By CAROLINA SANCHEZ
As the first season of high school sports slowly closes, with it drags the end of an era for most seniors. It consisted of the last match, the last pasta feast, the last time stepping on the court, the last time sweating in a jersey, the last time competing in a sport that is loved. And it’s hard, knowing that one might never be in competition ever again. This is especially prevalent in football. Because golf is a lifelong sport, tennis and volleyball always have recreational leagues, and running turns into a passion once the season is over, tackle football does not have the same opportunities. Football, for most athletes, ends once the final buzzer sounds.
For those who have put their heart and soul into getting better, faster and stronger, there is no longer an outlet for that heart. For those who have spent years in love with playing, there is no longer a place for that love. For those who have skipped hanging out with friends, missed school for a game, spent late nights doing homework after practice and woke up early for games it is now over. For some it has only been four years and for others it has been a decade, but the love of the game they have played is all the same.
From the injuries to the meltdowns and from the wins to the losses, every minute has had meaning. And for the seniors it is heartbreaking to leave behind a part of one’s identity. For many, it has been a defining characteristic and a part of who they have become. Because sports teaches athletes teamwork, how to take rejection after working hard, how to be kind, how to make friends and how to get up when a person falls and has taught everyone that self-improvement is the key factor for success. Most importantly, sports teach love. A love for a game, for a person or team and for yourself. Teammates are the first people outside one’s family that are loved, the court or field are the first places that feel like a second home and coaches are the first people that a kid looks up to other than their parents.
The end of an era is okay to be sad about. It is okay to cry at a last game or match. It is okay to feel lost after the final scores are in. It is okay to be sad. But the time spent with the game over the past years should be seen in admiration for all that the athletes have accomplished. It should be looked back upon with great admiration at all the laughs at practice, the friendships and memories made, the rewarding wins and the love that is felt for every minute with people that are family.
Because sports is more than an outlet for stress or exercising; they are a defining part of each and every athlete and are a major part of every childhood.