Miller: A Senior Night Tradition
As seasons draw to a close for many of our area schools, some of my favorite moments to catch on camera are the schools’ time-honored traditions of taking a moment to recognize senior athletes and parents.
It may seem like just another pre-game ceremony to give polite applause to people you may or may not know, but it’s the culmination of weeks, months and years of dedication.
For the senior athletes, it’s likely one of, if not THE, last home game for them. It springs up on you quickly. I honestly barely remember my senior night from my time in high school… my only recollection being that we earned a (rare) victory in the game that followed, and that my senior teammates and I stopped to kiss the turf on the way out of the stadium for the final time (not the most sanitary thing I ever did in my life, but it was a poignant moment). For many of these athletes this could be one of the final organized sporting events that they’ll participate in, and oftentimes that realization doesn’t sink in until much later. To all those senior athletes out there, savor these waning few moments on the court, field, etc. Take a minute to look around, and appreciate what has been provided to you by your community; the gym to play and practice in, the uniform on your back, the coaches and officials, bus drivers, volunteers and custodians that help make the games possible, and most importantly, the fans that show up to watch you play, and cheer you on through thick and thin.
Many of those fans are the parents… so much so that on many “Parents’ Nights” there are often occasions where there aren’t many people left in the stands to cheer the parents as they march out onto the playing surface with their children. But they deserve the most lusty of cheers, because without the dedication and commitment of parents (and in some instances grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings among others), our student athletes would not have the ability to play the games that they’ve come to love. Oftentimes students present their parents with flowers as a thank you at these ceremonies, and I can’t imagine anything smelling sweeter to a Mother or a Father than the heartfelt thanks of their child. I even today am still discovering new depths of my appreciation for the sacrifices of my parents to make my sporting dreams a reality when I was younger.
We play these games to find a winner, to be sure… but more importantly, we should be playing these games to find a sense of community, strength in the face of hardship, and joy when we overcome those obstacles. Our efforts should be an honor and a tribute to our parents and family, whether they are in the stands, or hearing a recap on the phone, or (fingers crossed) watching the highlights on “Sports Overtime.”
So, to all those seniors out there… THANK YOU for your devotion to your school, your team, your community and your teammates! Your efforts may not have made it into our highlights on any given night, but they were definitely worth your time and energy.
And to the parents, enjoy your flower, and the photos and hugs with your kids. Just know that we’re all cheering for you, and thanking you for giving us an opportunity to enjoy high school sports.