At this time of year, most graduated seniors are done with high school both literally and figuratively.
They are ready to move on in life, and rightfully so.
They want to put the past behind them and feverishly run into the future, but the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl allows area football and volleyball players to be a high school athlete one last time, and someday, they will cherish the opportunity.
For the past six years, the Heart of Texas chapter of the FCA has selected standout seniors from the area to participate in the annual football game. Additionally, for the first time, there will also be a volleyball match following the same format with both games taking place Saturday in Waco.
Many of the athletes who participate have collegiate careers in front of them. Some, however, do not, making this a farewell of sorts to a sport they love.
Regardless, it should be an experience they hold near and dear to their hearts.
For those talented enough to continue playing at the next level, life soon will become much more hectic. With the added responsibilities of taking college courses, potentially holding down a part-time job and living on their own for perhaps the first time, athletics can become a chore.
After serving as a lifelong release, exhausting practices, demanding diets and early-morning workouts can become overwhelming, stealing a measure of joy from the sport.
Competition on the court and in the locker room becomes far more serious as overall athletic ability increases across the board. Sometimes scholarships hinge on performance, creating stress and anxiety.
The Victory Bowls offer athletes one final chance to enjoy the game at its purest level.
Although everyone wants to deliver, the games are not about winning or losing. In the end, nobody really cares how many yards someone ran for or the number of aces served up.
The final score is essentially irrelevant, but the experience is far from inconsequential.
In addition to the games, athletes take part in several days of service projects, practices, clinics and simply get to have fun with one another before the competition starts.
Unfortunately, for many, it will serve as their final opportunity to be in an athletic team setting. Whether they go on to play elsewhere or not, a chance like this will never come along again.
It is the last time sports will be completely uncontaminated. It is the last time the scoreboard doesn’t matter, and in a way, it is the last time to be a kid and just play.
Almost everyone, myself included, wanted to be a “grownup” before their time. It is natural to have a desire to mature in life and be compelled to leave childhood behind in favor of creating one’s own path to adulthood.
It is a permanent venture, though, and there is no coming back.
Thanks to the FCA Victory Bowl, however, graduating seniors have one last chance to enjoy a sport they dedicated themselves to for years.
I just truly hope they cherish the opportunity.