It's tournament time again. That means that in the next few weeks, teams from myriad schools, including Monomoy, will set out on a quest, competing not only to advance, but ideally to win. Though the members of these teams are probably already overloaded with advice, I'd like to offer my own, and it's fairly simple: remember why you play.
Most often, a sport becomes a favorite early on, perhaps in childhood, but not necessarily through an organized program. Many times kids develop a love for a particular athletic activity by doing what they do best – playing, not on a team but with friends in the driveway, at recess, or in pickup games at local community centers.
Those moments inscribe themselves in memories, treasured and cherished, flowing through a player like game fuel. They don't care where they play. They just want to play.
Some keep to the playgrounds and the local parks, but others looking to go further join youth programs, play for middle school teams, and do what they can to prepare for competition at the high school level.
Sadly, in too many cases, unrealistic expectations are placed on these young athletes, expectations of becoming a high school star with their name on the 1,000-point club banner. Expectations of becoming scouted by Division 1 colleges and universities looking for the next big gun. Expectations of being scouted, drafted, chosen to play beyond college, despite the realities of this actually happening.
Those expectations can begin to weigh on a person, turning a game once beloved into drudgery and work. I say that no matter what the expectations are, it's time to get back to the fun part. It's time to remember what drew you to your favorite sport in the first place and play from that joy, that passion, that love.
Enjoy this time, these games; enjoy your teammates and remember that this is your time to shine. Just have some fun while you do it.