Time to call our own shots

Jake Eisenberg, Sports Editor

Take a minute to conjure up a list of the best athletes of all time; your Michael Jordans, Babe Ruths, and Joe Montanas.  Despite playing different sports, they all have one thing in common: they have retired.  And, if your list included active stars and champions such as LeBron James, Roger Federer, or Lionel Messi, you can be sure that one day, their seasons will be behind them as well.

The waves of players ebb and flow, as rookies flow into the leagues and celebrated veterans wave goodbye.  Even here, at Schreiber, senior athletes have already played their last games in Vikings uniforms, and whether they play one sport or three, the feeling is always the same.   It’s a somber realization that you’ll never play with the same people, in the same place, for the same team, ever again.  But, with that guarantee comes the promising realization that there is more to come in the days and years ahead.  This is when we become truly independent and recognize that it’s time to call our own shots.

Recently, Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement from managing the Manchester United football club after over 26 years at the helm. Two years ago, former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa retired on top of baseball after winning the World Series in 2011. Chipper Jones, former third baseman for the Atlanta Braves, went on what seemed to be a farewell tour after he declared last season would be his finale. This season, all-time saves leader and New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is on a similar trip, honored by teams for his contributions to baseball history and the league. Ray Lewis’s timely announcement of his planned retirement invigorated his Baltimore Ravens team, just as his pre-game dancing did for so many seasons, allowing his final season to culminate in his earning of a second Super Bowl ring.

For the class of 2013, it’s our retirement party.  Come June, many graduating senior athletes will be honored with various athletic achievement awards, and their names will be enshrined on plaques lining the hallway preceding the gym.  From there, the only accomplishment left to pursue for Schreiber graduates is an induction to the Schreiber Athletic Hall of Fame, home to over 100 Schreiber greats, just as an induction to any Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of achievements for all professional sports.

It all begs the question of how the athletes of our generation, whether professional or merely graduating, will be remembered.  What is our legacy? Can it be quantified in conference championships, personal statistics, or the amount of Vikings team apparel you own? Maybe yes, or perhaps no, as the intangibles of the experiences come to light—reminiscing about pasta parties or in-game cheers, inside jokes and friends you made along the way.

While some know when it’s time to lace up for the final time, others have a more difficult time letting go.  Buddy Helms never did, racing until he died of burn complications in 2003 at the age of 87.  A retirement conversation always brings up the name of Brett Favre, the former NFL quarterback who retired and unretired more times between 2006 and 2010 than anyone ever.  Michael Jordan un-retired twice, and even played Minor League baseball in the Chicago White Sox system (between the first and second retirements) before returning to the NBA and eventually calling it quits in 2003, then with the Washington Wizards.  Even so, he still maintains his involvement with basketball as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, just as Favre maintains his place in football as the Offensive Coordinator at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  There are even reports swirling of him rejoining the Green Bay Packers organization in some capacity.

As high school students, we don’t have the luxury of indecision or the choice to stick around—it’s time for us to enter into the collegiate and real worlds whether we like it or not.  Last year, 12 seniors earned the opportunity to continue their careers collegiately in various sports at various levels.  This year, another 19 will prepare to make their mark on the NCAA athletic sphere as well, ranging from playing lacrosse to rowing crew, from Division 1 to those thinking about trying out for a club or intramural team.

Even those who have made their mark off the fields, participating in Schreiber’s multitude of clubs for four years or even just one, must now turn around and say goodbye, whether it was with the Student Council or as the Sports Editor of this very newspaper.

Furthermore, the same nostalgia will be faced when our college days come to an end, the same memories glued into the scrapbooks in our heads, and the same simultaneous feeling of accomplishment and loss.

And so, when we finally do move on and into the real world, it will never be about making new memories to replace the ones we have, but about relishing our new experiences to accompany the times we will cherish forever—always calling our own shots.