By Samantha Roycraft

 There is no doubt Center Grove athletics is off to a great start, boasting state championships in both boys soccer and football.  The girls cross country team sent Valerie Clark to state, and girls soccer and girls volleyball managed to make it to the final four before falling in tough games.  As Coach Mills puts it, “We are just a group of ordinary individuals who work extraordinarily hard.” However, does the pressure to be the best ever cause athletes to crack?

  Underlying the relentless pursuit of success is fierce competition.

  Competition is what drives athletes to strive to do better and work harder. Some people say that the athletes are pushed to their breaking points; others say that their competition is their motivation.

  “Our sports are not too competitive because in order to succeed you need a competitive edge to get to state,” sophomore football player Brett Boswell said. “That is [our] ultimate goal.”   

  But, winning comes with a price. Athletes must take time out of their free time to fully commit to the sport.

  “Yes, you have to work really hard so that you can win because other schools practice hard as well, so we have to set that edge,” junior basketball player Travis Roehling said.

  This price from the sport not only takes away free time, but they can also put the player at risk of injury.

  “Our athletic department takes many precautions to avoid injury,” freshman volleyball player Cayla Krieger said. “[Many] athletes take weights with Coach Mills; he helps to prevent injuries. His workouts are made to make athletes stronger and more flexible.”

  The athlete’s competitiveness changes when they play against friends at home. The competitiveness dies down because there is no championship at the end.

  “When you are playing with friends non-competitively, you will be fine making mistakes because you are just playing for fun,” freshman soccer player Nicholas Parackattu said. “However, when you are playing for your school, your team’s reputation is at stake. Especially in sectionals, when you lose once you go home, so there are no mistakes.”

  Athletes at times come so close to state then fall short, that it motivates them to push themselves harder the next year.

  “Passing out last year at semi-state was my motivation this year because I was so close to state, that I wanted it this year,” junior track runner Valerie Clark said. “My teammates were my energy source, everyone always brought all they had and I felt I was doing it for them.”                            

  The pressure behind each individual athlete is pushed to the point where they expect to succeed, and they expect nothing less than going to the championship.

  “No, our expectations are not too high at all,” senior baseball player Conner Cantrell said. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t expect anything less than winning state.”

  However, with all athletes expecting to win state, they must make sacrifices.

  “I sacrificed hanging out with my friend,” junior football player Titus McCoy said. “I had limited amount of time to do homework.”

  Hard work and success of players from past and present fosters a state-winning atmosphere, whatever it takes.