Editor's note: Spy Ponder athlete Remy Pontes, a junior at , is the at the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. The following is his full essay, titled "Student Athletes and the Community:"
As a student athlete on the Varsity Hockey and Baseball Teams in my junior year at Arlington High School, I have received tremendous support from my family, school, coaches, and town to achieve my goals in athletics and academics. I have always appreciated the compelling opportunities to succeed and to reveal the potential within each student that my community offers. Yet these opportunities are not just something one should expect from those around you, but also something one should return. It is a privilege to play for your school, and must be treated as such. Wearing the name on the front of a jersey means accepting a certain level of responsibility, acquiring leadership skills, and using those skills with integrity, particularly when challenges arise.
As an athlete, you are considered a role model, by younger children looking for inspiration in their own sport, or by anyone who needs to see that good values and virtues still exist and a healthy balance between athletics and academics can be achieved. Sometimes athletes are perceived as so self-absorbed in their pursuit of a competitive edge that they are oblivious to the need to give back tot eh community, even though so much is given to them. But athletes can contribute not only by scoring the winning goal in sudden-death overtime, but by considering their status as a role model seriously, by persuading even one student to reject the use of drugs and alcohol and pursue good grades. The poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “I slept and dreamed that life was a joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” In serving as an example, a student athlete can have a positive effect on their community.
This past hockey season, our team visited the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital. We stopped by dozens of rooms, the cafeterias, and lounges and handed out holiday gifts while taking time to listen to and learn from these heroes who had served our country and made opportunities available for others. It was enlightening and inspiring to see the pleasure that these few hours of interaction brought them. Even the facility staff seemed energized by our visit. The same week, we also visited the Park Avenue nursing home, giving out candy and signing carols to the residents. The choices one individual makes may alter a community entirely. There are no specific boundaries of a community; it can be defined as “groups of associated individuals leading a common life,” whether on a global scale, specific to a neighborhood, or anything in between. Our role in that week is just a small example of how even a few hours of service can affect others in a positive way. A goal to strive for is that those contributions made by student athletes will create a ripple effect reaching out to those most in need. In considering the future, these positive influences will hopefully extend beyond our high school years.