For A Few Freshmen Their Varsity Sports Career Begins With Their First Practice

Freshmen on girls’ golf, girls’ tennis, volleyball and boys’ soccer share their experiences with jumping right into their sports careers


Freshman Addisyn Caban was the lone 9th grader on the 2022 varsity volleyball team.

Varsity sports are rigorous and time consuming for all players, but imagine being a freshman new to the school and also being on varsity.

Rachel Manfreda is on the varsity golf team and has been playing for seven years. She has encountered some struggles along the way.

“It was difficult joining the team not knowing anybody and being new to the whole thing,” Manfreda said.

One of the downsides of being on varsity as a freshman can be the limited amount of playing time. In some cases, freshmen entering a varsity sport can expect to be sitting on the bench a lot. That was not true for freshman Teagan Ruby who began her varsity career at the #1 seed on the tennis team.

Ruby went into the season with a plan that accounted for her lack of high school playing experience.

“I knew I probably wasn’t gonna win a lot of matches playing number 1, so I thought this was like my season for practice,” Ruby said.

Players at the varsity level compete for scholarships or recognition from colleges, so the stakes are higher than those of a middle school or junior varsity sport. Volleyball player Addisyn Caban highlights the transition from middle school to high school sports.

“Middle school was more of like a fun hobby, and high school is a lot more intense, a lot more serious, so it goes a lot deeper there,” Caban said.

Another aspect of playing on a varsity sport is team chemistry. The tight-knit family made from being on a sports team is an added benefit for fall season freshmen athletes who already know other students before they enter their classes.

“I definitely made a lot of friends before the school year started and definitely got to know people quicker,” Ruby said.

Any varsity sport at Wake Forest is going to have tough competition, considering Wake Forest is a 4A school. Soccer player Nolan Thomson experienced the difference. 

“I went to a really small school, Endeavor Charter School. We barely had enough people to have a team, and we had no subs. We won every game because nobody else was good. I like high school a lot more because it’s a lot more competitive,” Thompson said.

Tennis player Emma Smith, who has been playing for 11 years, found support from her teammates. 

“The few seniors I’ve played have been understanding I’m a freshman, and I’m trying to get with the rules,” Smith said.

Having a good connection with teammates can be important in having a good flow in a team. Ruby takes her own experience and offers some advice to upperclassmen athletes who encounter freshmen teammates.

“I would try to talk to the girls early on because I felt that I was quiet in the beginning, but they are all really sweet,” Ruby said.