Brian Hamilton: A few things to keep in mind … |

Brian Hamilton: A few things to keep in mind …

Ah, graduation day … so many cards, so many quotes …

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“Life is anything that dies when you stomp on it.”

– Dave Barry

OK, so I didn’t spot that last one on the fold of a Hallmark, yet with so many encouraging and enlightening words already available to our graduating class members – and being absolutely positive I won’t be invited to deliver an actual commencement speech anytime soon – I’ve decided to instead to offer a few words to next fall’s seniors-to-be:

Get back to work!

So often as we watch the cap-and-gown clad members of our community celebrate the end of high school and the beginning of the rest of their lives, we think back to our own graduation day. (And, despite those who might have thought otherwise after reading this here column over the years, yours truly also once turned the tassle.)

Upon my own graduation, I couldn’t help but think of another famous quotation as my class filed out of the school gymnasium with diplomas in hand.

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty …”

Of course, then I got to college and learned – among other things – that being independent of the parental units wasn’t exactly what Dr. King had in mind.

I also learned how much more I should have studied while I had the opportunity to do so on the state’s dime. Taking care of some of those college credit hours before leaving home could have saved some serious cash in keeping the student loan debt in check.

And, hitting the books harder in high school also would have helped a lot in preparing for life after athletics – an end which the Class of 2008 athletes should realize will actually come some day.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, there are more than 7 million high-school athletes. And only about 1.2 percent of them will receive athletic scholarships to NCAA Division I or Division II colleges.

Think about that for a second.

Not to crush anyone’s hopes, but nearly 99 percent of you playing ball next school year will not land that athletic scholarship you’ve been dreaming of ever since you began lacing ’em up.

Think about that the next time a parent or teacher reminds you to hit the books. After all, as those of you who attended scholarship nights around the county this week could attest, there were plenty more awards of the academic variety being handed out than those of the athletic type.

And, by the way, if you happen to be one of the elite chasing an athletic scholarship, you’d better have your transcript in order if the recruiters do come calling. In ever-increasing competition for sports scholarships, grade-point averages certainly count as much – if not more – than you’re ability to score on the floor or on the field.

But even while you hit the weight room, the track – and, with hope, the library -this summer, preparing for your own senior year and what may follow, don’t lose sight of the fun along the way.

Think about that 1.2 percent the next time a coach encourages you to focus solely on playing the sport he or she coaches.

You should enjoy every opportunity you have to play the game – or games – of your own choice. For someone to try and make that decision for you, by pressuring you with promises of playing time or the lack thereof, is simply wrong.

For the vast majority of us, our competitive athletic careers will be contained to our high school campuses.

That means those four years – and for you juniors, the next 12 months – are likely all you’ve got in the world of organized sports.

Make the most of them – on and off the field.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius

“The world is full of strange phenomena that cannot be explained by the laws of logic or science. Dennis Rodman is only one example.” – Dave Barry.


Brian Hamilton, a 1990 graduate of Northfield High School (Wabash, Ind.), is sports editor at The Union and genuinely misses Dave Barry’s weekly offerings. Contact him via e-mail at or by phone at 477-4240.

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