantage.