Dear High School football player,
As a former player myself who never came close to playing beyond high school, I wanted to share what I would like to consider wisdom with you. These are things that I wish I would have known prior to my senior year.
1. Four years is not forever.
I can not stress this enough. You only have four years to play this game with your childhood friends, and while you are in high school four years feels like forever but it will be over in the blink of an eye so take the time to take it all in and enjoy the little moments like laughs on the bus, or the feel of the dew on the turf. Remember how it feels to float down the halls in your jersey.
2. Don't skip practice.
You are in high school and you want to have a good time. There will come times where you want to skip a practice to hang out with that girl who just might let you get to second base. My advice is don't because when you are older you are more likely to miss those practices with your buddies than you are some girl.
3. Someday you will respect your mean coach.
Every school has that coach who is a little too high strung. They push the limits while pushing you in the weight room or on the field. While you may hate this coach during your four years, that coach will likely be the one you go out of your way to shake hands with in the future.
4. Enjoy the atmosphere!
Travel into any small town in America on a Friday night in the fall and you are likely to see stadium lights shining above cornfields complemented by a steady stream of headlights winding towards the field. Feel the buzz that hums around the field during warmups. Enjoy the community's support, from painted storefront windows to the fans who line the streets or walkways to wish you luck.
5. Camp will be hard, but will make you better.
I know that a lot of players dread the start of their fall camp. It is typically almost as much running as it is working on X's and O's. This is during the warmest days of the football season. It will push you to your limits and maybe beyond but the rest of the season you will be able to say that this is nothing compared to what you faced in camp.
6. Put your work in during the offseason.
If you are not conditioning and lifting year-round then you are not only failing yourself but also your teammates. Other teams will be running hills and lifting, you can not allow other teams (or other teammates) to outwork you. Plus, those early morning team runs create some good memories.
7. Remember that you are a role model.
Growing up I idolized many members of my school's varsity team. When I became a member of the varsity team, I realized that eyes were on my teammates and I. I get it, you are 18 or younger and you want to act like it but when you wear your gear out in public or you attend a pep rally, you lose the right to behave poorly. If you are in a small town everyone already knows that you are on the team anyways. Swearing, fighting, or getting in trouble with drugs and alcohol reflects poorly on your team.
8. It won't matter how much you play in a few years from now.
I was fortunate enough to play on a very successful team during my senior year of high school. That is not to say that I was a good player, because I wasn't. I tried hard but I was just a supporting player. At the time I would feel defensive about it but as you grow older and see your old teammates nobody cares how much you played but rather how successful of a team you were.
9. Do your course work too.
Not to sound cliche' but you are a student athlete and student comes first for a reason. There must be no worse feeling in the world than standing in street clothes in front of the full bleachers because you couldn't pass your classes. Don't let your teammates down, do your work.
10. Have fun!
Football is a sport that requires a lot of time and effort. It takes its toll on your body and if you are not careful, it can become a drag. Don't let the losses linger, nurse your bumps and bruises but most of all, enjoy it. Enjoy being with your classmates on the field.
I am hopeful that if you follow this advice that you will be able to not only enjoy the season but savor memories which will last you a lifetime. I know that when my classmates and I long to go back to the high school days we always wish that it could be for one more Friday night in the fall.
Good luck and have fun.