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All thanks to my parents, I grew up playing sports and they have shaped me in the man I am. This list will explain to all of you who do play sports and even those who don’t, just what comes out of it.1. My group of best friends is the same group of best friends since I was 5 years old and we all met through sports one way or another2. Respect is taught in every sport, whether it’s Cheerleading or Hockey, your coach and parents always taught you how to treat others with respect.3. Dedication is built inside of every athlete. It’s the dedication learned in every practice, and every game. It’s there every time you sweat and inside every trophy. This dedication is carried over into my every day situations.4. Success is the only drive because we are all taught winning is the only thing. In life, success comes with winning. The feeling you get when holding up a trophy as a kid or even an award for Employee of the Month, is a feeling you’ll never forget.5. Playing these sports growing up, gave me a sense of competitiveness that carries over in everything I do. Whether it’s my school grades, or my job, I always want to be the best and I take everything like it is a competition.6. Knowledge in sports came from playing a variety of sports growing up. I played baseball, soccer, hockey, and football. I learned everything there is to know about these sports and it all came from playing them growing up.7. Keeping good health is one of the most important things in life. All the running, conditioning and eating healthy in prep for game day, has made me much healthier in my life.8. There’s one thing that sports does to a lot of kids that is over-looked often. It keeps us off the streets and from getting involved in any wild ill-mannered behaviors. With all the time you spend at these sports, you don’t have the time to get involved in the bad.9. Being called lazy is one of the most insulting words to a lot of people. I can assure you, if you play sports, go to school, and some have a job as well, you are not lazy.10. I have met people from all around the country and even the world. Meeting people from playing sports is so easy. I now have friends from Pittsburgh and as far as Switzerland.11. Memories from playing these sports growing up and even the memories I continue to make today, will last a lifetime. Every trophy or scar has a story to tell someone and a memory I will never forget.12. Sportsmanship is also over-looked a lot when we talk about benefits of sports. In most sports every game ends in a friendly handshake. We all love the game we play and as heated as the game gets we need to realize we are all humans who just love the game and each other.13. We all take pride for the team we play Whether it is for a school or a town pride plays a huge part in who we are. You learn to take pride in everything you do, schoolwork, accomplishments, etc. This was all taught to me one way or another through sports.14. Learning to lose is just as important as learning to win. We always don’t win, we have to learn to lose. Without losing, there is no winning. Sometimes I lose but I learn to be optimistic about it and bounce back and win the next time.15. Teamwork is the number one key to success in a team-oriented sport. Without working together, there is no success. Teamwork is used in everything. As small as a team of ants lifting up a piece of bread. Much too big for one ant to carry but with the help of 100 ants the bread will be moved. Learning to work together is used just about everyday. It is in school projects, at your job, and even maybe helping carry a heavy box for an elderly woman.These are the qualities sports has brought me over the years. No matter the sport, no matter the intensity a sport will require dedication, heart, and losing. Without these things what would life be as we know it. All I want to say is, thanks mom and dad for pushing me into sports, they changed my life forever.I, like another handful of people at my church, had been attending the church for as long as I could remember. The people I saw on Sundays were people I had played with in nursery and people that saw all the horrible middle school fashion choices I made. They were people who knew my life inside and out and people who became my second family. There was a point in my life where I was spending the majority of the week at my church. I attended Sunday service every week (I even came early and left late most weeks), went to small groups on Wednesday nights, spent almost every Saturday afternoon rehearsing with the worship team for service the next day, and it was not a surprise if I was there on Fridays as well for some sort of event preparation. I was involved in the student leadership, as well as the worship band as a keyboardist and so were the majority of my church friends that I had grown up with. It wasn’t rare for my friends and I to get dinner after a church event or Skype at night to just talk about life and hang out. Although as we got older and we started to have less time to interact as closely as we used to, the camaraderie we had was still there.I didn’t realize how rare this type of community was. We had our differences and there were definitely conflicts during our time together, but what I realized was that most importantly, we were growing, both individually and together, and supporting each other every step of the way.Sure, I learned a lot about my faith while attending church regularly, but I think the most important thing I learned during these eighteen years was the importance of fellowship.People often associate fellowship with religion, but Merriam-Webster defines fellowship as a “community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience” and “a company of equals or friends.” My youth group was full of people from a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and experiences, but we all came together under one interest (which happened to be our religion) and provided a supportive community for each other.I learned that everyone needs a group of individuals that they can call home and that even one supportive friend can make your life more meaningful. Growing up in this community taught me that I also needed to be that person to those around me. Fellowship is not possible unless each member of the community makes an effort to make the community feel like home. For us, that was what those countless hours spent cutting paper for event decorations and McDonald’s runs were for — they gave us more opportunities to laugh, learn, and experience life with each other.

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