Graduates: Exciting time of your lives on the horizon

Graduates: Exciting time of your lives on the

6 8 17

By Eric Becker

The Write Team

Sunday, May 28, I really felt old. I mean, really, for the first time, realizing how quickly the years seem to just quickly pass into the night.

For the third straight year I had the privilege of covering the CHS Commencement Exercises.

I was listening to one of the senior speakers, Megan Passalacqua, note that members of the Class of 2017 were born in either 1998 or 1999.

At that time, I was 25 or 26 years old, in my second job out of college working for the Clinton Daily Journal.

Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa had the home run derby of the century in 1998. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were heating things up in the White House. Gasoline prices were well below what they are now.

That’s what the Class of 2017 entered this world to and some 17-18 years later, they are leaving to an incredible amount of technological advancements that I still have trouble comprehending.

Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat did not exist. Nor did a million other social media websites. Amazon? Never heard of it back then. The Internet was just then becoming a sensation.

While graduates should feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, know that life isn’t always fun and games.

I struggled many times trying to figure out my niche in life. I hated high school. Completely. Hated. It. To. No. End.

Graduation day came and I hurriedly accepted my diploma and got the heck out of Cass Gymnasium on that rainy May Friday night in 1991.

The next four years spent at Eastern Illinois were some of the finest, but it did go quite quickly. I got out of there in four years, but it didn’t seem that long.

Two weeks after graduating from college, I was able to land my first ‘real’ job.

You learn a lot from a lot of different people. I learned the importance of taking criticism when somebody doesn’t like something you wrote, or if you mistook a cow for a horse in a photo caption of the county fair.

You learn to deal with disappointment, be humble when recognized and always keep your wits about you. The job I have can be mentally draining at times, but oh so rewarding at the same time.

Since 1995, I’ve covered many a good athlete at various towns, and saw many a graduation.  I went to a small school, graduated from a small school, but I simply did not live high school like I should have. If I could relive those days, I’d do everything differently.

I thought I wanted to be an accountant when I graduated high school. Instead, nearly midway through my college years, I switched majors. Hard to do, but I kept my focus. I got my work done. Took the classes necessary still to get out of there in four years.

Once outside of the realm of high school, somewhere along the way, I found my way. Don’t know when it happened or how it happened – it happened.

I became a sports journalist – albeit at a high school level – but it is the best job in the world, in my biased opinion. It’s about the sheer pleasure of covering athletes competing at the highest level of their abilities. I would not want to do anything else on Fridays in the fall than cover a football game somewhere.

Funny thing is, I never went to one football game when I was in high school, and only a couple of basketball games that I can recall.

Never went to a wrestling meet, softball game, baseball game, golf meet, cross country meet, soccer match or track meet until I had a real job. Volleyball was not on my radar at all until 1995, when covering Edwards County Lions, they made it to the Supersectional. Even then, I had no clue about the terminology because I had never been to a volleyball match either.

You try new things, you discover new passions and suddenly, you have a career. I became a husband and father in my mid- to late 30s. Best thing that ever happened.

It could happen to any of you 2017 graduates out there. My advice is enjoy your newfound freedoms, but don’t take things too fast. Follow your passion. Live for the future.