I hate when I don’t have any high school football to cover.

For months and months, I anticipate the season like a kid waiting for his birthday. Then, in what feels like the blink of an eye, the schedule is complete, and another season is in the books.

It almost doesn’t seem fair. I wish the season was longer, but I would never be satisfied.

I love the game of football, and I hate to see it go.

Sure, college and professional teams are still in the midst of their seasons, and the high school playoffs are just getting rolling, but it is not the same unless I’m sitting in the pressbox.

I never played football at any serious level. I don’t know what it is like for players and coaches to see their seasons come to an end, but I can only assume there is a similar emptiness inside.

I feel for every kid once the final buzzer sounds, especially all of the seniors. For years, they dedicate themselves to being the best players and teammates possible. They consume the sport continually, and their passion is palatable.

One of my least favorite aspects of my job is talking to players after their seasons and possibly their careers have just ended. Sometimes the reality of the moment overwhelms their emotions. Other times, they are in a state of shock and numbness, but they are almost always melancholy at best.

To a lesser degree, I know the feeling.

While their roller coaster ride might be ending, the beauty of high school sports from my perspective is they never truly stop.

Upon the conclusion of the area volleyball and football teams’ seasons, my attention immediately turns to other sports like basketball. Luckily, I have the advantage of covering every sport. Some are not as fortunate.

Many athletes from Copperas Cove and countless other schools will never be involved in another team sport at such a high level. Countless kids completed their playing careers and will have to find a way to cope without the love-hate relationship that comes with being an athlete.

There will not be any more early-morning practices to set their alarm clocks for. Working out becomes a self-induced activity instead of being a daily requirement. The long bus rides and even longer film study sessions are things of the past.

Worst of all, the locker room is closed.

Lets face it, football and sports in general are not just about what happens on the field or court. The true magic happens behind closed doors, where relationships are built through sweat and dedication to a common goal.

Outsiders see the final product, but there is so much more.

My heart goes out to every kid once they play their final game. I hate when the season comes to an end, and I know they must despise it, but time goes on for all of us.

Believe it or not, there is life after football. It might not have the same excitement as playing on Friday nights. It might not require the same level of commitment or impose the same level of pain as offseason workouts. It might not deliver the same satisfaction as a one-sided victory, but it should be embraced nonetheless.

Sports like football can shape kids’ lives in ways that will remain with them all the way into adulthood. It is amazing to see just how impactful such a simple game can be, and every year, I hate to see it go away.

I just hope that every player enjoys the experience to the absolute fullest, embraces every up and every down, and holds all the memories someplace special.

I know I have, and I can’t wait to do it all again next season.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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