ROCK SPRINGS— Local boxers Sarah and Emily Garrison have the Olympics in their sights, but to get there, they know they must be able to focus on their athletic training without letting their academics slip.
Sarah, a ninth grader, has been boxing for five years, and Emily, who is in sixth grade, has been boxing for about three years. Sarah explained that she has dedicated about a third of her life to boxing. It is important to these girls to be able to take boxing seriously while maintaining a good and challenging education.
They have found that Wyoming Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school, allows them the flexibility to focus on education while simultaneously striving for their Olympic goals in boxing.
Prioritizing Both Boxing and Education
Sarah’s goal is to go to the 2020 Olympics in Japan, while Emily wants to go to the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles. However, as important as their boxing is to them, they also put a lot of value on education.
“School is one of the most important things in our lives to us,” Sarah Garrison said.
They both maintain 100 percent all around. Sarah is enrolled in honors classes, and though Emily is still too young to take honors classes, she is on track to do so.
The girls train for boxing for three to four hours every day, making traditional public schooling difficult. They found that online schooling allows them the flexibility to make both education and boxing top priorities.
Wyoming Connections Academy Allows Flexibility
Their experience with a traditional public-school setting was fine, but they feel that Wyoming Connections Academy is a better fit for them and their lives because of the flexibility the academy offers.
“We have more flexible hours that allows for our different training schedules, and also allows us to go to week-long tournaments,” Sarah said.
The girls wake up at 6:30 am and start training for about an hour. They then work on school until 10:25 am when they train for another hour or so. After that round of training, they work on school again until they go to the gym with their dad at 5:30 pm for a couple more hours.
Studying While Traveling
Sarah and Emily’s mom, Amanda Garrison, said the girls have four week-long tournaments each year, so the online schooling allows them to attend these tournaments without falling behind in classes.
“As far as Wyoming Connections Academy versus the brick and borders, for the traveling we do for their boxing… the Connections Academy allows them to work while they’re on the road and they don’t get behind on school, but they’re still able to travel and do everything they need to with boxing,” Amanda said.
Learning at Their Own Pace
Sarah and Emily started the virtual schooling about two and a half years ago, and they have really enjoyed their experience. They appreciate the ability to move at their own pace.
“For things we aren’t having a difficult time with, we can get through it quickly,” Sarah said. “It allows us to set our own schedule. If we need to take a little more time for math, then we can get that extra bit of time,” Sarah said.
The girls added that the teachers at Wyoming Connections Academy are very encouraging and helpful in making sure they understand everything they are learning.