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The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

Life after sports isn’t all that bad

All throughout my life I’ve always loved sports. Something about competition got my blood going.

When I was a little kid, my dad would take every opportunity he had to bring me to the Joe Louis Arena to watch our beloved Red Wings bash the other team into submission. My dad would talk about former Wings as if they were gods that descended from the sky. We were so fortunate to have them in Detroit. And that’s how I saw them too.

Like most kids, I spent my elementary days playing whatever sport the local recreational center offered.

Eventually, I got decent enough at soccer to join a club team and spent the occasional weekend off in Indiana or Ohio competing in tournaments. I was even fortunate enough to make it all the way to state finals as part of the men’s varsity soccer team my senior year of high school.

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But after senior year, that was it. About 10 years of devoting so much time to soccer and it was over. When the whistle sounded and my final soccer match was finished, I couldn’t help but wonder:

Was all this for nothing?

At the time, it did seem like sort of a waste since I wasn’t going to play in college, and I didn’t have any opportunities other than that. The only tangible things I had left over from soccer were boxes of smelly old uniforms, and my cleats which I deemed useless since I had no reason to wear them anymore.

As time went on, and I grew a bit wiser, I started to feel less bitter about the whole thing. Just because it never took me anywhere, doesn’t mean I didn’t benefit from it.

There are many valuable lessons I may not have learned if not for participating in organized sports. Soccer taught me to always be a solid teammate, to be humble as a victor and gracious as a loser, to be fearless in the face of adversity and most importantly, never, ever, give up hope because you never know when an upset is going to happen.

Even though my days as an athlete are over, it doesn’t mean I’ve lost my identity. In fact, being a former athlete has helped me better understand what I want to do in the future. Since coming to Northern, I’ve been happy to be able to apply my interest in sports to my studies and hope I can continue to be involved with sports in my future career.

It’s never easy giving up something you love. I’ll never forget the feeling of being underneath the lights and looking out into the bleachers and watching all the faces. Some would cheer me on, others would try to rattle me. Either way, it didn’t matter. When I was on the field I couldn’t be bothered by a thing.

Even though I may never experience that feeling again, I’ll always have the memories and the friends I made along the way. Those are all the trophies I really need.

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