Many high school athletes are entering or have started their last winter sport sectionals. For many of these teenage athletes it is the last time they will ever compete in an organized event. For others, it just the closing of one quarter and time-out until the next begins. But as these athletes finish their last go around wearing their high school jerseys with the numbers they hold dear to them with the girls they grew up with, this chapter ending is much more than just the final buzzer sounding.
As you play each tournament game take it in. Take it all in. Look around before you start your warm up and breathe. Look at the student section and see your classmates in spirit shirts. Look up at your parents and grandparents section of the bleachers. Look at your parent's faces and acknowledge how nervous and emotional they are for you. Look at your coaches and notice how much of their time and heart they have dedicated to this program and season. Now, look into your teammates' eyes. Realize how they react when you talk to them; how much they trust you to lead them, in both your words and your playing. Often towards this time of the year, seniors get caught up in themselves, which is fine, it is a huge time in your life. It is so important and the last few games will mean even more to you if you acknowledge just how many people are supporting you.
Be proud. Obviously losing is the worst feeling, especially final game of your final season. Nothing quite stings as badly. But, after you wipe the final tear that your glory road has come to a dead end, breathe and move on. Because the thing is, it's not meant to last forever. High school only lasts for four years for a reason. You should be beyond proud of yourself and what you have accomplished. And to each their own on those glories. Don't think of that final game when you reflect on your high school sports career, remember the countless victories and the incredible plays that happened along the way.
I know the feeling of looking up at the scoreboard and seeing the realization that you cannot come back twenty plus points in a minute and forty-six seconds. I can still feel the deep pain that rushed through you after that. I can still put myself in that moment when I was subbed out and the first salty tear hit my dehydrated lips. I can feel the squeeze in my coaches hugs and the love in my teammates' words. Losing is the last thing from fun, but it happens. There are no ties in the end. But after the game is over, the locker room is cleared, the bus is parked, go be with your team and reminisce on the laughs and stories.
Sports can seem like your entire world in high school, I know they were for me. My advice and words of kindness for all seniors about to go through the "good-game" ending line in tears, is to not let your sadness override the remarkable career you had. Be proud of yourself and thankful to everyone who got you to the end of your incredible journey. #blessed