Kaitlyn (not her real name, to protect her privacy) wasn’t a partier. She is an athlete. She’s a senior and a goalie on the high school hockey team.
What basketball is to a Jayhawk, hockey is to her entire state. Her team just won the sectionals and they were headed to the state high school hockey tournament. It was a pretty exciting moment for Kaitlyn.
She had been playing with the same girls for years, creating bonds as complex and tightly woven as the black tape that wraps each hockey stick.
The entire team was enthusiastic, proud, invincible and anxious to prove their stuff at the state tournament. They were backed and supported by the traveling band of siblings and parents bundled and blanketed at games held around the state. Kaitlyn’s parents had racked up hundreds, if not thousands, of miles over the years, traipsing from one frozen patch of ice to another. The back slaps and cheers from classmates and fans from around the small town served as the ticker-tape parade sendoff for the team of girls headed to the big city.
Who knows what Kaitlyn was thinking when she decided to pack that bottle of alcohol with her? Maybe it would be cool. Maybe it would show her teammates strength and defiance. Who knows? She’ll probably be asking herself that every day as that one single action loops over and over in her mind.
You’ve seen the goaltender, whose intimidating mask is often selected specifically to convey the identity of the goalie. Covered by the heavy and bulky leg padding required for protection that also makes them nearly immobile, she must bend and twist to guard the net. The pressure is intense as the stick-wielding, savagely skilled skater fiercely races toward the hulking goalie attempting to swipe the tiny 3-inch puck past the line and into the crease. The job itself calls for strength and defiance.
As they arrived at the hotel, the excitement and joy was thrilling. Spilling from room to room the girls shared their enthusiasm. Then just as things were beginning to wind down, a new and unsettling feeling swept through the halls.
One by one Kaitlyn’s teammates were called in when the coach heard whispers of “the bottle.” They were each questioned until it was determined that Kaitlyn had acted alone. The significance of her actions slowly began to weigh on her as the chill from her teammates spread. The fear and devastation of disappointing her closest friends was an unimaginable horror. Hurting the team’s chances of winning was simply inconceivable.
So now what? Kaitlyn is off the team before even taking the ice for the state tournament. She has been kicked out of school for three days. Her spring sport is now in jeopardy because the punishment applies for a specific time period. How will the colleges she’s applied to react? Not sure. Worse? Most mistakes that we made as teens remained in the past. Not for kids today.
“The current generation of teenagers could now be haunted by their youthful mistakes,” says Google chairman, Eric Schmidt. According to The Telegraph, he said young people now had to live with the consequences of having a complete record of all their youthful indiscretions online.
That’s a pretty steep price to pay.
As the weather warms and our own enthusiastic, anxious and invincible children look to demonstrate strength and defiance, let them look no further than this example. Share this story freely so that the temptations to “pack that bottle” are at least balanced by the knowledge of what the repercussions are for doing so.