BHS student-athletes struggle to balance athletics with academics and social lives


For many athletes, summer is a key opportunity to train and improve before the upcoming school season. However, athletes’ commitment to their craft can often impact their life outside of their sport during the summer, and many have to make tough decisions that can heavily impact their social and academic lives. Amani Shea, a BHS senior on the basketball team, used this past summer to improve his craft like never before. He spent most of his time at the YMCA, with a normal summer day usually consisting of putting up 200-300 shots in the morning, then lifting weights in the afternoon. “This summer was the most I’ve worked out,” he said. Shea also hooped for Arsenal, an Amateur Athletic Union team, for a good portion of the summer. 

All this time dedicated to basketball in the summer left little room for other activities, so Shea had to make some hard choices, especially regarding his social life. “I’ve definitely had to dodge my friends because I had basketball workouts, and I definitely couldn’t go to parties and stuff,” said Shea. “I couldn’t get no job, which I was mad about, because I wanted to make money, but basketball’s more of a priority right now for me,” he said. 

Jadon Redman, a senior, was also faced with a similar situation. While he had been running track and field his junior year, he wanted to give football a try, so in the spring, he signed up for the team, and began to practice with them in the summer. However, he was faced with a dilemma. He also had a job as a camp counselor at a Cal Youth Camp, which went Monday through Friday, 8 hours a day. Although this left little time for football, he tried to make it work. “I left camp at 4:00, and then I got to practice around 5:15,” he said. He even stayed for an hour after practice everyday to make up for the hour he had missed. However, he soon realized he couldn’t keep this routine, so he decided to stick with his job. “When I’d come home, I’d just be absolutely exhausted, and I couldn’t really get up for work the next day,” said Redman. “I knew I had to drop one of the two.” 

Camille Jacala, a captain on the girls volleyball team, practiced three times a week for the volleyball team, but she was still able to find a balance and make room for her social and academic life. “This summer was different for me because I didn’t play club volleyball,” she said. “Every summer I would have club season that went until July, and would attend club volleyball camps and coach for the rest of the summer. This year I spent more time visiting colleges, working as a camp counselor, and spending time with friends,” said Jacala. 

Shea remains confident that his sacrifices this summer will pay dividends. “I think [the sacrifice] is definitely worth it,” he said. “I think the hard work is paying off.” Shea transferred back to BHS this year after transferring to El Cerrito High halfway through his junior year, and he’s excited for what could be a tremendous season for BHS.  

The BHS volleyball team recently placed second in their first tournament of the season, and Jacala is optimistic about her team’s chances this season. 

Meanwhile, Redman, having understood his priorities, is still happy with his decision. “(Football) was fun, but at the same time, I valued the money and experience at camp more long term than football,” he said. “Football would only be one year … sometimes you have to sacrifice the fun for what you really need in life,” he said.