BY PERRY HUNTER
It’s been 25 years.
Has it really been 25 years since I graduated from good ole Henryville High School?
Are you kidding me? Twenty-five years?
I can remember my mom being 25 years old. I can remember myself being 25 years old.
I have been out of school longer than kids who graduated from high school seven years ago. There have been four Presidents since I graduated.
Since 1988, we went from cassette players with headphones playing a mixtape to Ipods playing thousands of songs on a smaller device. We have gone from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.
I sure don’t look like I did back then. I sure don’t move like I did back then. But my shooting form is still as sweet as back then, and I can still throw a curve for a strike, when my shoulder isn’t killing me.
The glory days, right?
Back when you had zero responsibility and all you had to do was play sports.
You would walk the halls of the school or the streets of the town and people knew who you were for one reason — you played for the local team.
Open gym, open field, playing in the park, hanging out, doing what you wanted within the confines of what your parents told you to do and would allow.
Scoring 27 or 33 points in a game and seeing your name in the headlines — nice.
Hitting game-winning home runs or throwing a no-hitter against your rival — you were the king of the world. Or at least you thought so.
There couldn’t be anything bigger than me, right?
And yet, it seems that when you are that age, all you want to do is become an adult and get out of that little small town because you want to be treated as an adult.
Then you become an adult and you want to run back to high school and be that person who doesn’t have to worry about mortgage payments, children, your parents aren’t aging, or electric, water and grocery bills.
Teaching, I see it every year. Seniors lose all motivation to finish out the academic year. They want to be gone from the halls of high school.
Then they get a taste of the real world and the lack of order and discipline and we start to see them visiting by the beginning of school through the first year they are out.
I believe so many kids today do not take advantage of being a kid. They want jobs for extra money. They want to be free. They want to grow up too fast, and I blame us parents on that to some extent.
Kids today will quit playing a sport for so many reasons, some legit and some not. But how often will you get a chance to be a part of anything like high school athletics?
I can answer that for you, once, unless you get into coaching. And I am not so sure that isn’t one of the main reasons that I got into education and coaching, for that feeling of maybe never having to grow up.
I don’t care what people say, being a teacher and a coach is one of the coolest jobs you can have. Of course, it is one of the local jobs where everyone has an opinion on how you are doing, but you are dealing with their children.
I get to walk the halls of a school and coach the athletes and prepare them for life after this sheltered atmosphere they exist in now. I get to open the gym in the summer, have fall, winter, spring and summer breaks.
I get to be a “kid” every day, yet I am not anymore, I am in charge. It’s funny because when I was in school, I kind of thought the teachers only existed within the confines of the school, I didn’t actually think they were people like my parents or other adults I knew.
Two years ago when I thought of the looming 25-year anniversary, I was sick to my stomach.
My gosh, my mortality smacked me square in the face. I was getting old.
How much longer do I have to live or live a quality life if I have been out of high school for 25 years?
But I feel so differently today about that than I did two years ago. I guess surviving a life-threatening event will do that to you when it comes to perspective on life.
Twenty-five years — really?
Awesome — I made it this far.
Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.