THE BLOG
02/12/2014 12:15 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Learning to Walk, Throw and Love

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by Noah Douglass

I learned to walk again at 10, became a receiver at 14 and found a new love at 17. I love the challenges of discovering talents. Yet, for me, pain often precedes a good outcome.

The searing pain in my lower stomach forced me awake at 6:00 every morning. The pain wasn't even the worst part of it. I was 10-years-old and could not walk. I sat up and placed my feet on the floor but kept my hands placed on the hospital bed to serve as a platform. I made an effort to move one leg in the direction of the water but lacked the strength and coordination. I used every ounce of energy I had to return to my bed and began to cry almost instantly. The pain from the surgery was excruciating and I was helpless.

Most of my happiness came through sports. In fact, I was on the basketball court with my dad when I was hit with the pain in my stomach that led me to the hospital for the removal of my appendix. After surgery, I spent seven long days learning how to walk and a lesson about optimism that remains with me today. I forced a positive outlook to get through each step over that week. Three years later, I carried that attitude to the football field as I became a receiver for the St Francis DeSales Stallions. Initially, I was frustrated as I dropped many balls. Yet I remembered what it took to take those few steps out of the hospital bed.

Junior Year: I am expecting a lot more playing time when another completely different problem arose so similar in severity to not being able to walk. My father's new job means I am leaving the Stallions in Columbus, Ohio for a team I did not know in Montclair, New Jersey. I felt choked in the 4th quarter by the move.

My first day at Montclair High was going to be my last. Or at least, that's what I told myself. After school, I was going to get my belongings together, hop on a flight, and return to my real home in Ohio. I was going to return to my friends, my football team, my house, and resume life there as if nothing happened. I would daydream about this fantasy through each class but unfortunately obvious questions such as "hey, you're the new kid?" snapped me back into reality.

My love for the sport overshadowed my defeated outlook as I caught an interception during the first day of football practice. Like learning to walk and becoming a receiver, my optimism propelled me to adapt to a new home.

At first, I was going to write my essay on learning how to walk at age 10. Then I thought about telling the story of my football team winning the state championship this year. After I settled on writing about the similarities of learning how to walk at 10 and becoming a receiver at 14, I decided to expand the topic to include my steamy affair. I hated her. I liked her. Now I can't live without her--writing.

I've always had an interesting relationship with her. There would be times throughout my years of school where I absolutely dreaded the sight of a pen and paper. Now sitting down and letting my thoughts run wildly on paper comes easily and I actually feel great while doing it!

It started in my junior year at the new school I dreaded. There I changed my feelings about writing forever. It started in my 8th period class, no, with my 8th period teacher Mr. Aquavia who inspired the change in those feelings forever. He is arguably one of the best teachers I've had and he constantly pushed me to be a better writer. He allowed me to see that writing is simply a way of expressing your ideas on paper. Seeing literature in this perspective intrigued me and I often found myself tagging along after class to perfect papers and strengthen my relationship with my new friend, my new love, Writing.

Now in my senior year, English is my favorite subject. I never thought I would find a new love at Montclair High School, after I spent months dreading the move here. Yet, for me, a little pain often means something great is on its way into my life.

Noah Douglass, a freshman at Syracuse University, is a 2013 graduate of Montclair High School.