The Work Life Balance of a Competitive Athlete


Lauren Thomas, with Coach Dan Mares (left) and teammate Kylie Olson (right)

       Lauren Thomas is a competitive softball player. As a sophomore in high school and a passionate athlete, it’s hard work to manage the balance between sports and academics. 

       “I just have to utilize the time that I do have to get my homework done. I also have to make time for my boyfriend and my friends. In order for me to be successful, I have to prioritize work first, then softball, and then friends and my boyfriend.” 

       An element that adds to her difficulty is living in the mountains. It’s no doubt that sports in the mountains are difficult, with the long winter seasons, rough terrains, and few local teams available. Being a dedicated athlete in Conifer is a struggle for some. Thomas, in particular, has faced difficulty when pursuing her passion for softball. 

       “Being on a competitive team, we have to practice year-round. Due to the weather up here, you have to have an indoor facility. It would be a lot easier if I lived somewhere warm, which would allow for me to play outside year-round. However, we always find a way to make it work,” Thomas said. 

       Most people play for their local team. Thomas, however, plays for a team that is over 20 miles away. Her current team, The Wildcats, is based in Lakewood. 

       “This is an improvement,” Thomas said. “On past teams, I’ve had to drive as far as Centennial, Castle Rock, or Parker. On those teams, it would be common for me to leave hours early.” 

       Thomas didn’t always have to travel to play softball. When she began her softball career at 8 years old, her first softball team was the West Jeff Fireflies, based in Evergreen. 

       “Fireflies was composed of me and my friends at the time — Brooklyn Wolanske, Natalie Pinaretta, and Allie Westfall. The majority of us went to school together.” 

       Though Thomas has left the comfort of childhood teams behind, traveling as far as Castlerock for tournaments, she has no regrets. To Thomas, playing competitive softball is worth it, despite the difficulties she’s encountered along the way.

       “In order to play competitive softball, you have to alter everything else in your life to make it work. Everything else has to work around softball, but it’s all worth it. Sports is a lifestyle, and one I’m willing to commit to.”