Hulne: Recognize importance of lifting each other up

Published 2:44 pm Monday, November 28, 2022

The fIrst day of practice is filled with all sorts of emotions.

Nerves, excitement, fear, anticipation and motivation fill the air as a new team charts its course.

For all of the freshmen or first-time athletes experiencing their first ever high school practice this winter, I have a word of advice. Stick with it.

You may feel overwhelmed and you may even be second guessing your choice of joining the team or trying a new sport, but with time you will make solid friendships and life skills that will stay with you for much longer than the aches and pain your body is probably currently feeling.

I’ll never forget running ‘crushers’ in the gym as coaches screamed at us and the seniors left me in the dust in my freshman year of basketball, but I also remember the high fives and words of encouragement from teammates.

Practice is where team bonds are forged. It doesn’t happen under the bright lights of competition or during the overflowing praise of media members; it happens after a long day of school in an empty gym with nothing but a coach’s voice booming through the vast confines of a home court, wrestling room or rink.

While new players must stick with it, it is crucial that older players keep embracing their younger counterparts. If you are a senior who has been all-state, or even all-conference, don’t lose sight of the kids who are struggling to keep up.

Pull them aside and offer a quick word of encouragement, or slap them on the back and tell them to keep it up.

Those words could make all of the difference to that kid and moments like that can create an atmosphere that pushes a program to new heights. It can also make a team become more than a group of players who simply try to improve their skills and win games, it can make it a place for camaraderie, friendship and growth.

The roars of the crowd are nice, but they can quickly turn to boos or empty seats when results turn sour. At the end of the day, your teammates and your coaches are all you’ve got.

Treat them well.