The Epic Highs and Lows of High School Sports
Hello and welcome to the Freshman Chronicles, a place in the SPECTRUM where I have the freedom to put on paper my unsolicited thoughts and feelings on different parts of being a freshman for everyone to read.
Each installation brings about a new topic, and this week’s subject of importance is high school sports, or more specifically, the highs and lows that come with them.
Sports. They’re a pretty prevalent part of our society, no matter what level they are being performed at. I know quite a few people who love to sit down and watch some Sunday Night Football, attend a high school game to experience where it all starts, or even watch small children try to chuck a basketball into a hoop that is about four times their height. Regardless of whether you identify with any of these examples, sports play a huge role in many people’s lives.
I’m not sure if any of you can relate, but sports have been a big part of my life since about 4th grade. I’ve been involved in volleyball and basketball for as long as I can remember, but I never really considered the impact they had on me.
About a month ago, I attended my little sister’s volleyball game, and let me tell you, it brought about a lot of emotions. Whether it was the urge I had to run out onto the court and get one last play in, or how upset I would get when the team would make a dumb mistake, I realized just how much I missed it.
After the game was over, I was hit with a longing to be a part of something like that again but also the knowledge that it would never happen. On the ride home, I had a nice long talk with my dad about just how different it was not being in high school sports anymore, and he informed me that it wasn’t going to get any easier because he still missed it, and it had been twenty-five years.
As we reminisced, a wave of understanding that I would never experience the same competitiveness or the same comradery that came with high school sports ever again crashed over me.
I know my whole schpeel makes me seem like I haven’t closed the yearbook, but I’m sure many other past athletes can relate when I say that, at one point, sports were my life.
Year-round I was busy with the sports seasons themselves, summer league, team camps, and all the outside work that goes into improving as an athlete. I’m pretty sure I spent more time with my teammates than I did with my family. My love for sports formed through the amount of time I put into them and the dedication that I had each day to become better.
As I stated earlier, upon entering seventh grade, I had already been a part of the elementary basketball and volleyball teams. Going into fourth grade, my parents signed me up for my first experience of a sport that would later become my friend and enemy: basketball.
In sixth grade, I joined the elementary volleyball team simply because my friends had, but I learned to love every part of it. In my three years of elementary athletics, I was able to cultivate a passion for being competitive and proving myself.
This definitely transferred over to how I would play and who I would become in the upcoming five years I would devote to high school athletics.
When it comes to volleyball, I was taught a lot about perseverance and leadership. Since seventh grade, I was determined that I would be a setter, not only because I loved playing the position but because I truly believed that I was incapable of any of the others.
I worked to improve myself every year, attending camps and leagues during the off-season to both get better as a setter and a teammate, but no matter how hard I tried, I always got beat out when it got to the season. Instead of seeing this as a setback, I powered through and decided that if I wasn’t going to be allowed to play the position I wanted, the least I could do was be the best where I was.
I continued working hard, and in 10th grade, I was moved up to varsity as a passer. Although this wasn’t the position I wanted to be playing, I continued giving it my all.
All my hard work paid off when I was moved to varsity setter my senior year. It was very unexpected because I had gone into tryouts hoping to be a part of the varsity team, but when our coach went through the list and our positions, I was thrilled to finally have reached my goal.
Through volleyball, I learned that working with what you are given is a fact of life and that never giving up on your dreams is the key to achieving them.
Now that I’ve given you the rundown on the epic highs of high school athletics, I want to introduce you to the other, more deep-rooted side of them: the lows. Up to this point, it might seem that my experience with high school sports was nothing but sunshine and rainbows, but it was quite the opposite.
Moving on to basketball, there is a completely different story. While I did learn a lot about pushing myself and teamwork, I also learned important lessons about disappointment and how to deal with that.
Since I was young, I have been a hard worker and have been taught that as long as I worked hard, I would succeed. Every day I came to practice and gave it my all, and in every game, I played like it was my last, leaving no regrets.
This tactic worked well for me from seventh to tenth grade, but when junior year season came around, I was completely ignorant of what was in store. At the beginning of the year, I was a starter, and I was so excited that all the hours I had put into the sport had finally shown in my status on the team. This all changed at the end of the season.
I vividly remember my coach coming into the locker room before a game, and as he was going through the game plan, throwing in the little F.Y.I that I would not be starting. As soon as he said this, I remember having the feeling of being a failure come over me and disappointment flooding my system. I wouldn’t start the rest of the season, but I eventually convinced myself that I should be happy if it was what was best for the team.
My coach gave me another chance and started me at the beginning of my senior year, but I was not guaranteed the spot. I say this because that spot was again taken away into the season without an explanation. At this point, I felt that I had let down my coach.
I went into a dark place that included a lot of self-degradation and loss of confidence because my hard work had, for the most part, paid off, but for some reason, this was just not enough for my coach. I attached myself to the idea that I should give up and play for fun.
This worked for a while, but I stopped gaining fulfillment. Reaching the end of the season, my coach decided to start me simply because I was one of six seniors, and he didn’t want to deprive me of starting when I wouldn’t have another chance after the season ended.
In all reality, this felt like more of a kick to the face than benching me, but I was grateful that at least this coach who I had, for the last nine years played for had enough respect to give me this one thing. I never stopped working hard my entire career, but I learned that working hard can only get you so far without talent.
I was never a great athlete, but I did put the time in at the gym to improve in the areas I was falling short, so I just relied on my coach to see that I cared and put in more time than most other individuals on the team. I just ended my season, and it might not be the way fourth-grade me had imagined, but I am glad for the lessons I learned, both positive and negative.
Basketball and I had a very complicated relationship. At some points, I was on top of the world while in others I considered quitting. Looking back, I’ve realized that this is because instead of finding joy in being part of the team and learning new things, I was seeking validation from those around me, especially my coaches.
I put my happiness and gauge of success in the hands of someone else and relied on their opinions for fulfillment. Basketball taught me that I should use my own version of success to feel good about my accomplishments and that no matter how many times you are disappointed, staying true to yourself and the faith you have in your abilities is the most valuable asset you can have with you.
High school athletics have impacted me in ways my younger self would have never thought. I have learned the importance of being part of a team and doing what is best for them, believing in yourself even when others don’t, and working hard no matter the situation.
I believe that the impact high school athletics has had on me, both positive and negative, is something very special and that the lessons I learned will stick with me for the remainder of my life.
When I was actually experiencing it, I had no idea how much of my life was and would be consumed by the important teachings of high school athletics. Sports will never really be the same, but I know that there are ways to ease this.
Whether it be a pickup game with my friends, living vicariously through my siblings’ experiences, or simply looking back on my time, I will always remember high school sports with a certain fondness.
I know I can’t be the only one going through this, so I hope that all my past student-athletes found a little comfort through this article. I know that moving on from something that was so influential in your life can be difficult, but it’s the reminiscing that really puts it all into perspective.
If your wanting to get more involved with sports here on campus here are my suggestions to you.
I personally haven’t participated in intramural, but I’ve heard nothing but good things. From what my friends have told me, intramural allows them to have fun with the sport they miss so much and brings just the right amount of competitiveness with it. I think this is not only a great way to revisit your days in high school sports but also form a new meaning behind the way you played them.
Use the Wellness Center Facilities
whether you do this alone or take a friend or two with you, you need to experience your sport again to bring a lot of healing I know that I’ve shot around a few times, and I get a lot of Happiness out of it even though I definitely lost my touch after my six-month Hiatus from Sports. Personally, I enjoyed getting to mess around and have fun, what’s a sport that sometimes brought me a lot of stress.
Have a Team Reunion Over Breaks
I come from a small town with about 10 players on the varsity girls’ basketball team, so my home team is always looking for volunteers to help out with practice. My team and I plan to get together to do just that, and when I say I can’t wait, I mean it. I look forward to not only getting to play my sport again but also seeing the new team in action.
With these suggestions in mind, I wish my fellow freshman good luck and God’s speed.