Freshman Mackenzie Wintrich learns many lessons outside of school


Graduating from middle school and moving on to high school can be a very chaotic, stressful time. For many students, it is time to discover new passions; however, many enter with no idea what’s ahead of them. Unlike many, freshman Mackenzie Wintrich entered her first year of high school with many plans for the upcoming year.

Mackenzie is not one with a lot of free time on her hands—but that’s how she prefers it. She is involved in a plethora of after school activities: club soccer, field hockey, track and field, and the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Chorus. Not only is Mackenzie passionate about all of her extracurriculars, but she’s learned many lessons from them.

“All of these activities have really taught me how to balance my life,” Mackenzie said. “Sports are one of my main focuses in life; however, I want to succeed academically as well.”

Mackenzie has been playing soccer the longest out of all her sports. Following in her older brother’s footsteps, she joined the American Youth Soccer League, a local soccer club, and soon developed a love for the game.

“[I like playing] soccer the most,” Mackenzie said. “I’ve just been playing it the longest; almost my entire life. I enjoy every part of it.”

Track and Field was an opportunity for Mackenzie to try something out of her comfort zone—which is a tough task for most.

Mackenzie’s soccer origin was influenced by her family’s love for the sport; however, she is grateful for the bias towards the game. Soccer is now one of her many athletic devotions. Easy friendships and thrill for the competition are what have kept Mackenzie’s heart in it these past years.

Although she does not know what is in store for her in this sport, she is content in how it has gone so far. Soccer has taught Mackenzie to pursue what she enjoys doing. It also eases her mind to know that there are other extracurriculars that pique her interest.

“[Doing other] sports does help me with soccer,” Mackenzie said. “It keeps me in shape, and we work on a lot of the same things.”

Field hockey is one of her more recent sports that she is pursuing. At first glance, there is no similarity between field hockey and soccer—but that could not be farther from the truth. Not only do the two sports focus heavily on cardio and endurance, but the atmosphere of both have similar positive characteristics.

“Field hockey has girls from central, northern, eastern,” Mackenzie said. “It is a great way to meet a bunch of good people, and I have a lot of fun with all of the different people involved.”

Mackenzie has found that she not only adores the drive to better yourself in the sport but better yourself as a whole person. She is surrounded by many friends and positive peers in the field hockey program. Being a part of field hockey has taught Mackenzie many important lessons—most applying not only to the sport but to her life outside of it. One of those lessons includes branching out to other things.

“I started track and field because of my friends,” says Mackenzie. “They convinced me to do it with them even though it’s not like my other sports, and now I’m planning on joining the team in the spring.”

Friends are all about pushing you to try new things. For Mackenzie, joining track and field was no exception. Convinced by her friends, Mackenzie started with a wide range of support. Unlike soccer and field hockey, track and field is not a contact sport. That does not stop Mackenzie from transferring the lessons she learned from her other sports to this one.

Track and field was an opportunity for Mackenzie to try something out of her comfort zone—which is a tough task for most.

“I am also in the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus that Mr. Ivory runs,” Mackenzie said. “I like all of the different songs we do because they’re all unique; plus, I really enjoy singing and want to continue with it.”

The Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Chorus is Mackenzie’s break from her whirlwind of sports. It is an artistic way to express herself that she sometimes cannot do in her other activities. Surrounded by peers who have the same interest builds a supportive environment that keeps Mackenzie coming back.

Sometimes her sports schedules overlap with the music schedule, which forces tradeoffs to be made. Mackenzie had to start the symphony chorus later than the rest of the kids because of her soccer schedule.

She loves all of the things she’s involved in; however, loving so many different things has its downsides.

“I would keep my busy schedule so I can do [all of it],” said Mackenzie. “I know that sometimes it does get very stressful; however, I really do enjoy getting to doing all of them.”

Mackenzie balances school, singing, track and field, soccer, and field hockey. Many people would obviously point out how heavy of a workload she must have. Doing all of these activities, however, have taught Mackenzie many different lessons about life and herself.

But how does she deal with the stress? Mackenzie has a simple, yet effective, outlook on how to balance everything because doing what you enjoy does not happen without struggles.

“Having so many things going on has taught me how high you need to value academics,” Mackenzie said. “You have to make sure that you get everything done so you can pursue your other interests. Having so many [interests] also taught me how important it is to find a balance.”