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Make your mistakes, just remember who’s watching

There are many times during our lives we ponder the previous years of our lives. For myself, I am constantly thinking back to past experiences and the lessons I have learned from the many mistakes I have made during my life.
One thing is for absolute certain, our world is changing. When I think back to my high school years at Escambia County High School, 15 years ago, the changes are blatant.
As many of you will recall, the paddle was the ultimate deterrent in bad behavior during that time. During elementary school, the ruler was my ultimate enemy. It was amazing how much pain a wooden ruler to the hand could cause.
One thing is for sure, it made me think twice about making the same mistakes again. Those are now things of the past and the world has evolved into something much different.
The one thing that doesn’t change, is that we learn from mistakes.
Mistakes are the one thing we are absolutely guaranteed to make in this world.
I, for one, am not happy about many of the mistakes I have made over the course of my short lifetime.
I often reflect on mistakes and things I should have completed or accomplished sooner.
There have been numerous opportunities I passed up that could have helped open doors for me during my hockey career. I had the opportunity to gain a hockey scholarship to the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Instead, I passed it up for a ticket to Parris Island, S.C. with the United States Marine Corps.
Instead of making it to Parris Island, I woke up in a hospital bed with a plate and 13 screws embedded in my left shoulder.
Sure, I made an appearance for a short time in the professional hockey scene. So short in fact that my name has never really gone into the books.
The lesson of this story, however, is that I set goals, overcame obstacles and fulfilled the dreams I had for myself.
As the years go by, leave no regrets. Mistakes will be made; hard lessons will be learned.
Despite the mistakes and hard lessons, be a positive role model, on and off the field.
People look up to high school athletes more than you may think, especially children. Children long to be you one day, and they daydream about putting on a high school football uniform and taking the field for themselves.
Be careful about the choices you make. Be respectful, play with passion and always remember that your actions are under a microscope. Foul language, fighting when it’s not part of the game, and making obscene gestures are just a few of the mistakes that players sometimes make when on the field.
As the game gets passionate and competitive, these things happen. Try to be the player, however, that thinks before he or she acts. Be a role-model.
The actions that you take on and off the field carry over to the minds of youth.
If an obscene gesture or nasty play is committed, it might instill the wrong idea to youth.
Take brands that players have for example. Branding for individual players catch on like wildfire, and the same goes for the image they project.
Always remember the players you looked up to as you were growing up and remember that today’s youth is looking at you as a role-model.
Mistakes and bad decisions will always be made. It’s how you respond and react to them that makes a difference.