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Some sporting advice to the graduates

POSTED July 01, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                                Some sporting advice to the graduates 

            Ahh, so what advice can I impart to those high school athletes that have walked across the stage in recent days and graduated into the rest of their lives? After all, age and wisdom are supposed to go hand in hand to some degree.

            This is not a novel idea. I have done two or three of these columns in the past to offer a few handy hints for those who will now no longer need a physical, permission slip or passing grades to dribble, run, kick or whatever lies ahead. The world will certainly be different.

            Have I missed anything over the years? Undoubtedly. So here’s a few final thoughts to those now moving from the scholastic athletic world to the recreational world. This is also the last time I will address this subject since my wife’s reaction to the column was, ‘Really? Again?’ I know when enough is enough.


            Your boss is no longer Mr. or Mrs. Athletic Director.  It is now your town recreation director. Any money you have to cough up and you will have to cough up some greenbacks will be addressed to your town’s sporting department. So good-bye to Janet Giampaolo at Torrington, Fred Williams at Northwestern Regional, Pat Cook at Gilbert, Bill Ryan at Thomaston, Matt Perachi at Shepaug, Linda Farrington at Terryville and all the other athletic directors who took your money, checked your grades and pored over your discipline file. They are now history.     

            If you continue to play, you will get better and you will be offering the lament – “If I only knew in high school what I know now.” It happened to all of us.

            You will not be able to add any points, goals or championships to your high school totals. I know some people who have tried. It doesn’t work that way. One friend of mine scored 300 points in high school and is now claiming to be a 1,000 point scorer due to a fine Over-30 Basketball League career. I told him the CIAC does not recognize post-diploma exploits.      

            Remember the rivalries? Good, because they are now over. There is limited at best recreational battles with your old foes and I’m hard pressed to tell what they are. Bottom line? You can start accepting the idea that the other side has a right to coexist. Hey, some of those opponents you wanted to punk are now in some cases going to be teammates. You’ll have good memories  but jacked up gyms are a thing of the past.  I know for many of you this will be difficult to adjust to but you will mellow as time goes by. 

            Respect your elders because now instead of being your coaches they just might be your teammates and they may be twice as good as you. On the recreational courts and fields, 30 is close to prime time. Forget that and prepare to be schooled.

            If you are a pole vaulter, you are now retired. The only thing you will use a pole for now is fishing or to hang a flag on. Sorry, it is just not a big activity with the post-high school crowd.

            You now have a lifetime of eligibility. Nobody is going to come up to you and say you are too old or you can only play for four years. How long you play is up to you and your hamburger and French fry intake. Also family matters as you get older. But, you will call the shots.

            There will be no discount on your athletic gear unless Sports Authority or Dick’s is having a sale. That high school discount is long gone. Save your money, you are going to need it. And not all for equipment, but more on that aspect of recreational sports at another time.

            You will probably switch teams many times in your career for many reasons. You might not like collecting splinters. You may have a few disagreements with the coach, you may move, another team may form that you want to play with. You will have options. But, don’t burn too many bridges. Either way you will find change or vice-versa.

            You runners and lord knows there is a proud contingent of fleet feet out there; you are on your own now. No one pushing you, no Wickham Park to look forward to. In fact in you are Wickham you will be watching or being arrested for trespassing. Hopefully you will keep it up. But many of you will switch to running for office, running to the bathroom or running for your life. It is what happens.

            Note to self – in the post high school world darts, jarts, setback, poker and mini-golf are considered sports.  And ultimate Frisbee is on the rise. Deal with it.

            The cheerleader thing is gone. There will be no uniform-clad, pom-pom waving supporters yelling, `We got the fever’ or ‘Rah, rah, sisk boom bah.’ There will be no splits, tumbles or pyramids unless your mothers, spouses and significant others are extremely talented and in good shape. You will adjust.

               Remember those trips to Housatonic or Ansonia. All done. If you end up in Falls Village again, you will be severely lost, on some kind of nature outing or on your way to Lime Rock to watch some car racing. If you are in Ansonia it is probably to watch the Chargers play football.

            Should you win a title or maybe even a state title there will be no trips to the state capital to cozy up to your state representative. You might get a trophy and a high-five or fist bump. Maybe a jacket or something depending on your team. You might also get a headache the next morning. More on that at another time. But your longest trip will be back home.

            More than anything you will have a lot of fun for a long time. So I retire this column with a hearty good-luck.

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