My Pitch

Embrace your local sports teams

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Bishop Hendricken football player Xavier Truss recently committed to playing college ball at the University of Georgia in the fall of 2019.

For those who are not aware, Georgia has become among the top college football programs in the country, regularly churning out NFL stars and winning big games. The Bulldogs made it to the National Championship last year but ultimately lost to Alabama.

Football is my favorite sport, it is an obsession, and I am looking forward to seeing Truss hit the field this fall when he plays his senior season. Whether you love football or not … this should serve as a reminder of the importance of watching and supporting your local high school teams.

Professional athletes don’t grow on trees. They come around locally once every few years, and a lot of them are ultimately low-end pros that barely make it in the first place. But once in a while, a local athlete will break through and be the next big thing.

Truss is still a teenager and has quite a ways to go before an NFL career is even in the conversation, but the fact that he is a legitimate prospect that could very likely and up there should excite Rhode Island sports fans and make you want to fast-forward the calendar to the football season.

I’m a sports nut. I enjoy watching sports at all levels and I’m the type of guy that can pump up any game if I know the teams. That’s just how I am.

Point being, that maybe not every sports fan matches my level of excitement over high school games, but I feel like some of the best stories come from the high school level, as well as some of the best talent.

There’s nothing like being under the Friday night lights at a fall football game, in a packed gym during a basketball game in the winter, or on the sidelines of a baseball game on a beautiful spring day.

I love professional sports as much as anyone, but not enough people nowadays appreciate the simplicity as well as the other perks of high school sports. And for those who are strictly pro sports fans, remember that all of these celebrity players once came from a local high school.

Even if Truss doesn’t make it all the way to the NFL, the fact that he will be playing for a school like Georgia is an incredible accomplishment and in a way is like playing professionally considering the spotlight that will be shed on him and Rhode Island. All across the country there is fantastic talent coming out of high schools, regardless if the talent is recognized by big college programs.

During my time covering sports, I can tell you that many of the best games I have watched have been high school. Sure, I may not know every player on the field and they may not be making millions of dollars, but a sport is a sport and a game is a game.

Some people look at me like I’m crazy when I make this point, but in my opinion, the fact that high schoolers are not on the same level as the pros helps the excitement factor.

Anything can happen at all levels, but there is a greater likelihood of seeing something special at the local level.

The Red Sox take a 5-0 lead into the final inning over the Yankees. The Red Sox will win 99 times out of 100. The players are too skilled to blow a five-run lead, plain and simple.

However, Pilgrim takes a 5-0 lead into the final inning against Johnston. Johnston still has a decent chance of winning. A routine ground ball for Derek Jeter is a lot different for a 16-year-old kid, rallies are easier to sustain, sometimes the team with the lead isn’t mature enough to handle the pressure. Of course this is not me rooting against a bunch of teenagers, I’m just saying that in local sports things are not given like they are in the pros.

Other perks include lesser driving distances, cheaper prices, better seats, being able to spend time with friends and family. The list goes on.

Trust me, there is also nothing like going to Fenway Park, drinking a few beers and watching some of the best players in the world compete. I’m not trying to argue that local sports top pros … I’m just trying to remind you that you can find some outstanding talent and entertainment right in your back yard when you don’t have the money or the available time to spend at other events.

Don’t underestimate the fun of a high school game. If you do, or you think I’m crazy, I dare you to catch a high school football game this fall and get back to me.

Who knows? Maybe the next Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods are right in your own neighborhood.

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