What to Give Up

May 24, 2008
By Jordan Malin, Park Ridge, IL

What to Give Up

Here I was making one of the biggest decisions of my life. Also was one of the hardest decisions of my life. Having to give up something that you love really is not something that you want to do. However by giving this thing up life would be a lot easier and much more stress free. Fall is a very busy part of the year for me; in fact it can get pretty rough at times. After a nice relaxed, stress-free summer I kick straight into school. For a high school student like me school definitely is not the easiest thing to deal with alone. Also I was expecting a very tough year of school, everyone knows that junior year is the toughest, you have almost a full schedule, and of course the infamous ACT to get ready for in the spring. If you add two very competitive hands on sports to a jam packed junior year academically it doesn’t exactly make life very easy. Growing up I loved sports my whole life, in fact sports was my life. I played soccer, baseball, hockey, football, and even some tennis and golf. When I was young and sports were not as competitive, it really seemed like I could have played anything and somehow fit it into my schedule.
When I got older sports got more competitive, more intense. By the time that I reached high school I was playing hockey, football, and baseball. Really the spring and winter seasons would be easy hockey all winter, and baseball all spring, there was really no issue there. However the fall has always seemed to be the problem. Hockey was my favorite sport growing up as a kid. I love everything about the game and know that there really aren’t many fans of the game out there like myself. I started skating when I was three years old and was on my first team by the age of five. Hockey may possibly be the most time consuming sport there is, and requires more dedication then any sport that I know of. There are two seasons “fall” which goes from September to early March, and “spring” which is less important and goes from late March to early June. This season was my Midget season and I was going to be a part of a team that played in the Central States Developmental Hockey League, one of the top amateur leagues in the country. I would be going traveling to Midwest states at least four or five times this season just to play league games. This was a great opportunity for me as a hockey player, and also to have a great time with my friends on a team with very high expectations. I really did not know how I could give up a sport that I loved so much. Really I did not know how I was going to let go of something that has been such a major part of my life. When I look back at my decision today I feel that I made the right one.
The big problem was that I also loved the game of football, almost as much as I love the game of hockey. Growing up in Park Ridge I was attending Maine South football games since I can remember. My dad is a former player and huge Maine South fan. I have very fond memories of sitting in the Maine South bleachers when it is below zero outside, and traveling down to U of I to see state championship games. As a kid I could not wait until the day that I would become a Maine South football player. As a junior I would finally take the field as a Varsity football player for Maine South, one of the storied programs in all of Illinois. I was finally at the point that I had been waiting for since I was a little kid. How could I have passed up on an opportunity like that? When I look back at my decision today I feel that I made the right one.

The stress of making this decision was really starting to hit me. I thought about it every day, and at times I was losing sleep over it at night. How could I give up hockey something that has been my pride and joy all of my life? How could I pass up on this opportunity of playing varsity football for Maine South High School? Am I going to be physically and mentally able to handle playing on two teams of such high regard? For the past two years of high school I played both football and hockey in the fall season. It really was not the biggest deal playing both. Yes it was very exhausting and left me with little to no free time, but I would never once regret it today. However this year schedules would be conflicting much more than they ever have before, and playing both sports at such a high level may not be what was best for my body physically. Going to football practice after a long day of school is not easy. Coming home after football, having some time to eat dinner, and possibly get some homework done, then heading to the rink for practice, and finally getting home at around 10:30, even as late as 11:30 just may be way too much for me to handle. Another aspect that was going to affect my decision was my future with athletics. Hockey is probably my stronger sport and where I excel the most. Playing hockey in college could very well be a possibility in my future, if I were to give up hockey my junior year of high school, it would be basically be throwing that all away. However, when I look back at my decision today I feel that I made the right one.

I remember last summer, the time of the year where I should be stress free and having fun. I was participating in some off-season hockey workouts, and also football camp. The workouts and the camp weren’t at all stressful to me, however thinking of the decision I was going to have to make was. Losing sleep during the summer seemed kind of ridiculous for a teenager. Part of myself was telling me to drop one of the sports. The other was telling me to stick it out and do my best to play both. If I were to make it to early November football would end and I could focus myself fully on my family, school, hockey, and possibly spending some time being a regular high school teen. I knew that I had some rough times ahead of me however somehow I felt that the right decision was toughing it out and doing both. When I look back at my decision today I feel that I made the right one.

As summer came to and end, and school, football, and hockey were all coming closer and closer day by day this decision I had to make was eating me alive. I knew that if I were to give up one of the two sports it would probably be better for me physically, academically, and just a lot easier on my life. However picking between two things I loved so much just really didn’t seem like something that I was ready to do. I thought back to all the positives that hockey has had on my life. Going through my head was about 12 years of great memories. I made some of my best friends through hockey, I won state championships, and I put hours and hours of hard work and dedication into the sport. The same thing with football, I have put in so much time and dedication to the sport and have gotten so much out of it that I would want to play the game for the rest of my life if I could. All I have to say is that I had a rough September, October, and November. However, when I look back at my decision today, I feel that I made the right one.

My parents remained neutral on this issue. My mom told me that I should do what I felt what was right, and that she knew that I would make the right one. She told me she would support me with whatever I decided. My dad told me that he would support whatever decision I made as well. He has always told me that I should play as many sports I can, as long as I possibly can. He told me how much he misses playing sports, and how much he enjoys watching me play hockey and football, and even how he still wishes that I would play ten more sports. However he wanted what was best for me and if that meant giving up one of the two then I should make that decision.

When the end of August came I made my decision and I stuck with it. Like I said before when I look back at my decision today I really feel that I made the right one. I decided I wanted to continue playing both football, and hockey. Another year of it couldn’t be that bad right? Wrong it was definitely not a very easy few months. Somehow I always knew that I would make it out alive, and yes I did. Although it may have not been in my best interest making the decision to play both, I definitely do not regret it one bit. My football season was awesome, I had so much fun with my teammates and we had great success almost going to the state championship. Hockey as well, I had a great time with my teammates and we ended up being the third best teams in the state, and in the top 25 in the Midwest. However it definitely at times was not very fun, not very fun at all. There were some points where I was completely exhausted and really almost thinking maybe I didn’t make right choice. My schedules conflicted many times, I missed out on going to Detroit, Omaha, and St. Louis with my hockey team, due to football games on weekends. However when football ended I spent plenty of time traveling with the team.
When football ended in November and I had all that extra time on my hands I could focus just on hockey. I thought wow I’m pretty sure that the decision I made was the correct one. When Hockey slowed down in March, and I had even more time on my hands I found myself thinking what am I supposed to do now? This upcoming year may be my last year that I play organized sports again. This year I am going to be a much bigger part to my football team, and once again hockey is going to be more even more if I play on the team that I am most likely playing for. Ironically as I write this story I once again am in the midst of making the same exact decision as I did last year, and this time around the decision is even bigger. I again have thoughts and questions running through my head of which sport am I going to give up next year, or if I going to someway find a way to play both. However at this point I have some pretty good decision-making expierence under my belt and I know that in the end I am going to make the right choice.

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