If you attend Palo Alto High School, chances are you have played sports at least once in your life. Whether you are obtaining scholarships to Division I schools for playing soccer or if you played Little League when you were 8, sports have likely had an impact on your life in one way or another. However, we tend to disregard the people who work behind the scenes.
We grew up as the ones playing sports, but what about the referees, the ball boys, the coaches and the team managers? Although adults typically take these jobs, high-schoolers in the area have taken the opportunity to work in sports-related fields as well. The substantial amount of children playing sports in the area creates numerous job opportunities for teenagers over weekends or after school.
There seems to always be a need for referees, especially in soccer, one of the most popular sports in the area.
Santiago Garcia, a sophomore attending Menlo High School, has played soccer all his life. Along with many other teenagers, he referees soccer games in his spare time.
“I got started into refereeing because some of my friends doing it told me it was an easy way to make money,”
According to Garcia, he makes up to $35 per game, depending on the team playing and the location.
“It was an easy way to make money at such a young age,” said junior Dylan Wilde, who is also a referee. “It was fun that I got to make money doing something that I was interested in.”
Although anybody can become a referee, it is more difficult to perform the task if one has no experience playing soccer.
“When refereeing, there are many scenarios where your knowledge of the game helps you determine what the call is, such as advantages and fouls,” Wilde said.
Aside from money, refereeing gives people a chance to gain leadership, work with others and learn more about soccer.
“Working with children was a lot of fun, because I always wanted to be a teacher,” Wilde said. “Refereeing was the first true time that I played the authoritative role in life.”
Furthermore, being in the referee’s position has given Garcia a new perspective of the game; previously, he had blamed many problems on referees.
“As a player, I have learned how to speak to referees in a less condescending tone,” Garcia said. “I have also learned how to be more understanding about the decisions made by referees because I’m also in that position.”
For many students, working at a local gym is a great fit, because the students get to know the ins and outs of gym equipment, allowing them to work out in many different ways. Aside from weight-lifting, Palo Alto fitness centers offer unique types of strengthening classes, such as yoga, kickboxing, crossfit work and many others.
Many students have started working at nearby gyms on weekends so they can continue to workout.
Aside from any students who are currently paid to play sports professionally, being an instructor at a gym is the best way to work while still keeping in good shape.
One of these students is junior Gigi Tierney, who has worked at Form Fitness for over a year.
“The best part about my job is that I get free access to all classes being taught there,” Tierney said. “That helps me get into good shape, and I love being an instructor, so the job is perfect for me.”
Coaches play one of the most vital positions in sports. They control the team, create the plays, run practices and have the largest influence on the players. When an athlete plays for a team, he or she looks up to the coach, even if they disagree with the coach’s tactics.
Taking up a coaching position as a teenager is a huge commitment and takes a lot of passion and dedication. Coaching typically includes working on weekdays as well as weekends.
Paly senior Kasra Orumchian is one of the coaches for the Jordan Middle School seventh grade basketball team, and is helping the team achieve new heights.
“I really enjoyed my coaches in middle school basketball, so it feels good to give back the way my coaches me did for me,” Orumchian said.
Paly junior Sebastian Khairkhahan was a coach for a local swim team over the summer and said coaching also taught him much in terms of leadership.
“As an experienced swimmer, I helped the new learners get to my level. I learned a lot as a person from my coaching position. I learned a lot about responsibility, how to cope well with kids and how to be a good leader.”
Coaching opportunities are not as easy to find as other sports jobs, but students who coached have gained a lot of management skills. According to Orumchian, coaching gave him a new perspective on sports and has helped him realize that a strong dynamic within the team requires both commitment from the coach and the players.
Most athletes do not see each practice and competition through the eyes of our coaches. By being a coach, one can accept the players may have to improve in many ways as well.
There are always volunteering opportunities emerging, and some of those opportunities include sports. Often, these positions come from big sporting events, such as Stanford University athletic competitions.
Paly junior Brian Ho has volunteered for two years at the Stanford Invitational, a track meet for high school and collegiate levels. He competed in track and field both his freshman and sophomore year, and according to him, it was his love for the sport that led him to volunteer.
“The best part about volunteering was getting to witness how great some of the athletes were,” Ho said. “When most people had to pay to enter, I had the opportunity to see the events from up-close.”