Love the game.
Love the game for the pure joy of accomplishment. Not just the variety present on the game field each Friday night. But the joy that can be found in all the minutes, hours, days, weeks and months it took you just to get to that moment.
Love the game for everything it can teach you about yourself. Because if you are open to embrace its lessons, then the values of focus, commitment, speed and strength can become your mentors for a lifetime.
Love the game for the feeling of belonging to a group endeavoring to do its best. One large extended family born of many other families. A true melting pot of backgrounds, personalities, talents and dreams. Built with purpose and coming together with intention. All yearning to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Love the game for the challenge of working harder than you ever have at something, and then, harder than that. And then, harder still. For it is only the journey that can temper one’s character in preparation for the achievement, success and excellence to follow.
Love the game because it takes all team members to give it life. Whether starter or scout, veteran or rookie, all are important. Each has a role that needs to be filled. Everyone makes a crucial contribution that only they are designed to provide.
Love the game because at its best, the game’s tradition will include your contributions. And this goes far beyond wins and losses, tackles and touchdowns, runs and catches. The game’s tradition depends on your character, courage and commitment and exists because of your effort and perseverance. You are the only ones built to provide those gifts. And that is the foundation of your legacy to the game.
Love the game because you belong to a long line of fine athletes who have loved it also. You may not realize it, but you are connected to all of them. Those that played here before you, in this conference, throughout the state and all across the country. You are even bonded in a similar fashion to all the coaches in this room. All of whom played it, loved it, and still do.
Love the game so much that you will pass on your love of the game to another student-athlete. Someone who has witnessed your dedication, seen your work, shared your challenges, experienced your failures and aspired to achieve in victory.
And then, because of the example you have set, the way you carried out your responsibilities and honored this opportunity, that student-athlete will, because of you**, love the game.
** The passages in bold originated from a quote attributed to “anonymous”. Their effort made a sincere and lasting impression on this author. So much so, I was compelled to add my thoughts to it, and share it here. Whomever you are, “thank you” for loving the game as much as I.