By Travis Stahl
The end of the school year is a bittersweet time for high school seniors. Their time is done on the field, court, course or track. There are some who will be able to continue to do what they love as a hobby by playing golf or jogging. But for some high school athletes, they will never play the sport they love again and that can be a difficult emotion to come to grips with.
High school sports are the most exciting experience in the lives of some students. Sports build bonds and friendships that can last a lifetime and instills character. There are some employers who specifically ask during interviews if prospective employees played sports. Why? Because athletes are competitive, they thrive to succeed.
Over time the sport becomes as much a part of who the athlete is as eye color, hair style or fashion choices. The sport defines them as a person and allows them to express themselves in ways nothing else can. And just like that, it’s gone.
How many kids play high school football? A lot. And when the season is over as a senior the vast majority of those players accept that they will never put pads on again, never step on the field again, never catch another pass over the outstretched arms of the defender. Baseball players will never stare down a pitcher and feel the sting of the bat in their hands upon contact, the same goes for softball players. The game will leave them because it has to.
Some former athletes have difficulty after high school adjusting to life after sports. Without athletics they are left with a void that is hard to understand let along replace. Playing golf on a Saturday afternoon with friends is a far cry from hitting a jumper in somebody’s face or leaning into the finish line in the 100-meter dash. The only thing former athletes have to their sporting name is the memories they cherish and the stories they will exchange with friends for the rest of the days.
Graduation will officially close the chapter on another class of athletes now facing the world as new people. They are no longer wrestlers or quarterbacks, they used to be point guards and third basemen and now they are people who wish they were young again. We all do.