The Importance Of High School Friendships

The Importance Of High School Friendships

You can't stay in touch with everyone, but your friendships that remain after high school are still important.
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It was my senior year of high school, late February. I was high jumping at the indoor state championship. One of my good friends, who was also a teammate, was jumping also; we would be competing against each other. This didn’t faze us, we had done it a million other times. We warmed, then sat down and talked to kill the time after warm up, like we always did. We both had a shot at winning, but we decided just to jump like we knew how to do. We had set a goal to take first and second together.

I don’t remember the early jumps other than we cleared them. The bar moved to five feet and not too many girls cleared that height. Then after 5’2” we were the only two left… we were going to take first and second. Once the last girl missed at 5’2” and we realized what had happened, my friend walked over to me and we high-fived and smiled. Then my friend said “So it’s every man for themselves now right?” I laughed, shook my head and said “yeah, right.” We knew we were going to both be cheering for each other.

Of course we both wanted to win. We are highly competitive individuals, but we were also friends and teammates. I was jumping second in the order just due to luck of the draw. Both of our first two jumps at 5’4” were misses. My friend’s last jump was a miss. It was my turn. If I cleared the bar, I would win the state championship — what I had been working toward for all of high school. If I missed, she would win.

There is a video my dad took of that jump from the stands, in the background you can hear my family cheering for me. The thing that stands out the most to me when I watch that video is my friend. She is standing there watching me jump. She knows the situation: I miss she wins, I make she loses. As soon as I start running she starts bouncing up and down like she is jumping for me and as soon as I get over the bar she leaps into this cheerleading style jump. Then she runs over to me and gives me a hug. That is friendship. I just beat her on one of the bigger stages of high school athletics, a title that most high school athletes strive for.

We went to colleges almost 400 miles apart and couldn’t be more different, but the relationship is still there. We text each other, call each other, Snapchat each other and see each other every time we are home. She is one of two friends from high school I am still close with. I love them both dearly.

I would encourage all of the incoming college freshman to remember your friends from high school. Most people have a story, like the one I told above, where one or more of their friends have shown true friendship. Don’t forget those stories; they are part of what made you. They left an impression. It is a given that you will grow apart from high school friends, but you have to make the effort to stay in touch with the ones that you want to stay in touch with. There will be excuses like being too busy, or that you will do it tomorrow. But how long does it take to shoot someone a quick text and see how they are doing? Less than 30 seconds.

I don’t stay in touch with a lot of people from high school, but the ones I do, I have quality relationships with. We are just as close if not closer than we were back then. Cherish your friends, life is finite and you never know when it might be gone.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Fulton

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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An 'Expert's' Thoughts On The Worst Loss Of The Saban Era

Dabo Swinney solidifies Clemson as an elite college football program.

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Monday night, the Clemson Tigers were crowned national champions in one of the all-time beatdowns in the history of college football. Some may think that phrase is a bit harsh, but I can't show my bias in this situation. In fact, there is no real way to spin the game into something positive. Sure the referees missed a couple pass interference calls, you can even take away both of Tua's interceptions, I still think Alabama loses that game by 17-plus. That's how big the gap was between the two schools.

The first quarter of the game seemed to be typical championship shootout. Clemson forced an early pick-six but Alabama came right back with a 62-yard touchdown by Jerry Jeudy. The tide was actually leading 16-14 at the start of the second. Then it all went wrong from there. Clemson proceeded to move the ball all the way down the field for a dominating 65-yard drive which only lasted 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Next drive Tua throws an awful interception which is returned for over 40 yards giving Clemson the short field again. Three and a half minutes later it's 28-16. Clemson closes out the half with a field goal and now it's 31-16.

Everyone's mindset at this point was "Alabama and Nick Saban have a pretty good track record of having second-half comebacks." And with the first drive of the second half, it seemed as if they were starting to get their stuff together. Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs lead the offense down to the Clemson 22 before an incomplete pass on third and six made Saban trot out the field goal unit. Sure a field goal in this situation wasn't ideal but it would have made it a 12 point game and given the defense some momentum. Instead, but occurred was the worst decision a Saban lead team had ever made. A fake field goal, up the middle with the kicker as the lead blocker. And Clemson was ready for it.

WOW! Botched fake field goal ( college championship game ) YouTube

It was at this moment even though I didn't want to say it when I knew we had lost the game. It was a panic move by Saban at a time where the team just needed some sort of points. I understand that our kicker has struggled but if you want to go for it on fourth and six don't do a fake field goal, just keep the offense out there. I even disapprove of that.

Trevor Lawrence and the offense now back on the field was able to score in three plays which included a 74-yard touchdown pass to Justin Ross who lit up the secondary all night long. When it was all said and done the Tigers won 44-16, scoring 30 unanswered points to close out the game.

I sat up all night trying to fathom how this could have happened. It bothered me so much that I actually started rewatching the game (thanks Youtube). Yep, I relived every painful moment secluded in my room, cautiously evaluating every meaningful snap of the game. I was also simultaneously looking at the statistics of the game and when I brought it all together I figured out Dabo's formula to beat us. It was having elite receivers who can win every 50-50 ball, it was a defensive front which can make the quarterback uncomfortable, it was a secondary who can force multiple turnovers, it was a coaching staff that hasn't lost a coordinator in seven years, it was an offensive line which can keep the quarterback from getting touched at all (this is actually true). The short answer to all of this is that Dabo Swinney and Clemson was able to beat Nick Saban and Alabama by becoming them.

Think about it. Everything I just listed above is what the tide has been doing for the past 12 years. Other teams have been trying to replicate it for years but to no success. Now someone has finally figured it out until now.

Now I'm not here to say that the Saban dynasty is all over. When looking at all of the great dynasty's in sports every single one had a rival to tie it too. Michael Jordan's Bulls had the Detroit Pistons, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had the New York Giants, LeBron James had the San Antonio Spurs. When you really look at Saban's era he really hasn't had a true rival who consistently got in his way of winning a championship until Monday. Clemson is the first real threat Alabama has had in over a decade.

Swinney and the Tigers kicked our behinds, there's no defending that. It was awful. But it could be the wake-up call Saban's team needs. They aren't just going to run through the entire league anymore. The rest of the country is catching up and Alabama needs to play like they haven't won in a decade.

This was the fourth time these two teams have met in four years. And contrary to some outlets who don't like to tell the whole story, Alabam and Clemson are now 2-2 in their College Football Playoff series. And I have a feeling the 2019-20 season will hold the tiebreaker.

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