By: Sabrina Russomanno
At first glance, some may believe that I am incredibly sure of myself: calm, cool, and collected. However, my memories of my introduction to high school contradict this statement. As a growing adolescent, I witnessed a multitude of sudden changes in my eighth grade year alone, thus further pointing out my nervousness for my transition into high school.
Yet, as I reminisce on these beginnings with my four years of attained knowledge and wisdom, I am more comfortable asking for help when needed, collaborating with others, and trying new things. In my eyes, these honorable attributes I possess are directly related and stem from my involvement in my community and at James Caldwell High School.
Throughout my life, I have partaken in any possible sport I could have. Nonetheless, I became enamored by the sport of tennis, and my passion for the activity flourished as I matured. My love for this sport particularly grew during my years on the James Caldwell High School girls tennis team. Since tennis is characterized by its normal individual rules, during my formative years as a player, excluding my time on the regional Caldwell summer team, I regularly participated in singles tournaments and clinics. I did not have the privilege to experience real companionship and teamwork until my high school tennis journey was kickstarted in the summer of 2016. In my four seasons, I was able to explore a collection of firsts, whether it be my first win, my first loss, my first after practice bagel, my first real injury, my first conference championship title, my first county tournament team title; while also encountering a numerous amount of lasts, my last high school win, my last high school loss, my final moments with my team. As I recall, the last four years of highs and lows, I can proudly declare that my most rewarding achievements are the longtime friends, morals, and memories I have acquired in what feels like a brief time of my life. Even in its simplicity, I can firmly state that tennis is one aspect of my life that has irreversibly inspired my own personal growth over my lifetime.
Moreover, I experienced this growth firsthand, my junior year of high school, as I was faced with my own inner struggles with anxiety and my own underlying struggles on the tennis court. As any teenager could probably agree, anxiety is a normal and recognizable battle that people face at this age; the overall pressure from high school practically breeds it. Personally, I was familiar with this idea, however, I had yet to face it head on in a school-like setting until my junior year at the annual Essex County High School Girls Tennis Tournament. Throughout the day I pondered the battle I had to face with this enigmatic term, anxiety, on and off the court. This unpredictable encounter I had, awoke me to realize the change I needed to make. Accordingly, I understood that I was surrounded by my teammates who supported me, no matter what. Those that I could always turn to, when in need of guidance during a period where I felt like I was lost. Consequently, as I recount these memories, I can discern how fortunate I was, and still am, to have been blessed with unconditional support and friendship from those I hold dear.
Correspondingly, as I remember my overall journey from incoming freshman to graduating senior, I can confirm my eternal gratefulness for a larger, more inclusive community stemming from my high school: my local youth group. As I have mentioned before, I was incredibly anxious for the unknown venture that is high school, however, these fears were abolished when I underwent my first Antioch at Notre Dame church. This biannual church retreat, open to any high school student, comprises an entire weekend spent with peers, where anything is possible. As a high school student, Antioch informs you of the importance of helping yourself and others, in order to always do good, no matter the circumstance. In my own Antioch experience, I have luckily stumbled upon life changing events, friendships, morals, etc. For instance, one of the main reasons I am pursuing my major of filmmaking at college next fall is due to the fact that someone I had just met that same weekend, placed this concept in my head and firmly believed in me to pursue that dream.Thus, throughout my life, I am positive, I will be forever thankful for pursuing this adventure, as it has given me more than I will ever need. In all honesty, I wish I could experience the wonders of this weekend for the rest of my life, if possible.
Presently, as I am embarking on graduation, I will continue to look back on the tangible and intangible things that James Caldwell has graciously bestowed on me, and attempting to grasp that I may never be able to thank it enough for what it truly deserves. Thank You!!!