Westmont to Westmont

By Sydney Reese

“Go Westmont Warriors!” I have heard countless times from the stands of my high school. Whether it has been from the stands overlooking the field hockey field, the soccer field, the basketball court, or the track, I have learned a lot from my high school sports teams. 

From field hockey, I have learned the importance of team chemistry. From freshman year, the team has supported and cared about each other both on and off the field. Whether its team dinners, random lunches, matching outfits, encouraging text messages, Instagram posts, Senior Night posters, or verbal encouragement on the field, I will cherish and seek out teams with chemistry like Westmont’s fockey team. 

From basketball, I have learned the importance of good leadership. As a freshman on varsity and one of the shortest players, I was nervous about playing with and against older and bigger players. However, Reiko Schlingo, captain of the basketball team at the time, welcomed me, looked out for me, and reassured me during the three years we played together. The only reason I captained the basketball team my senior year was because I had such a good role model to follow in their footsteps. 

From soccer, I have learned the importance of self-confidence. Since I was about five years old, soccer has been my main sport. While I have learned many lessons from soccer, learning to have confidence after messing up has been the most critical and applicable one. The mental side of higher level sports is extremely important and oftentimes not addressed properly: pressure from parents, degrading from coaches, exclusion from teammates, burnouts, self-esteem tied to performance, injuries, physical strain caused by mental determination, perfectionism, and more. Having confidence in yourself doesn’t necessarily solve all those problems, but it reduces their impact and makes the sport fun instead of a burden. 

From track, I have learned the importance of joy. I found it boring running the same distance around the same field over and over. I loved the community and people that surrounded me, but I didn’t enjoy the sport. Therefore, I didn’t run track my senior year because I realized I didn’t enjoy it. Prioritizing enjoyment of the sport is important to me. 

While sports took up the majority of my time, I also learned lessons from different aspects of my high school life. 

From clubs, I have learned the importance of failure. I started a club called IDOT (Innovative Designers Of Tomorrow) in partnership with UC Berkeley students and while our club flourished the first year, it died down the second year, and we eventually quit the third year (Lol). Even though the club technically failed, there were many skills learned along the way such as leadership, communication, and public speaking. These skills were also learned and practiced not just through IDOT, but also through Global Glimpse, Best Buddies, LIFE Crew, CSF, and Interact. 

From classes, I have learned the importance of organization. Prioritizing organization throughout school is honestly half the battle. In my experience, productivity and higher grades usually follow physical and mental organization (especially to-do lists). 

From friendships, I have learned the importance of laughing. Surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh is crucial to your overall experience in anything. I am so thankful for the amount of friends I have that make me laugh. When I leave Westmont, I will miss the people the most. 

From work, I have learned the importance of perspective. I worked as a Jamba Juice employee, a basketball coach, and a soccer coach throughout high school. I loved all three jobs so much and I learned the importance of perspective because I worked with people of all ages. My coworkers at Jambe were all older than me and when I coach, I coach all ages younger than me. People of different ages and different stages in life have vastly differing opinions, and I am thankful I got to be exposed to those perspectives.

From family, I have learned the importance of work ethic. Both of my parents played D1 sports in college and they have taught me the importance of working hard in both athletics and academics. Once, when running stairs to train for soccer, I threw up multiple times because I pushed myself past my physical limits. My parents weren’t concerned or upset; instead, they congratulated me and were proud. My brother has also always motivated, encouraged, and supported me, and he has been a huge part of my high school career. 

From travel, I have learned the importance of learning. Whether it’s learning a new fun fact or aspects of embracing a new culture, experiencing unfamiliar places have given me different perspectives on different matters. I realized the influence being raised in a different culture physically, psychologically, and emotionally can have. I especially realized how the United States doesn’t prioritize people and communities like Costa Rica, Mexico, and Africa do, as wealth doesn’t make up for humanity. 

While the memories, teams, and people from high school inevitably fade from memory, these lessons will stay with me for the rest of my life, especially into my college years. I will miss the familiar community at Westmont High School, but I am excited for the next chapter. If my next four years are anything like my last four, I can’t wait. This next chapter will hopefully feature lots of time on the beach, in the mountains, and around the soccer field. “Go Westmont Warriors!” I will hear—now from the stands of my college.