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November Pain

The leaves are beautiful as the flutter to the ground. The weather brings out the scarfs and the clattering of teeth. The defrost is working magic every morning to clear the windshield of commuters. Welcome to November. Axel Rose once said "nothin' lasts forever" in the hit song November Rain (fantastic song).  Now that the costumes and pumpkins are away, it's time to turn to a happy time. Everyone is about to get ready for the holiday season. Usually seen as the "Most wonderful time of the year" for high school athletes that play fall sports, the pressure is on. 


Quick background about myself, I played sports my whole life. To this day I have friends from when I was a child playing football. My pads were too big, my mouth piece was chewed to the point of no return, I exhaled as hard as I could to see the smoke of my breath. A decade plus later and I still remember moments like this, I remember the huddles where the play was called. I remember the half time speeches and the orange peels we always threw on the ground. It was probably only a handful of oranges, but it looked like an entire produce section. Fast forward to present day and this is what I'm left with.


I'm not an isolated incident either. Ask anyone that has played a sport, ask any high school athlete about their sport. Ask them what they love about high school sports. Most will say they love the game, and that is true. Loving the game is what helps every athlete push through during a tough practice, or dig deep in the final seconds of a game. If you ask that question again, however, mostly every single athlete will talk about their teammates. Every single high school athlete will compare their freshman year selves to senior year. From adolescent to adulthood, that is what these students endured.


Senior year, the rulers of the school. Nothing can go wrong this year. At least until November. The start of the playoffs mean that on the one hand, a group of athletes will have the best fall of their lives. However for the most it's a terrible awaking. 


My last football game was a championship game. My team was undefeated and we knew it was the last game we would ever play together. I don't remember the final score, I just remember we lost. I was inconsolable. To this day I have never cried that much, it wasn't just the loss. I was never putting the pads on again, I was never playing with my teammates ever again. I was losing coaches, teammates parents, another family. I was inconsolable. 


The terrible truth is that there are athletes all over Long Island, all over the country, that will be hit with this same feeling. Only one team can experience pure euphoria. The rest will be struck with a heavy wake up call. Like the snap by Thanos everything will change. That final whistle will never be louder. The most important thing for these senior athletes to do is enjoy every moment. Every play. Every laugh. Every second. Nothing lasts forever, except for these memories made.

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