Often overlooked by the crowd of chanting fans and forgotten by the harbingers of fame and glory, “the bench,” is usually depicted in pop culture as the notorious place where dreams of being an all-star athlete dwindle. Contrary to popular belief, many Deerfield athletes have come to accept and enjoy their position on the bench with positivity.
Meghan Holland ’23, a varsity volleyball player, derives fulfillment from attending the fun practice sessions and training alongside talented teammates. When asked about her experience on the bench, she said, “At first, it’s a little bit frustrating, but I like being on the bench.”
She primarily uses this opportunity to bond with her teammates. “Don’t get me wrong, I love playing, but I also love watching and cheering. I got really close with my teammates last year, and there are so many different cheers we do for the volleyball team,” she said.
Holland also enjoys having fun with her friends in a less stressful environment. “I’m playing sports with my friends and not playing the sport for myself,” she said.
For Mary Lee ’23, a junior varsity soccer player who moved up to varsity his year, receiving much playing time doesn’t matter that much either. Instead, being benched motivates her to work harder. “Since I’m not going to play soccer in college, what’s more important for me is having fun and getting better,” she explained. Both watching the team and practicing with her teammates have allowed her to improve tremendously.
This year, with coronavirus disrupting fall competitions, the unusual situation presents some benefits for the benched players, allowing them to participate more. Coaches have opted for alternative plans, which mainly include scrimmages within teams and rigorous training for all members.
“Usually, with normal games, not everyone plays all the time. In practice now, we’re all playing for two hours each day,” Holland said.
For the girls’ varsity soccer team, Mrs. Barbato is more focused on improvement for all players. She believes that it is a unique opportunity for them to focus on sharpening skills instead of winning.