Editor's note: When he retired four years ago in 2008, Bob Frisk's annual "letter to my grandson" retired with him ... until now. Frisk, a tireless advocate of high school sports for 50 years at the Daily Herald, has returned to pen one more advice letter to his grandson Mark as he starts his freshman year in Madison, Wis. When he's not tracking his grandson's journey through life, you can still find Frisk patrolling the sidelines of high school events this fall.
Good morning, grandson. Good morning, high school freshman.
I still can't believe it. I can't believe you're 14 and officially enrolled as a freshman at Madison (Wis.) West High School.
It's been some time -- four years to be exact -- since I used the pages of the Daily Herald to write you a personal letter. Those annual letters all started on Feb. 20, 1998, when your picture first appeared in one of my columns, 11 days after you were born. For 10 more years, Daily Herald readers got to know you on these pages and saw your picture each year as you matured.
When I retired in December 2008, the column letters stopped. I honored the definition of retirement and stopped writing except for my annual best sports quotes column at the end of each year.
As those four years passed, Mark, I was pleased at how many people asked about you. Many wondered why I didn't update your progress in the Herald. They thought the perfect time would be when you entered high school because I had spent my entire professional newspaper life of 50 years dedicated to reporting on our schools.
That's why I wanted to write you today as you get settled in as a freshman at Madison West, home of the maize-and-blue Regents.
I am often asked if you will participate in sports in high school. Growing up, you certainly weren't pushed into anything by your parents (Susan and Tom) or gramps, but we were excited to sit in the stands and watch you develop into a fine young athlete, particularly in baseball and basketball.
You just finished a wonderful summer of baseball, and if the readers will please forgive my obnoxious bragging, nobody will ever forget the magical night in June when you had a homer, 2 doubles and a single and struck out 14 batters in pitching 7 innings.
I don't know what lies ahead for you in sports at the high school level, but whatever you decide to do is fine with me and your parents. We just want you to enjoy the total high school experience. I guarantee you will never forget the next four years as you go on in life. High school is incredibly special.
I hope you don't mind your 76-year-old grandfather passing along some thoughts about your freshman year. I think I have some credibility because I certainly have seen enough freshman classes come and go since I was a lowly frosh at Arlington High School in September 1950.
Remember, Mark, that everything is there in high school if you want it. It's up to you to reach out and grab it, starting with these first days of your first year. Each day will never be repeated. It is unique and packed with opportunities.
Your obligation as you start high school is to take advantage of every second, to make full use of your talents, to never do less than your best.
Letting life just happen is a formula for failure. You need to decide what you want for yourself and for all who will be affected by your life.
Then you must outline a plan of action that will bring your goals to reality.
Be a dreamer and dream bold dreams. Don't be apprehensive. Don't be afraid to fail.
Remember, you fell down the first time you walked.
I want you to be enthusiastic as you walk the halls of your high school. You must have the energy and the spirit to achieve, and when you mix enthusiasm with your dreams, you are on your way to having a successful high school experience. Once you have set your course, then charge forward.
Be a leader, be courageous, believe in yourself, and be confident in your abilities.
There is such a marvelous opportunity in front of you.
The high school experience is like an unwritten book, and you are the author. The challenge for every incoming freshman is to fill that book's pages with success and happiness and make it a best seller for four exciting years.
Mark, I have always believed that to get anywhere in this world you have to know someone important.
You have to know yourself.
You do make a difference.
Welcome to high school.