There comes a time when one realizes his or her sports career is coming to an end. It is a depressing time. It was for me.
My youth sports career was limited by my lack of focus. I played soccer and basketball and baseball and tennis and golf. I did not play any of these sports at a high level. I didn't even know that there were higher levels above town leagues. And I guess my parents were not too eager to find out about them either.
In 9th grade, my best days of baseball were behind me and I had fallen behind in soccer to players who knew that there was another level. Additionally, I was not tall enough for basketball and did not have the great ball handling skills to make it as a guard. At the time, there were no HS golf teams, so playing competitively did not cross my mind. That left tennis. I was really good at tennis, but it was not my passion. I decided to tryout for the tennis team. My high school was highly ranked, so I knew that it was not going to be an easy team to make. My dad belonged to a tennis club, so we played a couple of times a week in the mornings to prepare. He also invested in some lessons for me. When tryouts came around, I thought that I was ready. Unfortunately, the coaching staff did not. Very few freshman made the team and I was not one of the chosen few.
I immediately called the baseball coach and asked if it was to late to tryout for the baseball team. He allowed me to join in the later rounds of the tryouts, but I realized he was not paying any attention to me. When he posted the cut list, I saw my name. I wallowed in self-pity for the entire season. It was the first season that I did not have a sport to play. I didn't even pick up a racquet that season to play for fun. In fact, I never picked up a racquet to play competitively ever again.
Luckily, there was a new sport emerging, lacrosse. Few kids had played the sport growing up so I was not too far behind. My lax friends encouraged me to play. I picked up the game very quickly and found my passion. I made the JV team and eventually played on the varsity team. The game made me much much tougher. The game made me much more fit. And most importantly, the game gave me confidence and not just on the lax field. If I had all of these qualities before, I could have made the squads in any of the other sports I had played previously.
My son is going through a similar cycle and this fall is the first fall that he did not have fall ball baseball or golf or basketball. He was the last freshman cut from the golf team despite playing well. His baseball team broke up so he tried out for 4 club teams. He did not make any of the teams, his lingering arm problems finally caught up to him.
He felt the same way I did when I was in 9th grade.
The Main Point
I gave up on tennis after my setback, I will not let Nic give up on golf. Looking back, he wished that he had dropped baseball before last year to concentrate on golf. His friends that made their teams had played all spring and summer long to prepare for golf, Nic only played the three weeks between the end of baseball and the golf tryouts.
Then this fall he did what I did. He found a new sport. He found boys volleyball. He joined a pre-season club team and learned the game. He fell in love with it. He signed up for tryouts for the club season, but a stress fracture in his back have derailed those plans for now. Hopefully he can get back to playing so he can prepare for the HS season.
Regardless, there comes a time when competitive sports stop and real life begins. Luckily, real life includes intramural sports and co-ed adult leagues.