I was watching a high school tournament on television last weekend and during the closing award ceremonies, a thought occurred to me. No it wasn’t about the winning team and how the game was won or how great those trophies and medals looked. My thoughts turned to the seniors on both teams. For these athletes, this is it. The end of the road. From the look on their faces as they received their awards, they seemed to be thinking the same thoughts as me. It is all over.
Sure, some of these athletes will go and play at the college level but for many high school athletes, this is it, the ending of a sports career that probably began around 10 years earlier when they stepped on the field or court for the first time. It may have been a Saturday morning youth football or basketball league.
As the year’s progressed, things got a little more competitive. No more guaranteed playing time and trying to become the best you can be was the main point of emphasis. Some athletes had visions of becoming all-state or conference and felt the need to put in many hours of hard work and sweat while others just wanted to make the team or win a starting spot. Whatever level you played at, the common denominator was the amount of time and effort you had to put in. While some of your buddies went home after school to relax and kick back, you had to go directly to practice and put in your time. Sometimes it was the last thing you wanted to do but you did it.
Suddenly, that career is over. All those games and practices are just a memory. The final chapter is finished. As someone who played high school sports and played a little at the college level, my advice to any high school athlete is to enjoy it while it lasts. Unless you go on and play at a glamorous college, nothing will top the thrill of playing high school sports. The memories will last your whole life. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it is worth it. The coach is a jerk, you don’t get enough playing time or you would rather work and earn money. But hey, you have the rest of your life to work and earn money! There are so many benefits of playing a sport in high school that cannot be taught in the classroom. Never, never take it for granted. Before you know it, that career will be done with. It certainly goes by fast.