Serving Franklin County, WA

Hard work ahead

A couple of months ago I was asked by several eighth-grade boys that I had the opportunity to coach the last two falls and winters if I would give the promotion address for their class. These are 14 year olds, so I told them that if they were serious I would certainly do it.

Well, it turns out they were serious.

I also had the opportunity to substitute teach for these classes when they were in sixth and seventh grades, so I got to know most of the girls, as well. I have to tell you that it is an honor to be asked because it is important not only for these kids but also their parents as well as the faculty and administration.

When giving the speech, the first thing that I noticed is just how many people that I had attended school with in the late 1960s and 1970. Two of my classmates also were part of my eigth-grade promotion class in 1966. So, I guess that the pressure was on me to not only impress these young students but also the grandparents that were my age.

Now, once it was verified that I would be the speaker I started thinking about what I would need to talk about. If it was a graduation then you would talk about the future and what to focus on, of course. But these kids have four years before high school graduation. One of the things I focused on is the difference in opportunities afforded this group of young people as opposed to what my classmates and I could get excited about.

Title IX was still seven years in our future, so our female classmates would only get to play tennis and GAA. But the beginnings of FFA are now in seventh-grade whereas it was ninth-grade for us and girls didn’t get a chance to be a part of FFA until the fall of 1972 — two years after we graduated.

I told them that there are other organizations that may be beneficial for some others. But the most important thing is to get involved in high school and enjoy it.

Nothing can be worse than to not join any extra-curricular organizations or sports and complain about boredom.

I can honestly say that being in FFA and sports helped me to be able to talk in front of others without being nervous. Sure, the first few times were a challenge but the more you face an audience of you peers the better off I was.

There were a few things that as an older gentleman I wanted everyone to understand and that was to not get wrapped up in not being able to wait for something to happen.

I can’t wait until and then when it finally gets there it may not be as great as one was hoping for. It is really important to let things happen and enjoy the moment. A person will waste less time on what might be and more time on the process.

Usually, a person will spend a lot of time trying to let others know how much fun they are having and forget to have a good time. It’s probably not such a good thing.

I tried to leave these kids with a few words of wisdom and hopefully motivators.

The most important one is: If you always tell the truth you will never have to change your story. Another is: The world isn’t going to stop and wait for you. Lead, follow or get the heck out of the way.

Life isn’t always fair but being prepared for the good or the bad will be an advantage for anyone of these students either way.

The world today is a challenge and to achieve a high school diploma will take a lot of hard work. But these kids will also need to do their best to also have some fun and get involved with extra-curricular activities. The opportunities can lead them a long way in life if they do it right.

— Dale Anderson is a sports columnist from Ritzville. To contact him, email [email protected].


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