While last Friday evening, March 6, did not exactly feel like spring as I covered local high school soccer matches, my mind did think about just how many offerings our local schools have this time of year.

From baseball to soccer to track to tennis to golf, the spring sports season has plenty for student-athletes to be involved in. It’s tough on local sportswriters, of course, but it’s beneficial for young people to have such a selection of events to be a part of.

Part of the learning process, I’ve always believed, is going beyond the classroom setting. For many that includes sports. Back during my high school days (longer ago than I care to admit), I enjoyed sports. I was a member of my high school basketball team for four seasons, and while I was certainly nowhere near the best player on the team it benefited me to be a part of it.

It went beyond the physical requirements (which I could certainly use some of today) but it also meant learning the demands of being at practice every day and meeting the schedule requirements of being on time for game departures. It simply extended the educational learning process.

Being involved in high school sports helps teach a young person about responsibility. With the right guidance, lessons learned from sports can stay with a person for the rest of their lives.

Of course, a student doesn’t necessarily have to be involved in sports to get the benefit of beyond the classroom involvement. There are a ton of other groups and clubs which are also beneficial. For me, 4-H was such an organization. Many students are involved in literary or band. There are many groups today which didn’t exist when I was in school.

What’s always gratifying to see is when the parents of a young person are there to show their support at games. It was evident in recent days at I ventured to local events.

It’s not always as easy as one might think for parents to be at games today. Often both parents have to work and with the early start times for many games getting to the field can be tough. Yet more often than not you see parents there before the first pitch is thrown or before the action begins.

It seems parents also understand what being involved means for their children as well. I was fortunate to have that parental support when I was growing up. I’m not sure my parents ever missed a basketball game I was at. The same was true for my brother when he played.

Being a part of a team also helps young people in their socialization. Friendships are formed when you are part of a team and those friendships often last well beyond high school. I think back even to my recreation baseball days and how those friendships still remain today. It’s just something about a bond that is formed when you compete on a field as part of the same team.

It certainly takes dedication to be part of a high school varsity athletic team, probably a great deal more than those who have never done it realize. Yet the impact it can have on you is something that can be just as important as anything you learn from a book in a classroom.

It’s probably why school systems invest so many resources into them. When school budgets get tight often times people look at athletics as a place to cut. However, that would always be a mistake. The lessons taught are too valuable and too important for our young people.

We’ve got several months ahead of us in terms of spring sports. I look forward to helping chronicle them each week all the while remembering just how vital they are. It will also be nice when spring sports will actually feel like spring.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former sports editor for the Barrow News-Journal. He welcomes feedback about this column at pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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