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Season may be over, but the game remains

As baseball season comes to an end for local schools, senior players find themselves in a high school uniform for the final time, and many thoughts race through a player’s head as he potentially takes the field for the final time.
As these thoughts flood the mind, every detail of the game stands out to the individual players. Every hit, every catch, every noise and every smell are held in thought and remembrance.
Baseball life started long ago for many of these players. From tee-ball to high school, the baseball diamond has been a vital part of their life.
For most, life as a player ends as they take the field for the final time in high school. A select few move on to college baseball careers, and some may find a place in the coaching field. But for most, the game ends with a final step onto the field.
It is truly unique how a simple game can play such a major factor in someone’s life.
For me, hockey has always had a special place within my heart. I have been consumed with the sport for a number of years. Being a hockey player is more than a love of the game, it is a way of life.
The physical and mental aspects of the sport, which is played at a very high speed with razor blades tied to your feet, appealed to me from an early age. In hockey, much like in football, your body is your weapon.
Every person has a job on the ice, and it is your personal duty to make sure that your job is completed.
My role has always been to provide physical play. Having a bigger body, I have always been looked to on the ice as a ‘heavy hitter.’ I have, for as long as I can remember, been tasked with the job of creating a barrier to the opposing puck carrier.
That task usually involves laying a huge hit on another player, and over time that physical aspect of the game has taken a toll on my body. I have suffered concussions, broken bones and countless other bumps, bruises and injuries.
I have also scored game-winning goals and been able to find myself playing in arenas packed with people.
Now, as age, family and professional goals catch up with me, I find myself, much like the high school senior, at a crossroads. The time has come when I find myself in the final moments as a player of the game that I love. After many years of playing, I have decided that it is time to retire my skates and focus on what God is leading me to do instead.
As the high school senior takes the diamond for the final time this year, I share these feelings with them. There is a broken road of feelings such as sadness, excitement, joy, thankfulness and fear that overwhelms the mind.
The locker room moments, where relationships between teammates are developed, will perhaps be the most missed moments. It is intriguing how a small room can build lifelong friendships and moments that last a lifetime.
That is what I am going to miss most.
Seniors, as you take the diamond for the final time, know that God has a plan for you. The game is not over, and life will continue.
Cherish the moments that have been made and grasp the lessons that the game has helped develop in you personally. When times get tough, look back to the lessons that were learned from coaches and from tough games, and push through.
Soon you will realize that although the season is over, the game you are leaving behind, as well as the friendships formed and the memories, will remain a major part of yourself.