At first, Bacon Academy boys lacrosse coach Brian Martin didn’t think Advanced Placement testing had much of an impact on his team, affecting a handful of players.
Then came Tuesday’s game at Montville, a 4:30 p.m. start with a bus time two hours earlier. Two players weren’t on board: They were still in a test.
“The AP test got out at 3 and the players arrived at the field at 3:30 to join in the team warmup,” Martin said. “They were able to play in the game with no issues, but it obviously was an inconvenience for them and their parents,” who had to drive them.
When high school athletes take AP classes and tests, hoping to earn college credit while in high school, it might not directly affect their team’s schedule or practices.
Many tests are early enough in the day to avoid it, and many teams say they work around it during these two weeks, wrapping up Friday, when the tests are administered based on a published schedule.
Still, the extensive exams, which can run two or three hours, are one more tax on the energy of a high school student.
“We are pushing back lots of practice times and game times to accommodate the testing,” Xavier boys lacrosse coach Scott Basile said. “The kids are coming out of them exhausted. But in the long run, this is very important for the boys so we do what we can as coaches to support them in whatever way we can.”
Of 30 boys lacrosse coaches who responded to an email about the effects of AP testing, their replies were pretty spread out.
Six flatly said testing had no effect on them at all. Seven said it hadn’t, but they played or practiced late enough that an effect was unlikely. Four said they worked around testing, adjusting their schedule either ahead of time or as necessary.
Six said the effects were minor, players missing a few practices. And seven said yes, there was a definite impact.
Even then, one coach whose own team hadn’t been affected said he’d heard of another school where a girls tennis player missed a match because she wasn’t out of her test in time.
Hamden brought together 21 student-athletes last Friday to recognize where they are going to college. Athletic director Tom Dyer said it was planned around AP testing.
“Some of those student-athletes are in either four or five AP classes,” Dyer said. “It’s a different breed when you are talking about the kids who take AP classes.”
Dyer said Hamden offers between 18-20 AP courses, being conducted last week and this week. He said the school conducts two tests on Tuesday through Thursday and single tests Monday and Friday. Dyer said the afternoon test runs until 4 p.m. For the student-athletes, practices or games need to be pushed back, Dyer said.
“School administrators and athletic directors are always trying to make it all work,” Dyer said.
Dyer said that having games be moved to a later time due to another school’s request because of AP testing happened “a bunch” last year, but not really this year.
East Catholic boys lacrosse coach Patrick Bushnell said he’d just been talking about the topic with his wife, a math teacher. The Eagles rearranged some practice time for AP tests as well as SAT preparation: June 1, the date of this year’s boys lacrosse quarterfinals, is an SAT date, too.
“To me, this is a no brainer,” Bushnell said. “Student comes first in the term ‘Student Athlete,’ and that is what we adhere to.”
That’s what Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz said, too; he’s an English teacher at Stamford.
“I’ve had several players at Greenwich miss the beginning of practice or the warmup for a game due to AP testing, but as a teacher, I get it,” Lutz said.
“Unfortunately, sports is probably more of a distraction on schooling rather than the other way around. A player coming to a practice or game a little mentally fatigue is not as bad as that student thinking about a big game while taking an important exam.”
Greenwich practices and plays late, which helps avoid conflict (one of the few times it helps, Lutz said).
It doesn’t always work out that way. Shelton baseball coach Scott Gura had a player who had to rush from a test that ended at 3 p.m. to a game. “We try to coordinate all these factors into our schedule,” Gura said.
And when those players get from the test to the field, it isn’t always a smooth transition.
“I really feel for these young men, because even when they are able to make it to a game, often being driven by parents, or running from a classroom, (they) show up stressed out and upset,” RHAM boys lacrosse coach Mark Townsend said. “We spend the next 15-20 minutes just helping them settle down.”
St. Bernard/Wheeler coach James Cook said he sees players come out of testing more restless.
Fairfield Ludlowe lacrosse coach Chris Parisi remembered a game at New Canaan where five starters arrived at halftime because of an AP test. (He’s more galled that players ask to be excused from practice for proms and dances.)
Legitimate academic absences are no big deal to the coaches we talked to, like Rockville/Stafford lacrosse coach Paul Courtois. One of his starters is an officer in the school’s FFA (the organization formerly known as the Future Farmers of America) and is often late for practice.
“This is what it is all about, producing well rounded mature young men and women,” Courtois said. “However, I also make them make choices,” when it comes to another activity like a school play. “That is what life is about.”
Meanwhile, Shelton coach Matt Read said he had a player who was taking five AP tests this month. He offered to try to get us in touch this week. Not surprisingly, the player hasn’t had a chance yet.
Joe Morelli and Bill Bloxsom contributed to this story.