Tonight is a special night at Chris Hunter Stadium as we take time to honor our seniors, and I hope you can attend. We will recognize seniors participating in all of our fall sports as our varsity football team faces Whitefield Academy with kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
Senior football players, cheerleaders, and band members will be recognized during pregame activities, starting at 7:05 p.m., and seniors involved in crew, cross country, volleyball, and softball will be recognized at halftime. A reception for all seniors and their parents will be held in the Yancey Suite after the game.
This attempt to bring us all together is the athletic department’s way of saying thank you to all the seniors that have chosen to give so much of themselves day in and day out. We all know that we are the strongest when we compete and fight together, and tonight our seniors will say goodbye to the regular fall season as one.
Senior night means different things to different people.
To our fans, it is one last chance to watch for you to watch your friends compete and perform, one last chance to wake up and immediately feel the adrenaline as you realize it is our game day. It is the last chance to tailgate and hoop and holler with your friends as you dress in silly, spirited costumes. One more time to throw the powder up towards that amazing autumn orange moon as you become engulfed in the cloud of excitement. One last time to meet at Waffle House after the contest to relive, remember and start the legendary embellishments.
To our parents, it is the feeling of pride as you watch your child finish something that they started. It is the memory of not just tonight, but the hundreds of hours of driving you have given. The dozens of meals that were neglected in order to accommodate another sport schedule. The thousands of dollars redirected to get the finest uniform, shoe, lesson or camp. It is the reflection of all of the emotion that has been experienced through these activities; the tears from the humbling defeats, the exhilaration from great victories, the awful coaching when they benched your child, and the great pride felt when playing time was once again earned. I hope you can celebrate it all this evening and in a very small token please know we thank you.
To our seniors, it is one more time to hit the field with your friends that are so much more than friends. You and your fellow seniors have toiled, worked, fought, lost and won. You have shared all you have to share, and know each other at our worst and our best. You have formed a bond that will last the rest of your life and every milestone moment later in life memories of your teammates will be recalled. Thank you so much for choosing to commit, to give, and to care for so much more than yourself. I am proud of all of our Darlington Tigers, but tonight we celebrate the seniors that have given us so much. Thank you.
In reflecting on this senior night, I cannot help to think about my son’s last football game. We were in the playoffs and did not expect to lose that night, but it happened, and as I saw him take his helmet off for the last time, my heart broke as I knew I had just lost something I could never recover. On the Tuesday night following the game, we were experiencing an awful thunderstorm when I arrived home around dinner time. My wife asked me where my son was and since he was a high school senior, I really had no idea. But on a whim, I drove back to school and alone in the stadium parking lot was my son’s Bronco. I found him sitting underneath the goalpost in the pouring rain, sobbing. He looked at me and said he had lost a lot more than the game. I assured him that he had earned a great chapter in his life and we would always be thankful for all it had meant.
Thank you, Class of 2019.