From the Sidelines: Open Letter to Graduating Senior Athletes
by Coach Keith Champion
This is the time of the year that seniors say goodbye to their high school years and hello to the next stages of life. I would like to use today’s column to write an open letter to all of those graduating seniors who have participated on athletic teams in their high school years.
Dear Graduating Athlete,
You are in the process of finishing a course you began years ago when your parents enrolled you in kindergarten to begin your educational journey. Your journey has included growth in many areas. The academic challenges met, the social skills developed, and the physical growth seen, are all a part of the bigger picture of the educational process.
You participated in sports for a variety of reasons. You may have loved the challenge. It could be you liked the camaraderie of being on a team. Perhaps you were highly skilled and received a lot of recognition for your efforts. Maybe being on a team was just something to do to keep your interest in school, but whatever the case, you participated and were subject to learning all of the discipline and principles that being involved in athletics teaches.
As a graduating senior athlete, you have been challenged to set your goals high, stretch yourself, and to be industrious in all that you do. You have also been taught that athletics is a preparation for life and what you learn from being on a team is a microcosom of life. The things your coaches taught you about life are about to begin making sense. You will soon see what they meant.
You see, life will not always be fair. Athletics often were not. There will not always be victories just because you put in the effort. Failure will be right there to gobble you up and discourage you. Through the rest of your life, you will fall back on things that you were taught by your coaches. You will learn first-hand the meaning of locker room slogans and motivational phrases. You will have many opportunities to quit, and will feel like it often. You will want to throw in the towel, but your thoughts will go back to how sweet the victories were. You will remember the principles and effort it took to learn discipline, self-sacrifice, and perseverance. You will remember those things and make the application of those things to your everyday life. You will remember the “little things” that it took to be successful and you will keep going.
Your new life’s journey may have you continue in athletics, but most will not. You possibly could play in college, but most have taken off their competitive sneakers for the last time. Other than recreational league games, most will not be under a coach’s influence any longer. You will learn to appreciate the fact that you were a member of your high school team and had the opportunity to play sports.
As you graduate, don’t forget what you have been taught, both on and off the playing field. Be a leader among family and friends. Be a leader in your community or on your campus. Be a responsible citizen and a good representation of all of those who have invested their time to prepare you for this point in your life.
Athletics have played an important role in your educational process. Coaches, teachers, and parents have finished their task of training you. Make sure you thank them. Take what you have learned from all of them and make a smooth transition into “the rest of your life”. I wish you the best. We will all be cheering for you.
From the Sidelines