Breaking the sports norm

Freshman athletes play for varsity teams


Mandy Halbert

Freshman Michael DiFiore is a member of the varsity mens basketball team and freshman Lizzie Weichel plays for varsity soccer. Pictured above is DiFiore in a game against Wylie East.

Katie Felton , Staff Reporter

The typical high school stereotype is that freshmen play on freshmen team, sophomores play on junior varsity, and juniors and seniors play on varsity. But some freshmen, like soccer player Lizzie Weichel and basketball player Michael DiFiore are standing out as varsity players in their first high school seasons.

Weichel has been playing soccer for 11 years, beginning around age 4.

“It has always been something I love to do,” Wiechel said. “It is definitely an honor to be able to be on varsity, but I also think that it is very important to stay humble and never get comfortable in the position you’re in.”

Girls’ varsity soccer coach John Baker said Wiechel is just as good as the other athletes.

“Lizzie is incredibly skilled,” Baker said. “She is one of most offensively skilled players on the team. Her ability to dribble, finish and see the entire field has been a big part of our early success. She is the type of player that makes everyone around her better.”

DiFiore said while he wasn’t expecting to make the varsity team, he wasn’t entirely surprised either.

“It was a goal of mine over the summer to make varsity,” DiFiore said. “I worked hard and earned a spot on the team.”

Boys basketball coach Kyle Herrema praised DiFiore’s work ethic and said he adds a lot to the team.

“DiFiore is a hungry player; he wants to be good,” Herrema said. “He also has a good feel for the game and can give us some scoring punch. It is very unusual for us to have a freshmen on the varsity. Since we have had seniors at Lovejoy, we have only had a couple of players who have played on the varsity as freshmen.”

Weichel has worked hard to earn her spot on varsity with the older athletes.

“It was somewhat intimidating playing with older people in the beginning, but I am excited for the experience and the season,” Weichel said. “Although I am one of the youngest on my team I enjoy playing with people of all different ages.”

Making varsity as a freshman is “a big deal,” Baker said. He described the qualities that it takes to achieve this.

“They have a fantastic mix of talent, work ethic and toughness that made it impossible to not just make the team, but become valuable members of the starting lineup,” Baker said.

Herrema said that being on varsity is different from the middle school teams that most freshmen are experienced with.

“I don’t think I would say [DiFiore] has a different work ethic, but it is a big adjustment going from the middle school to the high school,” Herrema said. “The pace of practice and the physicality of games is a lot different.”

Even though Weichel is one of the newer athletes to the team, she said she strives to work just as hard as her teammates.

“I am motivated to do my best for my teammates, and also winning, and by setting goals for the season that my team, and me personally, would like to achieve,” Weichel said.

DiFiore credited his competitive nature in motivating him to make the varsity team as a freshman.

“I’m a competitive person and I hate the feeling of failing or losing,” DiFiore said. “So I work hard and try to prevent that feeling as much as I can.”