For me, driving around listening to country music on a semi-warm, sunny day as winter begins to turn into spring is synonymous with baseball, the sport I played in high school.
It takes me back to a time when I was returning from Terre Haute North after finishing training at Don Jennings Field.
It was then.
So, two weekends ago, when the temperature was in the mid-50s, I got in my car and went to dinner at my parents’ house. One of the first things that came to mind was my time as a Patriot.
I then turned on the radio and heard a very familiar song by country artist Scotty McCreery called “Five Minutes” play through the speakers.
I’ve heard the song dozens of times but for some reason this Sunday night I listened more intently than usual.
And on the fourth verse, it hit me when he sang, “At eighteen, I put my helmet back on and walked to the fifty-yard line. Just the coach and me after losing eighteen to nine. And I shouted, “Man, next time I come in here, I have to buy a ticket. Can’t you give me five more minutes?
Memories washed over me about my last pitching game in a North uniform – the sectional semi-final against – oddly enough – Northview at Plainfield.
I still vividly remember being taken out of the game in the sixth inning and watching what turned out to be the winning run go through the plate and my high school career come to an abrupt end after we didn’t was able to string together a rally to tie it up in the seventh.
I held back the tears that crossed the line of the handshake. They still haven’t come after hearing coach Shawn Turner thank the senior class for all our contributions or during the hour-long bus ride home.
But once I got into my car which was in the parking lot below the first base line of the North field, it hit me. Tears rolled down my face as I realized I could never play the game I love with my best friends.
Emotions hit me again the next morning when I came downstairs to find a gigantic photo of Fay Spetter, one of our assistant coaches and my all-time favorite coach, wrapping her arm around my shoulder as I leaving the field for the last time. as a patriot on the front page of the newspaper’s local sports section.
The drive to my parents’ house is no more than 10 or 15 minutes, but all my memories and sporting moments from high school took up most of that time two weeks ago.
The other five minutes or so? I thought of the senior basketball players from Clay City and Northview who are preparing to play their final high school games possibly.
It could happen on Wednesday if things don’t go the way for the Eels or the Knights or it could happen after a state championship. But no matter when the final buzzer sounds, the finality of its end is never easy. So, if I had to give any advice, it would simply be to enjoy every moment because when it’s over, it’s over.
And the next thing you know, you’ll be driving down the road reminiscing about those days as your phone rings left and right with notifications from your class president trying to prepare for your 10-year reunion.