The end of May is an emotional time for many high school seniors and their families, as for many of them it is the end of their athletic careers.

Only 2 percent of all high school athletes go on to play at the college level. That means millions of high school seniors have played their last competitive contest for their school.

Many have been active in their sports and other general activities since the age of 4 or 5. I have asked 10- and 11-year olds countless times what they want to do when they grow up. Many times, the answer has been to be a professional athlete. Nearly all want to continue their sport through high school and college.

At age 17 or 18, reality begins to set in for 98 percent of them. Their athletic career is ended at graduation from high school. It leaves behind something they loved and worked very hard to attain success.

For those seniors, their dreams to become a Division I athlete and professional are over and life takes a new twist. Instead it is time to prepare for new challenges as adult life begins.

But all the life lessons learned while competing in school does pay off and assist with attaining other successes in life. Some of the greatest moments remembered while in school were those shared with teammates. Even at a 50-year class reunion, those memories flood back with experiences shared by former teammates, coaches and teachers.

Graduating seniors have not yet realized that a strike out on one at-bat, and a hit to drive in the winning run on the very next one, hitting the last shot to win a game, or making a tackle to save the game, are all experiences that carry through the rest of their lives.

The achievements gained through extracurricular activities are experiences that will serve you throughout your life. You will remember the coach who helped you become a little better than you thought you could be. You will also remember a coach who did not make a positive difference in your life, which will teach you how to avoid making the same mistake with someone else.

In a team sport, you learn to work hard for both personal and team goals and to sacrifice for the good of the team. It is important to learn how to win with class. To lose is never fun but it is important to learn how to lose with class. The reward from losing is the lesson learned in how to get right back up and try again.

High school sports and activities prepare you for winning and losing. Trust those lessons and remember them as you go through life. Sooner or later you will be rewarded for your effort.

The saying that high school is one of the hardest times and yet one of the greatest times of your life is very true. People involved in all occupations like to hire people who have been a member of a team because it is a skill set that is an important ingredient in achieving success.

One of the greatest quotes of all time comes from the great Vince Lombardi, who stated, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society and civilization work.”

We all go to high school to learn academics, but high school sports teach how to compete in a positive and constructive way. The trait of being a good competitor is priceless. Good luck to all 2018 graduating seniors. Take your positive high school experiences out into the world and make a difference.

• This week’s quote, from the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, says it all: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.