Trying to achieve a balance between school and time with family and friends is hard enough for any student. When you add the pressure of athletics to that mix, things get complicated fast. The long hours of practice and the games away from home get in the way of studying for tests and spending enough time doing homework. Grades start to drop, and, soon enough, you are ineligible to play. It's a tough cycle to break out of.

As R.J. Reynolds high school lacrosse coach Anthony Ciaccia puts it:

“Student-athletes have to have dedication. They have to perform in the classroom and also on the field. They are kids who are coming home—or not even going home. They are going straight to practice, working for two hours hard and then after, they go home, do their homework, shower, eat. It's probably twice as hard to be a student-athlete and be successful.”

Ever since middle school, Hugh Bray has been a student-athlete. He loves to play soccer and lacrosse, and he played them as school sports and as part of a club at the same time. He thought that doing this was his best shot at playing lacrosse in high school and, eventually, in college. However, he quickly learned he was “biting off more than he could chew.”

“Many times you [Hugh] would go to practice at your school's team, and then we would leave immediately after that and go to one of your club teams while you were eating dinner in the car and while you were trying to study in the car. Then you'd get home and study until midnight,” Francie Bray, Hugh's mom, explains.

As a student-athlete, the pressure to perform well both on and off the field does not only fall on the student, but on the family as well.

“That was just a tough season on us all as a family. It was tough. After that year...we pulled back,” Francie Bray explains.

Hugh chose to focus on one sport per season and, while it was tough to let go of the other sports he also loved, it has helped him achieve a balance between school and athletics. He has a good GPA, he has improved his performance on the field, and he keeps up with his academic requirements. However, his dream is to become a lacrosse player at the University of Colorado Boulder, and he knows that the struggle to achieve balance is far from over. After all, even adults have trouble balancing work and finding the time to work out for at least an hour a day...and adults don't have English essays to write.

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