Sports Column: Seniors, this what you truly learn from being an athlete

Published 9:30 am Monday, March 20, 2023

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By LAUREN SEXTON | Sports Reporter

It’s hard to believe that this is my last column as a sports reporter for the Shelby County Reporter. I am so grateful for the incredible experience that I have had covering Shelby County athletics, but now it is time for me to follow the next opportunity.

In the eight months that I have worked at the paper, I have met so many amazing players and coaches. Being able to tell their stories and highlight their talent made my job worthwhile. With graduation right around the corner, I feel like the Class of 2023 and I have something in common, we are off on our next adventure.

Beginning the next chapter after graduating from high school is often daunting. There comes a fork in the road, and it can lead you down many different paths, however, being an athlete prepares you for life after high school, even if you aren’t continuing your athletic career at a collegiate level. Being an athlete growing up prepares you physically, emotionally and mentally.

It is no secret that you aren’t probably going to have the same workout routine as you did in high school. Life gets busy with college or your career, and you don’t have the opportunity to work out twice a day for two hours as you did in high school. However, you can find ways to rework the exercise routines that you learned while you were a student-athlete which will come in handy. This helps you avoid the infamous freshman 15 and continue to have a healthy lifestyle.

Like most high schoolers, I used to eat everything I could get my hands on after practice. I could inhale a whole pizza in a matter of seconds and be fine since my metabolism was so high and I spent hours burning calories at practice. The harsh truth is you should probably take the advice of the school athletic trainer and stick with a healthy diet regimen. Maybe not the kind that is super restrictive, but something that can help you continue to be healthy.

What an athlete gains from the mental strength that they build from playing sports throughout high school is something you don’t realize until long after you have thrown your cap in the air at graduation and hung up the robe. All the time athletes spend training, staying focused on their goals, and maintaining school work is all due to their mental strength. This is something that you can use later in life when you need to find balance, I didn’t realize this until recently.

Out of everything you learn from being an athlete, the most beneficial thing you learn is how to be emotionally strong. As cheesy as it may sound, life is like a game. Playing a sport sets a person up for things they will experience in life. You learn how to handle disappointment, you learn how to be humble and you learn how to work as a team. It prepares you to be a better person.

Just because your career as an athlete might come to an end, doesn’t mean that your involvement in the sport ceases to exist. I have come to the age where I, my friends and the people I have gotten to know to make the transition from player to coach. After my years of competitive swimming, I became a coach. My friends who dedicated their lives to sports became football, basketball, soccer and softball coaches. Just because you aren’t a player anymore doesn’t mean that you have to disconnect from the sport completely. You have the ability to influence the next generation of athletes.

While everything must come to an end when the final buzzer goes off, the next venture is always right around the corner. Being an athlete taught me that. With all that I have written in the past several months, I want to leave you with this one last thought. Games and seasons always come to an end, but what you learn from being an athlete stays with you forever.

Thank you, Shelby County for welcoming me into the world of Shelby County athletics, I am forever grateful for all that I have learned.