Hulne: Sports are a great to way to find your way

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, June 9, 2022

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It’s already June and I can’t believe we’re just putting the finishing touches on another sports season.

Seniors have said their goodbyes at graduation, most area athletes have entered offseason mode and kids are left with nothing but free time and dreams of summer of fun.

When I think of my transition from high school to the final summer, I recall a lot of uncertainty. I had to say goodbye to all that I knew. My friends were all heading to different colleges and my family was giving me the not so subtle push out the door into adult life.

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I chose to remain close to my alma mater of Shell Lake, Wisconsin, by attending Barron County Community College in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and I eventually went to journalism school at the Univeristy of Wisconsin-River Falls. Both places were strange to me, but I found my way at each college thanks to my love of sports.

It was UWBC where I found a group of friends, simply by working as the game room supervisor and being invited to play football after school with a group of complete strangers. Eventually those strangers became my friends and they served as familiar faces in the classroom.

When I got to UWRF one of those football friends coincidentally ended up with a dorm room right next to mine, and once again, I found myself making friends and connections through pick-up football games outside of my dorm and pick-up basketball games on campus.

We kept score in those games and you always wanted to win, but mostly we built up our friendships and became closer than ever before. I met my lifelong best friend in those pick-up games and we still joke about the time he caught an alley-oop over my head and laid it in instead of trying to dunk on me.

It was his only chance to posterize me and I think he still regrets it to this day.

I hope all of the departing seniors who have played sports are able to find a way to keep playing next year, whether it’s with friends, or on an intramural team. Just because you aren’t able to play at the college level, does not mean you give up your passion.

After all, sports aren’t always about chasing the highest level. They can simply be about competing, having a blast, and forging lifetime friendships.

That’s what they were for me.