Junior Ethan Gaines sets up to start a morning mile run around the track.

What Keeps You Motivated?

Ethan Gaines is just one of many student athletes at Wade Hampton that must balance schoolwork and sports

September 17, 2018

The life of a student-athlete can prove to be a hard schedule to juggle. Keeping up with practices, games, and workouts combined with academic challenges like homework and weekly quizzes and tests, can be challenging. So what keeps these students going? What makes them push on and continue their love of sports, despite the academic hardships that come with listening to the natural ambition they were born with?

Ethan Gaines is an eleventh-grade student-athlete who runs varsity cross country. He’s been running since the day he found out about joining the cross country team in sixth grade. His father ran track when he was his age; it’s in his blood. Ethan’s first couple of years on the team were tough. Running is one of the hardest hobbies to pick up and requires daily effort to get better; the more he slacks (skips a morning run or afternoon practice), the harder it is to throw himself back in the straight line of progression he was in. When asked about failure and quitting, Gaines said that the hardest cross country has ever been was the 8th-grade year. “I didn’t like the first season and I wanted to quit, I hated the races.”

The hardest part of all this is taking the struggle and urge to quit and flipping it into a drive to push on and keep working. Nowadays, Ethan uses the stress of being an upperclassman to motivate him. He says that what motivates him the most is, “Thinking about scholarships and colleges. When you get to junior and senior year, all the coaches are watching.” The eyes of coaches and other athletes can be stressful, with every move being judged. This stress, created by the men determining Ethan’s future, is turned into motivation to push forward and become the best runner he can be. With time, Ethan has found what fuels his ambition and it is clear that this system has helped with progression, he continues to break his personal records with a mile time of 4:54, an 800-meter time of 2:10, and a 5k time of 17:29.

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