January 17, 2019
Thursday — since I first joined South Cuyahoga Sportsman’s Association’s Junior High Power Rifle Team in 2015, Thursday has been my favorite day of the week. Most kids would look forward to Friday…the end of the week…the start of two days of freedom from school — as I did too, but nothing meant more than Thursday evening rifle practice.
All throughout high school, I made it my goal to never miss practice. It didn’t matter how much homework I had — I would rather sacrifice some sleep than give up seeing my “range family” and losing out on an evening that gave me enough motivation to make it through the coming school days. Provided of course, my dad was able to drive me. Flash forward four years and a lot has changed. I have missed more practices than I would like. (Transportation from college becomes an issue on a weekday night.) Even so, I have had the chance, with the help of my family and coaches, to introduce a good number of students to the shooting sports who otherwise would never have been exposed to it.
Tonight was the first practice I missed in 2019. It is bittersweet as I am busy with preparations for the 2019 SHOT Show and homework from the classes I will miss. Over the past month and a half I had off from school, I have really forged an even closer relationship with the members of my team — something that I never dreamed was possible. These young men are my confidantes, the people who make me laugh harder than anyone else, and who I call when I just need someone to talk to. Though I am sometimes called “Team Mom” I know they love me for it and I just use it as an excuse to give them extra hugs. 🙂 (Sorry guys!)
It is amazing how much I can miss spending just a few hours with my “range family,” both juniors and adults, though in this post I focus on my teammates. Having someone one’s age to relate to and share experiences with is critical. I am beyond lucky to have more than one. I can have a horrible day, but hearing from one of them, or laughing at one of our innumerable inside jokes completely turns my day around. One of my coaches took this photo around Christmastime. It is the first and only picture I have of all of “my guys” together. I shall forever treasure this photo as it reminds me of the support system I have when I feel misunderstood by many my age. It also reminds me of what I so love about the shooting sports — the community one joins.
Find a family in your passion. Find others who share your ideas, rejoice in your successes and help you through your failures and disappointments. It is not just a friendship — it is a special bond that few truly understand.