To An Athlete Dying Young

Senior year in high school should be a pivotal and eye opening year for any kid. It’s a period of time that holds so much change and transition. At the age of seventeen or eighteen, it is a time where someone begins to become an adult. For all it’s good and bad, this growing up is bound to happen. What determines this “good” and “bad” though is the environment one finds themselves in and who they surround themselves with. For some it can be all “sunshine and rainbows”. However most of us are not that fortunate. Some of us see things and go through events that others are lucky not to deal with. At that young of an age, on the verge of adulthood, life gets more “real” for some. Sadly, I found myself apart of the latter when my time came to finally leave high school. When my senior year started, I couldn’t be more excited. The school was ours. We were the oldest and everything basically revolved around the class of 2010. It was our last hurrah. Throughout the year we went through more than a handful of our “lasts”. In the fall, we participated in our last homecoming. Wearing blue and gold, we hugged our parents on “Senior Nights” before our final home games. It was all bittersweet, but we knew our time was coming to and end with high school. It was sad at first, but the sheer excitement of graduating and taking off to college was something we had all waited for. When the spring rolled around, my tight knit group of friends and I were ready to embark on something special. As juniors the previous season, our lacrosse team had made it to the Massachusetts state semi-finals. So this year we vowed that we would make it to the title game and leave behind a legacy- be first one’s at our high school to capture the elusive state championship. Our goal was definitely attainable. Our roster was very deep with a lot of talent returning from the season before. We knew we were going to go far that year, however how far we went was up to us. If we worked hard enough and kept our heads on straight our dream could be accomplished. We all came into the school together four years before wanting the same thing, a ring, and things hadn’t changed. We were ready to go to war and raise a banner. We started the season hot right out of the gate. We won our first seven games in a row, including beating up on three ranked teams. We felt like we were on top of the world. We spent what seemed like every second together. We would go to school, practice right after, and hang out after that. The one thing we couldn’t keep from was partying. Growing up where we did, we kind of grew up faster than most kids. We were getting fucked up together at a young age. There had been many nights when one, two, or all of us found ourselves in some kind of trouble. That’s what people expected from Townie kids though. We emulated just about every Charlestown stereotype you could think of. It all caught up to us. We were no longer “just kids” running around and getting into trouble. That spring where we were supposed to accomplish our dreams, we slipped into a nightmare and it wasn’t hard to begin that spiral. We got a taste, an itch. We tried it once thinking it wouldn’t turn into anything big. We thought, “fuck it, we’re young, try anything once, right?” I pray to God everyday we thought twice before we did, but we didn’t. We found what we be John’s demise. Oxycontin. Painkillers. It doesn’t sound bad when you say it. It even sounds comforting; killing pain, killing what hurts you. That thought process is where we went wrong. The whole year we thought we were invincible. Our egos were huge being seniors, being on a nationally ranked team, being so close to a title. We didn’t think anything could hurt us. We were dead fucking wrong. After those first seven wins, all the good times came to a halt. The partying stopped, the laughing stopped, the smiling stopped. For our dear friend John, his heart stopped. After the seventh win, we did our normally celebrating in Charlestown. Parents and the adults around us knew, but we were winning so they turned their head at what we were doing. Looking back, it’s obvious they didn’t know to what extent our problems were. We weren’t just drinking, we were snorting opiates and we were hooked quick. It seems like the Oxy sunk it’s grip into us right away. I’ll never forget the Saturday morning I got the call. On Friday, we won and we went out. We got all fucked up and eventually made it home. Even John made it home that night. When my phone wrong it woke me out of a deep sleep and I was hit by a hangover immediately. Coach wanted the whole team in the locker room for a meeting on what was supposed to be a well deserved day off. I got to the locker room and didn’t see a single happy face. Everyone’s eyes seemed empty. Not a word was said until coach walked in, words I won’t forget for the rest of my life. “I got a call from John’s mother this morning. He’s gone” What had we done? Why did we ever start? Why did we turn a dream into a nightmare? John had one line too many the night before. The Oxy had finally caught up to him and he overdosed in his sleep. His little brother was the one who found him in the morning, not breathing. We pushed on without him, losing one game the whole regular season. His number twenty-two jersey was draped over the bench for every game. We dropped the pills after he passed on and tried to move forward and accomplish our dream of a state championship that we set out for in the first place. We entered that state championship game with a record of 21-1. We lost in overtime, and lost the state championship. We lost our innocence long before that. We lost and were one win short of twenty-two.


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