Urban students find sports as a coping mechanism for academic, social challenges


Girls volleyball team in the garden in 2021. Photo credit: Romy Zwerin.

Some Urban athletes find that while participating in Urban sports their mental health is positively influenced, even while their time to maintain a social life and finish homework outside of school decreases. Through sports, students are able to make close friends, not only within their grade, but throughout the school. Many also find that they learn valuable skills such as dedication and time management.
“One of the main reasons I participate in sports at Urban is… to feel more connected in the community,” said Ella Jefferies ‘22, captain of the girls golf team. Making close friends has been one of golf’s biggest advantages for her, and the girls golf team “ha[s] a lot of fun” says Jeffreries.

Boys cross country team in Lindley Meadow in 2021. Photo credit: Dawson Hoe.

“I was on varsity and… [the upperclassmen] helped me through a lot of stuff in freshman year,” said Bella Hildebrand ‘23, an athlete on girls varsity volleyball. To Hildebrand the intergrade relationships formed by sports have been invaluable.
“I think the communities [of] sports teams are really important to the development of student athletes outside of the classroom. In terms of reaching common goals… being self motivated, understanding what it means to be selfless. You know, showing up on time, all these things,” said Director of Athletics, Joe Skiffer. This statement echoes for many athletes. Sports are not only a way to connect with a school community and fellow students, but also to learn the responsibility that comes with being a team member.
Nobu Nitta-Mack ‘24, a sophomore at Urban, notes that cross country has positively impacted him. “It has me committed to something,” he said. For others, sports put emphasis on the time-management aspect of their lives.
“I balance school and sports by… do[ing] most of my classroom work the day before [game day]… I don’t particularly enjoy that and I feel like with the four classes it’s been hard so I’ve been up pretty late, but it’s manageable,” said Hildebrand.
While they do decrease your free time, sports give many athletes a more structured schedule and a much needed outlet. “[I put] my energy into volleyball, and I just like love talking to people and… you always have fun for two hours of the day,” said Hildebrand.
Page Sparks ‘24, an athlete on varsity cross country and varsity soccer appreciates the sense of community sports have provided. She recalls a Friday soccer game with fans from across the school: “I just saw, like, random upperclassmen, who I’d never met, and it’s just really cool to [have] those big bonding events together.”