Bench Players: The unsung Heroes
When sitting on the sidelines watching a Packer sporting event, it is easy to get caught up in the dazzling performances of the star players. Watching these athletes pull off incredible sporting feats as they will their team to victory is mesmerizing and a thrill to watch. However, what many do not realize is that behind these incredible performances lies an often overlooked, but pivotal, part of the team. As the starters are afforded most of the attention, it is easy to forget the crucial and game-changing role of the bench player.
“Despite what people may say [about the bench], [they] are a critical part of [a] team’s success. [The] energy level and enthusiasm have a direct effect on [one’s] teammates and their performance,” said Ari Horowitz (‘21), former bench player for and now captain of JV Boys Basketball.
“People don’t often talk about the bench,” furthered Varsity Boys Basketball bench player Cooper Williamson (‘20), “but I think we play a very important role on a team. In terms of energy and cheering, we can make the difference.”
This was definitely the case on the JV Boys Basketball team that Cooper and Ari were a part of last year, whose undefeated championship season was largely fueled by the emphatic encouragement from the bench.
“Yeah, we couldn’t have done it without them,” said Mark Gazzero (‘20), a starting player on that championship team.
However, despite their evident value to the program, many bench players are unfortunately subject to unfair teasing due to their lack of playtime. The bench players don’t worry about it too much, however. Although the taunts would likely bother lesser athletes, these select players remain unfazed in the face of the criticism.
“I think most people always assume you’re unhappy or sad to be sitting, but I would discredit that. Most people I know embraced the role and were more than happy to cheer on their teammates,” said Ari. “[For me] being on the bench was awesome. It was so much fun to make chants and get the crowd hype, and as a result, help out the team win.”
This importance of bench players can be most clearly witnessed when those on the bench get their chance to play on the field. Just as they had cheered on their squad every second of the season, their teammates always return the favor with equal fervor, appreciative of all the work they have done for the team.
As described by Edoardo Carlon (‘19), backup goalie for the Boys Varsity Soccer Team, “When I got my chance, the entire time, everyone on the sideline, was just cheering for me and just cheering me on. I definitely felt a huge rush. It was really great… Being on the team was so much fun, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”