Sade Braxton, Senior, KIPP NYC College Prep High School; Captain, Girls Varsity Volleyball; Member, Girls Varsity Softball
Have you wondered what it’s been like for high school students during the pandemic, particularly the athletes? If you played sports during this time in your life, you know how important they are to high school and college students. Sade Braxton, a senior at KIPP NYC College Prep High School, is the captain of the school’s volleyball team and a member of the varsity softball team. Sade, whose family is Trinidadian, was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Hamilton Heights. She attended KIPP Infinity Middle School and first played organized volleyball at that school in 8th grade.
While Sade is overjoyed to be back on the court with her teammates this year, she shared what it was like to go without a season in 2020:
“It was disappointing. I was constantly waiting to hear that, ‘sports are back’. I would practice in my backyard, perfecting my receives and bumps with my sister. I used to jog all the time to improve my stamina. We’d still have Zoom sessions to work out together. I was so eager to get back on the court. It’s so different practicing with your team. I like being with my teammates; I like being in school in general. Being a part of a sports team is my motivation to do well in school.”
Now that Sade is back learning in the classroom and playing sports in person, she’s feeling more optimistic than she has in a year and a half; however, she’s needed to adjust to new health and safety measures:
“I feel great to be back. I didn’t enjoy online learning because I was by myself trying to complete high school. Being with my friends, being able to go to tutoring and play sports. Everything feels normal in a good way.
With the mask we had to adjust our workouts until everyone got used to wearing a mask. The school gave us mask break areas. Once you get used to the mask, it doesn’t bother you anymore. It’s something you have to be willing to do to play volleyball.
We were running up and down the stairs to prepare for the rallies. With the mask you’re already limited by the amount of oxygen coming in and out. As someone who suffers from asthma, the running up and down has improved my breathing. My asthma has gotten way better from August. When I started I needed to take mask breaks, but now my body has gotten used to it. I do a lot of breathing exercises before practice so it helps.”
On top of the excitement of restarting sports, the varsity volleyball team has had a banner season:
“We went undefeated as divisional champs. Now we’re in the playoffs. Our record was 9-0. We played James Monroe, a school rival for a few years now. It was a big achievement to beat them. I play outside hitter 1; I am the person that the setter looks to set up. I’m the foundation of the front row and back row; I play all throughout. I consider myself very reliable. I make sure the vibe of the team is happy.”
Outside of volleyball, Sade is enthusiastic about the senior year curriculum, which gives her an opportunity to take AP Psychology, for example. She’s also working on the weekends to save for college and keep her schedule full:
“I really enjoy AP Psychology. It’s really helped with my communication skills. Learning about the human brain, why people react to certain things, and to think about others before you jump to assumptions about them. I was so used to being in my own bubble; you gotta open up your mind.
I work at Chipotle on Saturdays and Sundays, 9am-4pm. My schedule is packed throughout the week. Working has taught me time management; I’m always constantly busy. Getting a job at Chipotle has made me realize what I need to focus on.”
As a senior, Sade is focusing on the next chapter of her life:
“I’m planning on going to college and start my career toward dental school. I used to be very insecure about my smile. I went to the orthodontist, got myself some braces. Changing my smile has changed my confidence and boosted my morale. I want other people to experience the same awakening I did. I want to share the confidence I gained through the process. I applied early decision. I’m planning to do volleyball on the club team.”
We’re so excited for Sade and other student-athletes who have returned to courts and fields this fall after over a year away from their teams. And to Sade: best of luck in the volleyball playoffs and in this upcoming softball season!