The lessons learned from competing in high school sports have proven invaluable in my life, and I believe that's the case for many others as well.
That's one of the reasons I am so pleased to assist the coaches who are passing on these life lessons - and highlight the athletes who are learning them - as the new high school sports editor at the Lansing State Journal.
The words of my high school track and field and cross country coach come back to me all of the time.
One thing he used to say, for example, was "if you've got it with you, you can put it on."
This advice has proven especially helpful over the years watching outdoor sports events. I have been at many football games and track meets where I have been overheated at the beginning and freezing at the end.
Even when I head into a building in the heat of the summer, I often take a sweater or sweatshirt in with me because you never know if a particular building has its air conditioning on full blast.
I found myself again quoting my Kalamazoo Christian coach, Keith Hoekwater, last week in a casual conversation with a mother whose child was taking part in winter training between cross country and track.
I echoed my coach's words that "every mile run is money in the bank that you can withdraw upon during races later on."
My coach also taught me to set goals.
I don't think I ever met my goals of running 1,000 miles over a summer or 750 over a winter, etc. But I know I ran a lot more miles than I would have if I hadn't set a goal at all.
Becoming the high school sports editor was a position I hoped for when I first came to the Lansing State Journal 20 years ago. I got closer each time the position came open, and this time it worked out.
Persistence, despite failing or coming up short at times, is a common theme coaches teach their athletes in a wide variety of sports.
Many coaches have repeated this quote attributed to former President Theodore Roosevelt, who loved sports:
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
My wife, Susan, recently passed on to me this quote attributed to former British prime minister Winston Churchill:
"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
Trying to cover 30-some sports at 40-some high schools in the State Journal's coverage area is a daunting task.
But one of my goals as the high school sports editor is to help coaches and athletes boost that enthusiasm.