Some sports don’t get attention they deserve

This story was originally published in the third edition of The Lion’s Tale (December 9, 2020).

When OHS goes to play, we come back with a victory or a lesson. This year, we have more victories than lessons.

Although some athletic teams get recognized for their success,what about the other, less prominent sports?If I asked you to name a sport that starts with T, would you say tennis? What about B or D or even S? Baseball, basketball, softball, soccer? Actually, the answer that was being looked for was bowling and swim/dive. These teams work just as hard as any other sport does, right?

The trophy case would tell you the answer is yes. Last year, the boys swim & dive were state, region, district and conference champions while the girls swim & dive team came state runner-up, third in the region, and are also district and conference champions. They are the girls 400 free relay state champs too.

This year, the girls bowling team are state, districts and conference champions and the boys bowling team came 14th in the state, and are district and conference champions. We wanted to dive into these underappreciated sports and understand what it is like to be a part of these teams that perform so well.

Justina Nielsen, a senior on the girls bowling team, says that bowling runs in her blood.

“I am a third-generation bowler in my family, which makes me love the sport even more, because it makes me feel connected to someone I only knew for a year,” Nielsen said.

At their best, sports, whether a hobby or a life’s passion, connect us with others. Whether its biological family or chosen family, the pursuit of a championship takes a team effort.

Nielsen’s team won back-to-back state competitions; she also placed sixth individually this year.

“I was ecstatic,” she said. “That was my goal. I really wanted to place individually. I didn’t care what place it even was, I just wanted to medal!” Medaling in individual bowling is placing in the top six.

Even as one of the highest achieving bowlers in the state, Nielsen is still “on and off about bowling in college” as “there’s not many schools that give bowling scholarships.”

However, Nielsen shows resiliency in the face of the unknown. While bowling may not be one of the sports that gain a lot of attention, she just focuses on doing the best she can each frame.

“I’m not going to let people bring me down,” she said. “It just shows me that they are not worth my time and friendship.”

Similarly, some may underestimate the skill and dedication required in swimming.

Joseph San Filippo, a freshman on the swimming team, knows all too well the training it takes to perform at the high school level. He explained that the workouts vary from day to day, but that the intensity level is always incredibly high.

“If I’m honest there’s too many [types of workouts] to count,” Filippo said. “Coach changes up the sets and we rarely repeat the same workout unless he likes the sets.”

Tennis is another sport that is extremely popular internationally but doesn’t necessarily garner much attention in high school.

Madelyn Dowda, a player on the Oviedo High School tennis team, shared her thoughts with us on the matter.

“It also could be the fact that many people in high school don’t think of tennis as a particularly ‘hard’ sport, while it actually is, and I think they really don’t even think of it as an important sport because they focus on sports like football, baseball, and basketball,” Dowda said.

Regardless of the level of recognition these athletes receive, they put in hard work day in and day out for the love of the game, and have the hardware to show for it.