The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Power: College shouldn’t stop retired high school athletes’ games

As I was biking along Wells Street Saturday, I thought of it as the “yellow-shirt road” — a take off the yellow brick road from the Wizard of Oz. Students wearing yellow shirts and various Marquette apparel dominated the sidewalks. They were off to see the wizard … I mean, the Marquette men’s basketball team in its first game of the season.

This fantastical scene not only reminded me of the Wizard of Oz, but of the start of my high school hockey season. Around this time of year, my teammates and I would hang our hockey bags on our shoulders and lug them down the ice-covered road from our parked cars into the arena.

Then, we would suit up into our  hockey equipment, stiff from sitting in our bags since summer training, and get on the ice to shoot pucks before the coaches joined us.

It was tryout season, and like three of the four main characters from the Wizard of Oz, this was the time of year we had to find and harness our courage, hearts and brains. It was the time of year to tap our red slippers and return home to our ice arena.

Although it has been two years since I played in high school, it’s weird to be sitting back while others are taking the ice.

There are many Marquette students like me who were high school athletes, but no longer play in college. Some stop playing because sports fees are too expensive. Maybe they burned out in high school and need to try new things. Others are not good enough to step up to the collegiate level.

I stopped playing because there’s no women’s hockey at Marquette. I could have gone to a different school and played, but I knew hockey would’ve taken priority over my studies.

Since choosing academics over athletics, I have gone through hockey-withdrawal. It still surfaces every so often, especially as the campus atmosphere fills with Marquette basketball pride.

Hockey made my heart beat. It first came into my life when I was 6 years old. My dad and I used to skate at a nearby outdoor rink together, and only left when the lights turned off. Sometimes our dog would come along and we’d race for the puck.

It was during these nights, gliding around the rink in the cold, frigid air with tender, rosy cheeks, that I most felt free and at peace. It was like flying.

I miss this irreplaceable feeling. Although I love academics, it could never fill the gap in my life that hockey once filled.

Other retired athletes still crave the team community high school sports gave them. My classmate, Kevin Griffin, a sophomore in the College of Communication, misses his athletic identity and the friendships he had with his high school cross-country running and track teammates. In our conversation over Facebook, he said, “I loved being known as someone in high school who was a part of something: a team.”

Whatever it is that you miss about high school athletics — teammates, fans, exercise, bus rides to games, adrenaline — don’t let it go.

Think of your teachers as coaches and homework as practice.

Get out and toss the baseball around.

Try out for a club sport. Even if your high school sport is not offered here, college is a great time to explore. I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team this fall. Although it wasn’t as fast-paced as hockey, it was a lot of fun playing with a team and jumping for long tosses.

Create a team if that’s what you miss. Get friends together and play intramural sports. If you go home for Thanksgiving or winter break, call up old teammates and spend your free time together as you would have in high school.

Keep your inner athlete alive.

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    JoanneNov 11, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Wayne Gretzky would agree and tell you to find a local women’s hockey team and play when u can…even if only once or could really fill that longing and once again bring the feeling of freedom and rosy cheeks.