Consider all the things Utah Valley high school athletes have to deal with:
Games, practice, travel, club teams, school, social life, technology, family, community and religious responsibilities, etc.
With those types of demands on their time, perhaps one of the greatest things they could get for the holiday weekend was a break.
Hopefully they enjoyed it.
But all too soon it will be back to work as they strive to be as successful as possible in their chosen sports.
They have big goals, big plans, big dreams. Visions of wins and titles and scholarships and — for some — pro careers are still vibrant.
But is what they think they want what they really want?
With Christmas now in the rearview mirror, it’s likely that many athletes have new gear and new apparel.
But here is a list of the most important things that they should be getting as a high school athlete:
Sports is one of the greatest ways to learn the value of hope, since every effort is an example of it. Practices, workouts, repetitions, every action is about hoping for something good to happen.
One of the best things all athletes can take from that is that when they put in the effort, they have the right to hope for good results. Just like in sports, it isn’t guaranteed — but it’s just a reason to work harder and hope again.
Even in sports like golf and wrestling where the action is dependent on the individual, there is nothing like understanding the value of a team.
Throughout all aspects of life, the capability to step into a group and coordinate various talents and skillsets is tremendously valuable. Those who grasp it through high school sports have a big advantage.
Life is full of distractions. Those who want to achieve have to understand that and lock in on what is truly important for them.
For many athletes, they understand that they need to work hard to improve if they want to be at their best. They sacrifice other things that aren’t as important to gain that.
It is a great gift to know how to give up something good to get something better.
All athletes know at some level that there are things that aren’t in their control, things like the weather, the officiating, coaching decisions, observer reactions and opponent strategy.
The best approach is learning to control what you can control instead of getting caught up in things that you can’t control. The most successful athletes come to realize this and turn it into an advantage.
Enjoying the moment
Whether it’s a monumental win or a disappointing loss, time moves on. The agonies and ecstasies pass, sometimes in a surprisingly short period.
That’s why athletes have to savor the journey. Winning or losing is the potential result but the journey — playing the game — has the greatest value.
This is the greatest lesson of all in high school sports. This isn’t referring to romantic love; it is all about human love.
Athletes rely on each other, rely on their coaches, rely on their trainers and medical professionals. In that reliance is constructed the seeds of human connection.
When they work together, when they cheer each other on, when they push each other to be better, when they spend the time to improve physically, mentally and emotionally, that is when they show the love that they have for each other.
At their deepest level, the holidays are all about love. It is a time to treasure those who are the most important.
Hopefully all athletes realize and treasure the value of love they share with teammates, mentors and supporters.