One bead of sweat splashes across the newspaper headline. Still dressed in full football pads, I sit alone in the journalism computer lab, editing copy a few minutes before 9 p.m. Three hours after football practice, my cleats, untied, remain stuck on my feet and I have barely even made a dent in the stack of pages I have to edit.
When I was chosen to be Editor-in-Chief, my staff and the graduating seniors widely assumed I would quit football. The EIC rarely plays a sport, let alone one so demanding. There was no way I could pull off both, my staff said. It's too much; they're too different.
But these polar differences keen my interest. Not only does the mixture add a variety to my routine, but it also stretches me in opposite directions, forcing me to reach goals I would never have otherwise.
And while the distinctions between the two entice me, the unlikely similarities undoubtedly shape me. Journalism and football require so much of me, and although one entails intellectual adeptness while the other necessitates primal instincts, both subject me to me to a pressure that leaves little leeway for mistakes--forcing me to operate this balancing act to near flawlessness.
This focused demand for perfection helps to consistently rank our paper at the top of the nation. My staff members and I spend hours evenly spacing designs, correcting grammar mistakes and making hundreds of other alterations that most will consider trivial. And when I toe the line against an opponent who greatly outweighs me on a Friday night, it is this same focused demand for perfection that separates me from the average football player. While perfection may not be attainable in my future, I know this pursuit will always keep me in the lab later, on the field longer or reaching further toward my goals.
Sitting in the solitary darkness of the lab gives me plenty of opportunity to wade through such thoughts. I stay in my home away from home for a few more minutes until a school custodian walking down to his car sees, from the corner of his eye, a glimpse of the last light on campus. He opens the door and it is clear from his expression that I have overstayed my welcome.
Practice is long over. My work in the lab is done for the time being. Now, it's time to start my homework.
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