With the 2020 National Signing Day rapidly approaching, I have seen several high school athletes make last-ditch efforts on social media to get their clips in front of coaches and recruiters from across the country. I enjoy seeing that passion come out of young student-athletes who do not want to see their time in their favorite sport come to an end but I hope these players know there are more options available than playing at the next level.

I will advocate for anyone who wants to put the time and effort into playing in college. I will not discourage any of them from trying to live out their dreams if that is what they feel like is the best option for them.

Whether you get the one offer you are looking for or not, it is not going to be the end for you. And if you do not get the chance to play in college, that does not have to be the end of your time in the sport you love.

In last week’s papers, my sports editor Lizi Arbogast wrote about how important it is for students to stay on top of their academics because you never know how quickly the sport can be taken away. That point is not debatable because we all know sports do not last forever but I will say no matter what takes you off the field, it does not have to take you away from the game.

I have always had that same passion for sports so to a certain extent, I understand what is driving each of these athletes to find any possible way to stay in the game. Fortunately for me, I never had to face a decision like that whether it was choosing between offers or taking a step back to a smaller school so I could continue playing the sport.

That choice was made for me. I have written before about the heart problems I have and I do not want to go into the full details again but I do want to reemphasize how those issues helped me get where I am today.

Getting to participate in sports was taken away from me but there was no way I was going to give up on the idea of being involved in sports one way or another. That passion drove me straight into the world of journalism and I found another way to contribute to the world I have always been a part of.

If you have a passion for football or softball or any sport, do not let a lack of offers stop you from staying in the game.

If you still want to go to college, figure out what career path will allow you to stay around the game even if you cannot be on the field. If you want to stay home after high school, local communities always need more youth coaches.

And if you don’t know what you want to do but you just love sports, ask me questions about being a writer. You get to travel and watch sports for a living while telling stories about some pretty great people along the way.

Based on the words and passion I have seen from athletes on social media, none of those ideas may seem appealing to you. If that is the case, do not stop chasing your dream but just know you have options. You do not need a college coach telling you your career in that sport is over because that will be up to you.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Tribune.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.