Less is more

Leo Applegate '23, Sports Editor

Greenhills’ unique size provides a different high school experience from many other schools in the Ann Arbor area. While the Ann Arbor public high schools Huron, Pioneer, and Skyline each have roughly 1,500 students, Greenhills has only 378 enrollees, less than a quarter of its counterparts. This size differential provides exceptional chances for students to have interactions with teachers and faculties and more involved learning experiences. However, an often overlooked aspect of Greenhills is how the school’s size affects its sports teams. 

While larger schools have the luxury of depth and size on their teams, Greenhills’ sports teams often do not have this luxury, as almost every team at the school has only a varsity squad, lacking enough participants for a junior varsity or freshmen roster. While this may cause some obvious complications, I believe that having a smaller team provides a chance for other opportunities. 

Being on a team of limited size not only encourages but requires players to build a team atmosphere and develop a greater sense of camaraderie in order to succeed. Without such a sense, it’s nearly impossible for a small team to fully work together. Smaller team settings allow athletes to have more frequent and personal interactions with their teammates. From this atmosphere often grows something better – players often find themselves going from strangers to teammates and even to friends with the people they spend so much time on the court, on the field, or in the pool with.

This mirrors my understanding of Greenhills sports. As I’ve been on the varsity swim team since my freshman year, I’ve had the opportunity to witness and be directly involved in this experience. After I was made a captain before my senior season, I had high expectations for both myself and the team entering the year. However, to my initial dismay, I had found that the team had shrunk in size by a wide margin – caused by the women’s team separating from the men’s or just simply from a lack of interest. Even though Greenhills holds a co-op agreement with Father Gabriel Richard and Whitmore Lake to field a swim team, the team isn’t nearly as large as one might imagine. Although disappointed at first, I quickly realized that the team of fewer than twenty swimmers afforded me many possibilities. I was able to get to know many of my teammates on a personal level, something that would never have been possible if I had to get to know twice the amount of people, for example. I went from being complete strangers with people that I never would have otherwise interacted with to developing friendships with them that will last long into the future. Although the team did well in the pool this year, it’s not the times or races that I’ll remember. I’ll remember all of the team dinners, bus rides, laughs, and everything else in between that made my time on the team so special. Even though our state meet was disappointing from a swimming perspective – we missed the final cut by less than three-tenths of a second in one of our relays – all of the happy memories I made outside of the pool with the other members of the state team far outweigh the negative ones.

Even months after the season has ended, I’m still in contact with many of my teammates, our team GroupMe is still active, and I still have the occasional conversation with them in school. My experience was and is truly remarkable, and I believe that it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for me to replicate on a larger scaled team.