Often we look at teens these days and shake our heads.
It’s just hard for us to identify with some of the things around now that weren’t here when we were their ages.
We don’t understand the attraction of the music they are listening to (and boy have we heard some doozies prior to football games this season).
We don’t understand the attraction to some of the things online and on social media (three times in recent weeks we’ve seen young ladies dancing in front of their cell phones for TikTok videos).
We wonder where they learn about the real world many of them are about to enter.
Let’s face it — our children are partially made for us to worry about.
But every now and then, they surprise us and at least calm our fears — at least for the moment.
Over the past couple of weeks the athletic season has ended for several teams at our area high schools. With hopes of state championships dancing in their dreams, many of our athletes have seen it all come to an end.
And that’s a reality that hurts. For most of these athletes, it was the final time to put on the school uniform and take to the field in competition with teammates, many who they’ve teamed with since they were barely old enough to tie their own shoes.
And when a season ends, there’s tears and a sobering reality that they may never again do something that has been a part of their lives for many sweat-filled days on the practice fields and the gyms that those who cheer for them on game days never know about.
Some people handle it better than others. Some are just overwhelmed with the sense of loss.
And some, rise above to restore your faith in the younger generation.
Last week, I covered two of our area football teams who suffered losses in the opening round of the Region 4C playoffs. On back-to-back days, I got to see the reactions of how James Wood and Handley players handled the disappointment of having their seasons end several games earlier than they had hoped.
Yes, these tough guys struggled to handle the emotions as they met with their coaches on the field for the final time. You could hear plenty of sniffles and see the tears pour out.
But something else emerged after those games — gratitude and love.
After James Wood’s loss at Heritage last Friday, I watched as Colonels center Ronan Solosky used his only good arm (his other was in a sling after suffering an injury in the first half) to shake his coaches’ hands and thank them for all that they had done to help him over his career.
Running back Wes Brondos did the same thing. As I pulled him aside for an interview as I finished up with head coach Ryan Morgan, Brondos went and hugged his coach. “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me,” Brondos told Morgan, who told Brondos how much he valued the senior.
Brondos would go on to say how much he loved his teammates and how much he hoped he kept in touch with them in the years to come.
It was much the same way on Saturday afternoon at Handley after a tough loss against Loudoun County.
Several players grabbed coaches afterwards to offer thanks.
Junior Rodd’ney Davenport, never one short on words, couldn’t speak when asked about what it was like to play with Judges senior standout Stephen Daley. All he could do was just go over and give Daley a hug and say, “I’m sorry man.”
Daley, who knows he will be playing next fall after having committed to Division I Kent State, talked about how his teammates and coaches helped him achieve his football dreams. The previous day Daley had been named the Class 4 Northwestern District’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
“My teammates helped me and my coaches believed in me all four years,” Daley said. “Every accolade I get I owe to them. I’m going to miss them a lot.”
We’re sure it was similar in other places and for other sports, too.
Sports teaches a lot of life lessons and you can’t think of many better than gratitude, thanks and love of others.
And to this old codger, that’s something that would be welcome in this world today and in the future.