Freshman Var Stars: The future of Homestead sports

Freshmen Ashley Zaiss (left), Anna Nguyen (top right) and Jake Haberer compete on varsity.

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Freshmen Ashley Zaiss (left), Anna Nguyen (top right) and Jake Haberer compete on varsity.

The new school year brought along a brand new class of freshmen to Homestead, including several high-achieving athletes who managed to secure a varsity sport their first year in high school.

Among these hard-working freshmen includes Jake Haberer playing soccer, Anna Nguyen running cross country and Ashley Zaiss in gymnastics.

For Haberer, being on a close-knit team meant the move from Waukesha to Mequon would be easier. “Moving was going to be hard, so [being on the team] allowed me to make some new friends,” Haberer said.

This achievement wasn’t something these athletes took lightly. It was something that they had worked towards for a long time, and that work paid off.

“Being a freshman on any varsity sport is very unlikely, so when I found out I was on varsity I was super shocked. I felt very proud of myself and it kind of validated my confidence as a gymnast,” Zaiss said.

After years of training for this opportunity, the first obstacle young athletes face is not physical, it’s mental. After all that training, they know that they are physically capable in their sport, but the pressure can be overwhelming.

“At first, when my coach told me I was running a varsity race, I was just like, ‘what the heck, I’m going to do so badly.’ It was really intimidating,” Nguyen said.

That intimidation is not necessarily a bad thing. For young athletes, working with older students gives them role models and leaders to look up to. “I had the pressure of wanting to do well for my team and being able to prove to my coaches that I deserved my spot on varsity. Being with upperclassmen has really made me work harder,” Zaiss said.

With that uncertainty, young athletes need to push themselves to be in a positive mindset that helps them grow. “I don’t want to make any mistakes, but I also want to be one of the guys to make the bigger plays,” Haberer said.

Despite the hardships that come along with being some of the youngest on the team, these athletes wouldn’t trade it for the world. “I just felt kind of cool running for Homestead because I was like ‘Yeah man, I’m from Homestead,’” Nguyen said.

“Being on the team has definitely made me feel more connected to Homestead. Being on a sports team makes me feel more like a Highlander,” Zaiss said.

These athlete’s relationships with Homestead are far from over. As freshmen, they have the next three years to become the faces of their perspective sports and of Homestead as a whole.