The list of Charlotte area teenagers that have had their lives changed, ruined or even lost due to poor decisions is quite long.  Thousands of kids that at one time had the world right in their hands and ready for the taking are struggling to make sense of the position they are now in and how they got there.


The Spring Break / Summer period seems to always change lives, hopefully this year will be a little different. Over the last thirteen years, I have penned a few columns about how small decisions can affect the entire life of a teenager. This message always seems to ring a little more clear around Spring Break and Prom Season.  Regardless of the reason, the newspapers and internet are filled with stories of teenage tragedies right now. It seems like every day we can find a story somewhere in our country of a teenager losing their life due to a poor decision.


Locally, we have seen car accidents, drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides and other tragedies take the lives of high school students over the last year as well. These children’s parents have gone from planning graduations and summer vacations to planning funerals. They will never get to experience the thrill of graduation night or the excitement of moving a child into their freshman dorm.


We also tend to hear about more and more teenage deaths caused by alcohol use this time of the year. Every spring break is filled with stories of students falling to their deaths from upper level hotel balconies or stepping in front of traveling vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. The common theme we often find in these tragedies usually lead back to one poor decision. Unfortunately teenagers have not developed the skills needed to make all the right decisions. They don’t have the life skills their parents have learned over the years. Simply put, teenagers are not as smart as they think they are. All teenagers need the guidance of loving parents, but even then, many are going to go around that advice and some are going to learn very hard lessons or even lose their life trying to make decisions for themselves without listening to the important advice given by most parents.


The point of this column is simply to ask all teenagers to take an extra breath this spring before making a bad decision. Think back on what you should do in each situation and then take another moment to think about what could happen if things don’t  go as planned. Think about the repercussions of trying to drive 65 on a 45 mph road. Think about what could happen if you look down to send a text message and another car suddenly stops in front of you. Think about what could happen if you drink underage and then decide to drive a car or what could happen if you get in a car with someone that has been drinking. Trust me when I tell you, nothing good can come from any of these poor decisions.


Such a huge majority of the students in South Charlotte are headed to college, many on athletic and academic scholarships. I ask all my teenage readers, Do you really want to risk losing what you have worked so hard for? Do you really want to take a chance at getting hurt, killed or hurting or killing someone else? Is it really that cool, if things go sideways and you end up in trouble or even worse, dead? Can you live with yourself if you survive and your best friend doesn’t? These are all real life scenarios that play themselves out in different cities across our country on a daily basis.


This is my personal plea to all my student readers. Take an extra minute to listen to your parents advice. Believe it or not, they actually know what they are talking about and want to have you around for a long time. They want to see you graduate from college, start a family and bring the Grandchildren over for the holidays. It can happen to you. Be safe, think twice and Good luck the rest of the school year and summer.


Tripp Roakes


South Charlotte Sports Report