It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years, four if that last year in junior high is counted, and now I’m looking back at my high school years. It’s crazy to see how much I have changed, but also how much I have stayed the same during my time as a Lambkin. When I look back on all of that time, one memory sticks out more than any other as my best memory of high school. And of course it involves sports.
It’s the fall of freshman year. I’m stuck at practice, running plays as a scout teamer for the C football team. We’re being punished through conditioning, 25-minute bear crawls, and what my teammates and I believe to be at least 500 up-downs a week. I thought this was the worst time of my life.
Spring rolls around. I went through a pretty good baseball season. We lost one game right at the end of the season and I had played well, at least in my mind, all year. Now, spring football practices out on the soccer field starts. I’m confronted with what turns out to be one of the most important decisions I have made in my then 15-year-old life.
I had sat in my bedroom for weeks thinking about this decision. Did I really want to quit football? Freshman year had been a living hell, but I had new coaches and new teammates to look forward to at the JV level next year. I met some really cool guys who have become good friends. Do I want to let those friendships die? Do I really want to focus only on baseball?
I never went to any of the indoor practices in April because I wasn’t sure if I was going to play my sophomore year. I missed at least one, if not two, of the four practices we have in May. But after thinking about this for months on end, I finally came to a decision.
I kept playing football. I said to myself, “I’ll give it one more year, but if sophomore year is anywhere near as bad as freshman year, I’m done.” Turns out, that sophomore year was one of my favorite seasons of football ever, from fourth grade when I started playing flag to this past season, my senior year. I met the people who have turned out to be my best friends playing football. We now hang out on weekends and during summers playing volleyball over at Chipper’s and swimming at the dam at Warren Lake. I learned what hard work really meant. I learned that I could never let up during a practice or a game, because the one time you do, that’s when the team gets screwed. And one of the best parts of this decision is that it has allowed me to re-find a sport I loved as a child.
This spring I have been able to re-discover a sport that I decided to give up so I could focus only on football and baseball. Well, the baseball part ended right before what would have been my junior season, so I decided I would go out for swimming this year. Swimming is huge in my family. My brother and sister were both swimmers at FCHS, and I have a cousin who swam for LSU. I was always the odd one out. But now I have jumped back into it and now, I wish I had swam all four years.
Now, as I graduate and leave to go one to bigger things at Arizona State next year, I look back at my three (or four) years and I remember football camp at Chadron State, all the weights sessions, conditioning, and practices my boys and I went through. And then the games. I couldn’t imagine not being able to have stood on those sidelines and played in the games. It would have destroyed me. But I know that I will never have to know that feeling because of the decision I made back in my freshman year that I call the best decision I made in high school.