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Nearly 400 years ago on a cold, overcast Thursday in late November, the Plymouth Colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared a Fall feast and celebration that is now recognized as the first Thanksgiving. No, it wasn’t the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. That tradition started a year or two later. And there were no parades or floats, but the Colonists and Indians celebrated a day of “giving thanks” and created a holiday tradition.
In 1863 (242 years later), President Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. So, Thanksgiving Day has officially been around for 154 years, although it actually started nearly 250 years before that. OK, there’s your American History lesson for the day, unfortunately I doubt it will be on the SAT.
Speaking of American History and the SAT, it’s hard to believe, but the school year is almost half way over. The Thanksgiving holiday is a welcomed mental and physical break for everyone, especially the high school student-athlete. So, eat some turkey, watch some football, spend some time with family, but don’t forget to recognize everything you have to be thankful for.
First and foremost, you should be thankful for family, friends and the opportunity to live in the greatest country in the world. After that, if you’re a student-athlete you should be thankful for all the people who coach you, encourage you, and support you every day. Let’s talk about who those people are and why you should take a few minutes this week to thank them.
I remember every teammate on every team I ever played for. However, for some reason I don’t even remember the name of the skinny, red-headed kid down the street who we played football with every weekend. I think it was Jim, or maybe it was Tim. At any rate, in my opinion, the reason I remember my teammates is because being teammates creates a special bond between players. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of participating in athletics are the relationships you develop with your teammates. Your teammates are likely to become your life-long friends. They are there for you when you succeed and when you fail. Without the support of your teammates the difficult times would be harder, and the good times wouldn’t be as good.
Don’t wait until after your teammates go on to college to thank them for being there. If you do, you might not have the opportunity to show your appreciation. Take the time this week to tell your teammates how much you appreciate them!
To me, teachers have one of the most difficult and important jobs in the country. Most teachers go overboard to help their students, and, whether you believe it or not, they want to see you succeed. Your high school teachers are preparing you for college and that doesn’t always mean they need to be your friend. They need to be your teacher. Don’t ever forget that you have to qualify for admission at any college you want to play for. So, next Monday, take the time to tell at least one of your teachers how thankful you are for everything they do.
Coaches are teachers, advocates, role models and mentors. I truly believe that many coaches don’t realize the impact they have on the lives of the athletes they coach. Everyone remembers their high school coach and many student-athletes stay connected with them for life. What a great result for the coach and the athlete! If you have a coach who is willing to take the time to help you improve, then you need to take the time to say, “thank you” this Thanksgiving, and every chance you get!
Your parents are your biggest fans. They will always be in your corner and you can always count on their support. Also, they are your parents, so you are stuck with them for life! Trust me on this, as you get older, your parents will get smarter. Much of the advice they are giving you now will start to make sense in a few years.
At our house, we have a Thanksgiving tradition. Before dinner we all mention something we are thankful for. If you have the same tradition at your house, consider thanking your parents for all they do. If you don’t have that tradition, tell them while you are helping with the dishes!
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the true meaning of Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all the things you have to be thankful for. In my opinion, if you are lucky enough to live in this country, then you have plenty to be thankful for. Everything else is a bonus.