High school athletes say goodbye to lifelong sports

High school athletes say goodbye to lifelong sports

Kyle Peirce, Sports Reporter

Sports bring us some of our greatest and most fond memories. They take up an immeasurable amount of time throughout our lives, often year round for many athletes. By the time senior year rolls around many are good enough to play at the next level, but some choose not too. For senior Bri Tilton, she was all set to play volleyball at Hope College until she had a change of heart.

It was a hard decision, and it took a lot of self-evaluating. I came to the decision of not playing by thinking what was going to better my future,” Bri said. “I decided to get me to where I want to be, playing volleyball may not be the best option. I also am searching for new experiences. Volleyball takes a lot of time and dedication, and I decided I had dedicated so much time in my life this far in volleyball, so I want to see the other opportunities in the world for me.”

“My advice would be think of the person you want to be 10 years from now. Make the decision you feel that would best honor you.””

— Bri Tilton

Many kids imagine themselves playing at the next level but don’t see it at less than Division One. The reality is that only 3% of all athletes go on to play college sports; 1% for each division. So while not many go on to play competitively, there are some that have the choice that still pass on the opportunity. There are many reasons for this. One of them being what they are looking for in a college.

Bri will be attending Grand Valley State University next year.

“I chose GVSU for many reasons, some being the distance was good for me, being very close with my family I could not imagine being far,” Bri said. “The campus is very new and accommodating for students which was important to me. One of my favorite things about GV is it is a big school with almost a small school atmosphere. I knew the first time I stepped on the GVSU campus as a prospective student that was the place for me.”

For Bri and many others, deciding not to play at the next level was a hard choice since she has been playing sports for as long as she can remember.

“I have been playing some sport since I was 5, competitive volleyball since 5th grade,” Bri said. “Your social life does take a hit, but when you’re practicing and getting better you do not see it as a bad thing. You’re surrounded with people who all strive to get better in the same sport you love. Practicing every night for years does take you out of some social events, but at the same time, you are building life long friendships and a bond over the love of the game.”

The decision not to play is a tough one, and it is a very big decision to make when deciding on a future school. Many want to go to bigger schools and get the big-time college environment. The difference between a small school athletic environment and a big one is pretty noticeable. It all comes down to what a prospective student wants in their college experience.

“It would have most definitely swayed me into playing. I was looking for a big school and the level of play I could have pursued in college it would not have allowed me to get the big school I wanted plus volleyball,” Bri said. “Although the bigger the school the more commitment which would have been something I would have had to think about but I would have most likely decided to play.”

Almost every athlete at some point in their lives will decide what they want to get out of their sport. For some, playing a sport in college is a big factor in their decision, which negates the school size issue that some see as a dealbreaker. But if they go the other way it is always sad to see talented people in their respected sports hang up their cleats, sneakers, skates, and skis competitively for good. It will be quite a culture shock at first, with these people suddenly finding a lot of free time on their hands when they get to college. It will take some time, but everyone needs to make a decision for themselves and possibly discover more about themselves without their sport.

“My advice would be to think of the person you want to be ten years from now, and make the decision you feel that would best honor them,” Bri said.