As I strolled from the student parking lot to the baseball diamond at Casa Grande High School last week, I couldn’t help but notice the buzz of activity.
This was just after 3 p.m., when today’s stereotypical teen was out of class and supposedly home having his mind corrupted by ultra-violent video games or having her hourly LOL session on her iPhone.
As I approached the campus, I could hear the clank of weights as football players prepared for next fall’s season. Off to my right, tennis players were leisurely warming up with soft volleys. In the distance, I could see lacrosse players engaged in full-speed practice. I could hear the hum of activity in the gym that was, I believe, badminton practice. On the track, young athletes were starting to run warmup laps. As I walked toward my destination, I passed the softball diamond, where the Lady Gauchos were preparing for a game. On the other side of the path, a junior varsity baseball game was about to begin. A little farther along, the umpires were already meeting with captains prior to the start of the varsity baseball game. When I left after my game had ended, a varsity lacrosse match was about to break out.
It was a typical day on any of Petaluma’s three high school campuses. Even as late-winter rains cloud spring sports schedules, young athletes continue to make the best of the situation as they determinedly continue for a whirlwind end to the school year.
Between now and the end of May, student/athletes will find time for big games, championship games and playoffs, even as they prepare for mid-terms, college-qualifying examinations, senior projects, class projects and field trips.
We are living in a hectic, complicated and speed-oriented world that can too often be overwhelming for adults, let alone young adults who must balance so many things in their life, even as they prepare for an uncertain future.
For many, sports are a respite from the reality of the world swirling around them. On a diamond, in a gym or on a field they can focus on something they truly love and, for a few precious minutes or hours, forget about the upcoming test or SAT preparation. For a few, sports bring the added pressure of being good enough for an athletic scholarship or acceptance to a chosen college.
For all, sports are an added draw on an already short supply of time. You can sing all you want to about the lazy, hazy days of summer, the spring leading up to those days are hectic and often chaotic. Sports are both a respite from and a contributor to those days that we adults mistakenly remember as “the best days of our lives.”
A tip of the cap to the young adults who manage their time, energy and enthusiasm through another exciting spring.
One other thought — If you ever have the feeling there is nothing for kids to do in Petaluma, stroll through any high school campus any weekday afternoon around 3 p.m.
(Contact John Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org)