Dr. Joe Congeni, director of Sports Medicine at Akron Children’s, recently spoke with WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about the valuable lessons student athletes learned this fall.
Below is a transcript of the discussion.
Dr. Congeni: The high school fall sports season is coming to an end this week. And, over my 30 years of getting to work with young athletes, youth sports, I have to say these young people just impressed me so much this fall.
You know, we always talk about how sports isn’t the end all be all. There are a lot of other ways to learn great lessons, in school, of course. But, sports are not a bad little microcosm of a way of learning things about life later on. A few things I saw this fall really heartened me because we definitely learned a few life lessons this year in 2020. I might have seen more growth from kids in this past year than I’ve ever seen before.
One of the things kids learned this year is patience, you know, as we were sitting there in the middle of the summer. A lot of teams didn’t even know whether they were going to play at all. They practiced hard, but they weren’t even sure that they were going to get to play any games at all. That’s all sports this year: soccer, football, cross-country, volleyball. These kids showed a lot of patience, as games got canceled, new games added, practices cancelled. Learning to be patient is a life lesson I saw this year a lot.
Secondly, kids experienced the life lesson of sacrifice. These kids were abiding by the protocols. They had to give up a lot of social activities and things they’d normally be doing to stay healthy, and they did it because they wanted to sacrifice for their sport and their team.
I also saw kids learn a lot about discipline. They were constantly hearing about social distancing, masking up and all this kind of stuff. There were significant changes in their usual sports routines. There were changes all the time, and yet kids wanted to play for fun. They wanted to play for fitness. Did you see any teams that totally quit? They said, “Hey, this is too much, too many changes. We’re just going to quit. We’re going to pack it in right now.” No. Most of these kids hung in there through the season.
It looks like as we get through the end of this week, we’re going to get through the fall season of youth sports. There were an awful lot of life lessons that were learned out there this year, and I just wanted to give a hopeful note to show how much these kids learned and how far they came. It was really heartening to watch how well these kids did with all that.
Horner: I had Coach Tyrrell on the air with me from (Archbishop) Hoban High School. His team is playing in the state finals on Friday night, and I know you’ll be down on the sidelines for that game. He mentioned to me that the COVID-19 season of 2020 has been challenging, but he was really proud of his players, and I think that’s what you’re saying about all these families, players and coaches throughout the region. We’re all in this together, and this fall for the most part went pretty smoothly.
Dr. Congeni: I think it was very smooth and really eye opening. As we look back on this very odd year, I think we’re going to learn that, hey, it changed our lives in some ways, but some of those ways for the better. I think these kids learned a lot about themselves, so I was really, really heartened by that.
Let’s be hopeful, as we move from 2020 to 2021, that the scientists are close to coming up with some answers. Let’s hope that we continue to make progress in that area, as well. I think we all learned a lot of valuable lessons in 2020.
Horner: All right, thank you, Joe. Appreciate the time as always, my friend. Catch up with you next week. Have a great Thanksgiving.
Dr. Congeni: Yeah, thanks a lot. We’ll talk to you next Wednesday.