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The leaves are dropping, days are getting shorter and the air has a nip to it. And with this annual ritual comes special ceremonies that are taking place at all sporting events around the state. Those ceremonies are called “Senior Nights.” On Thursday, such an event took place at Tyler Consolidated as two wonderful young ladies were honored by their friends, teammates, coaches, fans, parents, and classmates.
As a young athlete, I also was once honored and I vividly recall it being a special time as I met my parents under the basket at SHS and walked to mid-court. However, as Thursday evening progressed, I could not help but see Senior Night through a different set of eyes.
For Ariel Fish and Hannah Casteel, this night signified that the end of a four year career is looming. Four years during which they have played many volleyball matches and lost only a few. In fact, they have never ended a season without playing for a State Title. That is how special they are! But there were other Senior moments on this night. The matches had just begun, when I noticed Mrs. Summers’ face was very red. She indicated to me she was having a “senior moment.” I said, “Good! Isn’t this great??.” But nope, she was having a hot flash. Yep, that was surely an indicator that being a senior certainly has taken on a new meaning for us. Girls, enjoy the rest of your year as high school seniors. Time will pass quickly.
Prior to the match, the underclassmen were hanging “we love our seniors” signs. Oh, how I remember those signs hanging from the balcony of the SHS gym on Florida Street. As I exit the gym, I run into a fellow classmate from the class of 1978 talking to the ticket taker. And what words fall upon my ear? “Yes, senior discount please.” How can that be? Seniors, take those signs home and cherish them. Trust me, the AARP card that arrived in the mail with my name on it lacks the same excitement and enthusiasm.
Our number 13 and number 3 wrote brief announcements to be announced. In that message, they thanked their parents for the hours they put in and the support they have given them. It was a heartfelt few words that meant a lot to Mom and Dad. I think that I did that as well. Dad is no longer around. But my mom sat behind me on this special night and had my back like she has done for 55 years. Thanks, Mom, for the hours you have spent in gyms and the constant support you have shown me.
Our seniors had nothing but kind words for their teammates and classmates. At age 14, they may not have valued those around them. At 18, they know how special those people are. On this night I had three of my best friends from my senior class in the gym, who shared my appreciation of Knights Volleyball and of our seniors. Ms. Fish and Ms. Casteel: trust me when I say these special feelings only grow as time passes.
Over the course of the evening our seniors recounted many special times that took place in the gym or hallways. It is so wonderful to know they remember so much about their four years. And they will never, ever forget them. Just as I can remember how the gym smelled, what song the SHS stage band played and much more. But on this special night, I forgot where I put the microphone, lost the line-up, and couldn’t remember where I left the locker room keys. All of which prompted the Mrs. to say “Richard, you are scaring me.” Which we all know what she meant by that. Yet, another senior moment.
Senior night for our middle hitter and libero signifies that a new beginning looms. One that will bring much success to them in college, parenthood, and whatever careers they choose. As I turned from giving the girls a hug, I see my new beginning. On this special evening, my daughter and son-in-law had brought my six-month-old grandson and nearly four-year-old granddaughter. Both are near the bench and I know many special moments await and perhaps I will experience their Senior Nights in the not so distant future.
Yes, it was a great evening for our two seniors, two senior coaches, and all the others adults who experienced the grown-up version of senior moments. Girls, keep on kicking up the dirt, getting yourselves and the team ready for the sectionals. I will work hard to keep the dirt off of me and will make it a priority to be there with you. The team is 30-15 and start sectionals Monday, November 2, at St. Marys .