What two former Shore High School sports stars advise today’s athletes
Once they looked forward but now they're looking back. In the final-part of our series on high school sports, two former stars coach today's athletes on how to succeed.
We may not always listen to people who've done it before, especially as teenagers, with anything let's be honest.
We always seem to know it all when we're that young and then realize mom and dad and coach and teacher were right all along and are just trying to steer us in the right direction so we don't fall astray and make the mistakes of anyone who came before us.
High School sports for some is a break out party, for the shy individual (like I was) to make life-lasting friendships, create memories you can tell your grand-kids about and look up to several teachers or coaches who serve as mentors.
"When it comes to being an athlete, you're still a student-athlete," 2010 Toms River East Grad Kari Lefebvre.
I have a few of those teachers and coaches from high school, not only do I still keep in touch with but will reach out them on occasion to ask for advice, even seven years after I graduated high school myself...even as a 25-year old.
I also have my parents to thank. They never forced me to play anything, it was all my choice, but they always encouraged me to see things through even after a bad practice or game, and to never give up, never drink, smoke or take steroids. "Just be yourself", they'd say and I took it to heart.
High School sports are also a break out party for skill where the competition gets better, the games more intense and meaningful and a place where you really find out if you're good enough and have the mental strength to be honest with yourself and realize you're not going to be a pro one day.
In High School I played four years of football and ran track all four years as well where to this day I'm 9th all time in the history of Toms River East track and field with an 11.91 100-meter dash in outdoor track.
I want to now pass the baton to two of my classmates, one who I played football with and the other who became just as much a friend...
Nico Steriti advises today's high school athletes to always give it their all and hold nothing back.
"Pursuit it relentlessly with a balanced mind, body and self and just know that building boundaries to identify yourself with are just walls you're going to have to take down at some point," Steriti said.
He also encourages athletes to never take anything for granted.
"Don't build boundaries to identify yourself with because you're boundless and able to play a game, you're able to play a sport through choice," Steriti said.
(Article continues below video)
(Fall 2009 Shore Sports Network video post-game interview following TRE vs. TRS game)
Swimmer classmate Kari Lefebvre stresses the importance of academics while playing high school sports as it was for her when she was at East.
"A big part of it was keeping grades up, if you didn't keep your grades up you weren't doing your sport," Lefebvre said. "I think that's the other piece that people kind of forget when it comes to being an athlete...you're still a student-athlete."
High school sports also teach the importance of working together, trust and having a team first attitude.
Lefebvre says that where teams bond.
"You're working together for the same goal, you all want to do your best for each other and for yourself," Lefebvre said. "I think it definitely builds that closeness."
But the bottom line, Lefebvre who went on to star at Ramapo College, explains is that if today's high school students are even pondering playing a sport...go for it.
"Have a passion for it. If it's something you really enjoy, go for it," Lefebvre said. "Always push yourself and work hard in the pool and out of the pool."
We all want to play in the pro's when were kids growing up but after high school, the chances of making it to the next level lessen.
As an 8-year old in 1999, Steriti wrote down his goal in a journal of one day playing in the NFL and with all the greats.
"From day one, that's what I wanted to do," Steriti said. "Anything else, any other plan-b, any other egg in the basket...was just not my cup of tea."
He stared at the University of New Hampshire but hung up his spikes following years of on and off injuries.
But he says that he has no regrets from playing football because he always gave it his all and enjoyed playing.
I stopped playing tackle football after high school but continued track into college at D1-Sacred Heart University before I hung up my spikes for good.
My other advice for today's high school athlete...don't ever doubt yourself or your ability, don't ever give up, don't disrespect anyone, listen to your teachers, coaches and principals or any school staff member...always be yourself, don't succumb to peer pressure even when 'everyone else is doing it' because more often than not the popular things is not the right thing to do.
Above all, have fun, enjoy it and never take any practice or game for granted because our sports careers all end someday, just at different times.