I went to one of the best high schools money could buy in Washington DC. However, my high school experience was far different than most. While I was often times extremely cocky, I was no different than your average high school football player who was destined to play for a D-1 University. My story is far more distinctive than most. In high school I often experienced bullying. However, my experiences with bullying further demonstrates what no child should have to go through.
My senior year my life changed forever on a Friday afternoon at a pep rally on the football field. All faculty and staff were filing into the stands. It was the day before we were set to play against our crosstown rivals, Gonzaga. It was also my first game back after missing three games because of a high ankle sprain. As we walked in the announcer began to call out each of our names one by one. The seniors were last and I was the last of all the seniors to have my name called. As my name was called the entire school as well as my teammates booed me for what felt like 30 minutes. I have thought about this moment for a long time and the only rational explanation that I have come up with, is that many of those students worked their entire lives, and had been told that academics trumps everything and if you work hard enough in school you will get into whatever school you desire.
My circumstances were completely different, I wasn’t the best student but I excelled at football. While all of these students were waiting to get answers back from institutions and stressing about schools and what paths their lives were going to take, my life had already been decided. Outside of every class during the month of November my senior year college coaches lined the hallways to get five minutes of my time as I walked to my next class. Looking back on this now I would have hated me too. While others dedicated themselves to school I dedicated myself to the game of football and was rewarded. Every athlete in high school lives for the moment to be recognized in front of their entire school for his or her accomplishments their senior year. When that moment came for me, I truly believe those students let out their envy and frustrations towards me. They were all laughing including coaches, teachers and administrators because that was the only way they knew how to accept my successes.
The only person that wasn’t there for the joke was a lady named Ms. Younger. She looked at me and knew that inside it was eating me alive. After the event was over I played it off the best I could, even holding back tears. As I began to walk back to the locker room I remember looking at the ground to be sure no one could see the emotions on my face. Then one of my coaches said something to me as trivial as my beard not being trimmed and I retorted with a sarcastic comment which resulted with me receiving detention. My head coach at the time endorsed his decision because of my “lack of respect”. At that moment all I was looking for was just the smallest sense of empathy like “Are you alright Kevin?”, and I couldn’t even get that.
As I continued to walk off the field with my head down I heard a voice calling my name, it was Ms. Younger who was the school counselor, and most likely the sole person who helped me graduate from high school. As she walk towards me with her arms open she knew the pain I was experiencing. She gave me a quick hug and told me to come with her. Before letting me go she whispered in my ear “Don’t let them see you sweat.” Please explain to me why on that day, out of the 1,000 students in the stands, the 200 administrators, teachers and staff only one woman showed compassion at a place where the schools values are built off of respect and compassion? How is it that at a distinguished Lasallian school, something like this could happen?
Now don’t get me wrong I’ve been booed before. I’ve walked into stadiums where 100,000 people will boo me just because of the jersey and school I attend, but I must ask, is this how people are suppose to treat one another? On that day I learned a valuable lesson of compassion and respect for others. I will never go out of my way to make someone’s life and living hell just because I’ve been through it and back. That day will forever be apart of me and in a funny way I’m appreciative that it happen because it has made me so much stronger.
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