Extreme Sports are Extremely Rare Among VHS Students

Most VHS students, when entering high school, hope to make the team for sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, or lacrosse. Most students, not every student. 

Annie Patti and Laura Williams are examples of VHS students who break the mold of “mainstream” sports.  These students play extreme sports. 

“They’re a lot more chill and fun compared to the other sports people at our school play,” says Annie Patti, a junior at VHS who has done extreme sports for three years.  Rock climbing, horseback riding, snowboarding, skiing, and whitewater rafting barely scratch the surface of extreme sports that an often unnoticed portion of VHS students participate in.

Most students who do extreme sports are not recognized because the sport is not sponsored by VHS, or because there are no often no winners or losers in extreme sports.

“We do a lot of work” says Patti. “If people get recognized at school for making a home run in softball…I’m pretty sure we should get recognized too for our accomplishments.”  

At VHS recognition assembles, winners of sports like lacrosse and baseball are acknowledged, yet for example, that extreme sport student who landed their first backside 720 on a snowboard the previous weekend, wouldn’t be acknowledged.   

Not only are the students not recognized by the school, they go unnoticed by their classmates as well.  This is because there is no after school practice for skiing or rock climbing as there is for sports like lacrosse or basketball depending on the season. 

Some students take initiative and create clubs devoted to these extreme sports. VHS used to have a ski club which dissolved after having a slim number of students who joined.  “I want to revive it!” says Patti with an excited smile, “Next year I plan to be the president.” 

“Extreme sports are unique,” says Laura Williams, another VHS junior, who is a runner but also a long time horse-back rider, “It’s a different experience, there’s a huge mental aspect that goes with it.  It’s different from track because it’s more self-motivating and I do it for fun instead of awards.”   

This concept of playing sports for fun instead of for winning awards usually sends people the connotation that these can’t be “real” sports because there are no winners or losers.  Some students choose to participate in extreme sports for this very fact—they feel self-improvement. Challenging one’s self is more motivating than a piece of plastic recognizing a first, second, or third place winner.

Most people do not realize everything that goes into extreme sports: the training, preparation, money, and precautions. “You have to be much more physically fit when you ski or rock climb,” says Patti, “You can play softball and still be, like, fat.”

Extreme sports also require the player to be mentally prepared.  “It’s not just being physically ready to do something…your mind has to be in it, you have to think” says Williams. 

There is often huge risk of injury during an extreme sport due to the factors that make the sport “extreme”. Countless people have been seriously injured and have even died because of skiing, snowboarding, and whitewater rafting yet these VHS students do not seem fazed.  “I like the thrill”, Patti simply says with a shrug of her shoulders.  “I used to swim competitively, but I enjoy rock climbing and skiing so much more.”      

Even the media is slightly discriminatory towards extreme sports.  Numerous television channels, like ESPN, are devoted to more mainstream sports such as football, basketball, or baseball.  Sports such as surfing, BMX, snowboarding, or rock climbing have a limited selection of channels they are aired on, and only one channel, the cable station FUEL TV, is completely devoted to extreme sports.