Over the past few issues of the Transcript Bulletin, and in the next few as well, there have been stories profiling local student-athletes who have signed national Letters-of-Intent to play their chosen sport in college.
While these signings are certainly a reward for their athletic talents, they also represent an example of the benefits high-school sports can provide.
Now, not everybody is going to get a scholarship from playing a sport in high school, just like not everybody is going to get a scholarship based on their academic achievement. But the existence of high school sports provides yet another pathway for our youth to continue their education beyond age 18 should they so desire.
Just like an academic scholarship requires hours upon hours of hard work — late-night study sessions, extra-credit assignments, involvement in extra-curricular activities — athletic scholarships do, as well. Take the story of Sienna Riggle that appeared in Tuesday’s edition, for example. When Riggle first joined the Stallions as a freshman, she had a long way to go to become a solid contributor to her high school team. But through her dedication to the game, including countless hours in the gym playing basketball during the summer, she not only became a contributor to Stansbury’s success, but she earned herself an opportunity to play in college.
And those are the biggest lessons we learn from high-school sports. Those who work hardest reap the rewards. Typically, the most successful teams in terms of wins and losses are the ones with the best work ethic. Those who try to get by on talent alone usually don’t end up being as successful.
The athletes that I’ve already written about in this series of college-signing stories, as well as those I’ll write about in the days to come, are a shining example of what hard work will do. There’s no doubt that all of them are extremely talented athletes — and solid students, as well, given the colleges’ willingness to spend thousands of dollars to bring them to their campuses. But even though they’re good, they still worked hard to get even better. They never rested on their laurels, thinking that good was good enough.
They’ve also left a legacy, showing others who will follow in their footsteps that hard work does, indeed, pay off.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. Even though he wasn’t an athlete, high-school sports paved the way for him to earn a college scholarship as well (as SUU’s football equipment manager). Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.