Athletic concentrations, otherwise known as “exemptions” among students, are a co-curricular option for juniors and seniors where athletes can use their afternoons to focus on a particular talent. In order to be eligible for this opportunity, students must participate in two interscholastic teams in the other seasons. While athletic concentrations are offered in all three seasons, concentrations in the fall are very desirable for junior and senior athletes who want to prepare for a winter or spring sport and raise their ability to another level.
However, referring to this co-curricular as an “exemption” is actually a misnomer. The term exemption implies that students are avoiding something. According to Athletic Director Mr. Bob Howe, “This is not the way we want to portray this unique opportunity. Instead, calling it an ‘Athletic Concentration’ would allow students to acknowledge that it is not exempting the students from something, but rather letting them concentrate on their priority sport.”
This past fall, 35 students participated in an athletic concentration.
Varsity swimmer and lacrosse player Young Hur ’18 acknowledges the importance of the freedom a concentration allows, noting, “Because I play lacrosse and swim about three to four times a week, I feel like I have the ability to choose which aspects of my game I want to improve upon, and then the next step from there is to just strengthen them in preparation for the season.”
Another student taking part in a fall concentration is tennis player Alfi Auersperg ’19. Discussing how he uses his concentration, Auersperg commented, “During my time on court, a couple of other friends and I play practice sets to simulate certain pressure situations when we play against other schools in the spring. During the weekends, I also travel around the New England area to compete in USTA tournaments, and the school is really supportive of this.”
Ashley Manning ’19, captain of the varsity squash team, spends her concentration “practicing about six times a week, four times with a coach and the other two with kids on the squash team.” She explained that taking part in a concentration was desirable for her because “it is hard to commit to a fall sport while playing squash at the same time, and apart from that, the workload would also be a problem. However, with a concentration it gives me the freedom to participate in tournaments on weekends and improve on my game.”
Katie Zaslaw ’19 prepares for the winter swim season by swimming every day and going to the gym about four times a week. Zaslaw commented, “I’m really grateful for the opportunities Deerfield has provided me. Having a concentration as a co-curricular allows me to attend swim meets during the weekend, and apart from that, it also gives me time to travel to Amherst with some girls on the swim team to practice.”
The popularity of concentrations continues as 28 athletes will participate in one this winter.