The end of the school year for graduating high school seniors means senior recognition. Students who have achieved honors for being the valedictorian or male and female athlete of the year. What does this mean for the future of these senior graduates?
We visited with outstanding athletes (now adults) who were selected ‘athlete of the year’ ten to twenty years ago. We also visited with some excellent athletes who were NOT selected as ‘athlete of the year.’ We asked them how it has affected their lives NOW…this many years later. This is what they shared with us:
Athlete of the Year recipient: “Honestly, it did not affect me or my success at all. The only reason I was chosen is because ‘George’ (classmate) got a minor for drinking alcohol. He went on to play college football and then played in the NFL later.”
Athlete who was NOT chosen: “I quit track after my sophomore year in high school to pursue my passion for volleyball, and at that time I was ‘threatened’ by the track coaches that if I did not go out for track again the next year, I would NOT get athlete of the year in my senior year. I was very hurt by the threat in high school. It made me second guess my decision-making but also helped me realize that I wanted to get away from my home town and be different from the norm…actually play volleyball at the highest level possible and also make the full four years of college without quitting, which I accomplished. Since then I’ve always gone the extra mile to prove I’m good enough.”
Athlete of the Year recipient: “Twenty years ago it made me feel like the award honored my talents and me as a person. The award gave me a feeling of being a part of a past and future special group (legacy) at the high school that will always be inside the school walls for people to see. Being in athletics gave me an identity. I was not the straight A student, but was an A athlete. I felt like all my hard work had paid off at that point in my life. Twenty years later I feel like the award has done little to impact my life other than I am very active in my boys sports endeavors. I am a parent-coach and am always looking for more opportunities to get my children to be the best athletes/students/ teammates they can be—with or without an award.”
Athlete who was NOT chosen: “I never really thought too much about it because I was so excited to be moving on to the next stage in life. I always participated in sports because I enjoyed it, and was able to compete while spending time with friends. I still have some of those friendships even now years later. We survived some pretty tough practices together—pushing each other and cheering each other on. The friendships made it all worth it…a little winning (like um, being undefeated 🙂 ) really helped too!”
The moral of this story? Strive for excellence, seniors, not the award! Being the best you can be is more important than a title! The title of athlete of the year or valedictorian or scholarship recipient is a great achievement; however, this title acquired will not be remembered by many ten years from now! Of course, YOU (and your parents) will remember! What is most important is…did you give your all? Did you do the best you could? Did you strive to be excellent at whatever you chose to do? That’s all that truly matters!
As you go off and experience life on your own, strive for excellence…always!!!