It All Matters to Some

It is amazing how your expectations as a parent change as your children get older. I know for me I was in a huge hurry for my first born to start walking, talking, running and playing ball. Next week I will be buying him a high school letterman's jacket. In three short years, he will be handing his mama a flower on senior day. It will all be over before I know it.

Just as our family completes our first year of cheering for OUR high school team, four families we have come to know are closing the book on their children's high school careers today.

We held senior day on Tuesday. Four Buccaneer baseball players wore the home whites one final time. They watched their senior day victory hopes die as a 7th inning three run homer put the visitors up 10-7.

Our senior trio went quietly in the bottom half of that inning.

As I handed those out going seniors their parting gifts, I really wanted them to understand that 18 turns 35 a lot quicker than you think.

Mortgage payments and day care replace hitting lessons and personal trainers when your not looking it seems.

Later today those same four players will make their final contributions to the Broadmoor/Tara rivalry.

It is a hotly contested rivalry that at one time Chicago Cubs' starting shortstop Ryan Theriot took part in.

This season there will be no post season plans for either team. After a long and frustrating season, the Bucs of Broadmoor are left with the chance to beat Tara and assure the Trojans of a losing season.

The players I have come to know certainly deserve better than to simply play the spoiler role in a game that means very little to the rest of the state. I am not even sure the box score will make the paper.

For these young men suiting up in a high school uniform for the final time the game means everything. The chances of any of these guys playing in an organized competitive baseball game are pretty slim outside of the summer leagues that start in a few weeeks.

Larry is one of only two seniors who played last season. He was a first year starter this year, his fourth year in the program.

Larry played in eight of nine field positions in his high school career. Two weeks back he walked the lead off batter and then balked him to second in the only pitching appearance of his life.

He was offered the chance to catch the next game, so he could scratch the last position off of his list. He chickened out in pre-game warm-ups.

In order for Larry to play baseball he has to depend on teammates to bring him home once practice is over.

If he is unable to catch a ride or come up with bus fare, he walks home. To say he walks home would be to put it mildly. The walk home is just over six miles and some of the neighborhoods aren't always pedestrian friendly.

Despite the fact that Larry's family rarely comes to a game, he has given all he has for this program.

He stood with another player's grandparents in his senior day picture.

Matt lives with his grandparents. I am not sure why he doesn't live with his parents. They came to a game last weekend for the first time in the year I have been around him.

He told the Baton Rouge Advocate in his senior profile that he planned to attend whatever college offered him a baseball scholarship.

As we approach graduation day, no offers have arrived.

This was to be his big year, but a one and whatever record in district did little to help his cause.

He was the only returning senior starter and it certainly showed in the team's won/loss record. Despite it all, he keeps showing up and telling everybody to get focused.

For Branson the season went like a lot of the others. An injury ended his season each of the previous three years. Two of those seasons he never even set foot on the diamond.

Despite sitting out several games due to injuries again this year, he started enough games to earn a varsity letter.

He sat out senior day and he will be cheering his teammates on from the dugout again today as he is sidelined with yet another injury.

Myron, a first year senior, joined the team after basketball to help provide some leadership.

He belted a two run homer earlier this year, the first of his life.

I can only imagine what he could have been had he played all four years.

Each of these young men started the season with hopes, dreams and expectations.

The chances of their names appearing on an All-District list are not very good, but that does not diminish their sacrifice as student athletes.

While it is difficult for many of them to accept, the ride is coming to an end. College scouts aren't calling and that is okay.

In today's era of instant media, 24 hour highlight shows and superstar twitter accounts, I believe we have lost something.

It seems like in the eyes of many, you are not a success if you aren't a college prospect. I do not subscribe to that notion.

What happened to simply being a good high school player and representing your community with pride?

Are we to label the players who play hard, make their grades and stay out of trouble failures simply because they may not have what college recruiters are looking for?

I know for me my hope for my oldest son is to be able to play high school ball, contribute and enjoy the experience. Anything more than that we will count as a bonus.

There is a Larry, Matt, Branson and Myron at every school in every city in America and most of them will never play in a game that charges admission ever again.

I think about all of these radio talk shows and message board posts that begin with, "He only has offers from....".

I understand how fans evaluate prospects and of course no one is worth having unless you beat somebody for them right?

That being said those small school offers mean everything to the kid who has none.

I am proud to say my son had the chance to play alongside these fine young men this season. We are going to win and win big in the future and I regret they will not be a part of it.

Know this if nothing else. The young men in your community who spend countless hours working hard to improve themselves deserve your respect.

Those who have the talent, character and grades get the chance to move on to the next level. Most high school players will not get that chance and some of them will spend the rest of their lives wondering why.

Before they know it they will be like the rest of us who talk about how good we were way back when.

In the end win or lose, wearing your school colors and representing your family is something special even if you never get a single letter from a college coach.

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