Hanging It Up; Joey Lovetere

This time is bittersweet in the world of athletics. 

Some seasons end abruptly in post-season play.  Some seasons come to a planned end with no post-season.

Careers are finishing.  For those fortunate to play college athletics and make it through to their senior season, it probably marks the last time they are part of an organized team in 12 years.

That’s a ton of practices and off season workouts and games. 

That’s a bunch of relationships built and forged through difficulties and triumphs.

I’ve watched it from the vantage point of broadcaster and Sports Information Director and Dad.  I’ve lived it myself as a high school basketball player.

Nothing can prepare you for the emotions that well to the surface, but you have to deal with them and those experiences help you become an adult.

Joey Lovetere sat in my office the week after the Dordt football season came to an end.

I asked him how it felt to be finished playing football.

His reply…..”I don’t know.  It’s not real yet.”

I told him to take a couple weeks and write about what’s going through his head.  I’m hoping it was in a way therapeutic. 

Here’s the first person account of a small college football player finishing his career.

mbyk 

Hanging It Up-Joey Lovetere

For 14 years it has been more than a game; it has been life lessons, love, joy, and heartbreak.

And after 14 years, the last snap has been played, the cleats have been hung up and I close this chapter of my life.

So often you hear ‘football is just a game,’ and part of that is true. However, to me this was much more than just a game – it was my first love, the thing that would keep me up at night, the thing that brought different people from different backgrounds and lifestyles and turned them into family.

So often you hear ‘football is just a game,’ and part of that is true. However, to me this was much more than just a game – it was my first love, the thing that would keep me up at night, the thing that brought different people from different backgrounds and lifestyles and turned them into family.

From a young age this sport taught me discipline, time management, how to deal with success (and loss), and saying goodbye. I will never forget as a young kid I hated running after practice, and to no surprise that continued through my whole career. However, it also taught me love, joy, brotherhood, and respect. All of these things I will take with me as I continue to go through life.  

This game taught me so much more than how to break on a ball, or form tackle.

This game taught me so much more than how to break on a ball, or form tackle. People look at the sport and forget the time and the effort and the character that is built from playing such a wonderful game. 

At first I was scared, “no more football what am I going to do?” I thought to myself this game is my life, and now I do not get to play anymore. However, a very smart coach told me, “If football is the highlight of your life then something is wrong”. Sure enough my coach couldn’t have been more right. 

Of course I will miss this game more than anyone will know, but that does not mean my life has to be put on hold.

Of course I will miss this game more than anyone will know, but that does not mean my life has to be put on hold. It just means that I have to close one door and wait for God to open the next one. I firmly believe God has the ultimate plan in my life…I know He has bigger and better things for me in the future, and knowing this has made it a lot easier to finish playing the game.

Now people ask if it has hit me that I am no longer a football player, and for me I do not think it will hit me until winter workouts, when I see the team start to train and prepare for the next season. Right now, everyone is focused on finals and finishing the semester strong, but when the spring rolls around and the team laces up their cleats again I know it will hit me. However, this is not goodbye. Football is a part of me and I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

This just means I will love the game from a different perspective.

I will never forget the feeling of putting my pads on in the fall, smelling the fresh cut grass, or hearing my cleats hit the ground, but most of all I will never forget my brothers throughout my years of football. My team has been the most important thing to me.  

We talk about the reason why we do things, and my team was my greatest reason why. I love these guys so much.

As a kid you think about how good you want to be, but as you get older you learn to be selfless and do whatever the team needs. We talk about the reason why we do things, and my team was my greatest reason why. I love these guys so much, and I know here at Dordt these bonds that were created with one another will never be forgotten.

So no, this was never just a game to me, it was so much more and it will continue to be for as long as I live.

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