It’s easy to get nostalgic when in a room of high school football players being celebrated for their accomplishments.

Memories of the time you were in their shoes come flooding back, thinking about what it was like to have the whole world in front of you. Only you didn’t know it then. But, boy, you do now.

Attending the Richmond Times-Dispatch/Touchdown Club of Richmond All-Metro football banquet this past week, I was reminded again how fast life passes.

How one day you’re chasing a quarterback and the next you’re chasing a 6-year-old.

If only you listened to your coach when he told you over and over to enjoy these moments because you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to get them back.

Of course, then we were 10-feet tall and bulletproof.

Now, we’re shorter and arthritic.

Wednesday, dozens of the top high school players in the area were honored for making the All-Metro first and second teams. I shook their hands as they were recognized.

I wanted to tell each of them to hold on to this moment as if it were a football. High and tight.

I also wanted to tell them to not take for granted how they got here. Especially if someone else drove.

Don’t dismiss or forget the hard work, the sacrifices, the late nights and early mornings. But not just for them, but for their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings — whoever helps feed, clothe and protect them.

To tell those people thank you. Thank you. Thank you. A thousand times, thank you.

We never get anywhere by ourselves. We ascend by climbing and standing on the shoulders of those who help pave the way, who drive us to practice, who cook us dinner, who clean up after us, who make sure we aren’t late, who coach us, teach us, love us, help us.

It’s because of them we are who we are.

I wanted to tell those young men walking across that stage to think about that. To remember that. To never forget that.

I wanted to tell them that right now it’s about you, but it can’t end that way. It can’t always be about you. Others matter.

There has to be give-back. Remember that.

Many of those talented players will pen their names on national letters of intent Wednesday on National Signing Day and make plans to attend college to play football.

I wanted to tell them to get an education, too. To hit the books as you hit the weights.

Sure, it’s cliché. Everyone says it. And you’ve heard it a million times — stay in school, get your education, strive to be more.

But it’s true. It matters. A lot.

Football is a chapter in your life. It’s not your entire story. And it’s still being written.

What’s it going to say? What do they want it to say?

I wanted to ask them that.

I wanted to tell those All-Metro standouts to stand out. Not just because they’re athletically gifted, but because they have a platform to make a difference.

Whether they know it or not, they are role models. They have the power to set an example others will follow — good or bad.

Which do they want it to be?

And even if they’re not the biggest, strongest or fastest, they can still make a difference by serving others, not just themselves. We all can.

I wanted to ask them if they’ve ever thought about any of this. Because if they haven’t yet, they soon will. I promise.

And then they’ll write a column about it.

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@Szvetitz

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