Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Real Inspiration

A story that hasn't been getting the attention it should is that of Sun Prairie High School basketball player Nick Noskowiak.  The senior guard is a Marquette University recruit and is considered one of the better players in the state this year.  But Noskowiak has missed the last six games for Sun Prairie--which had led to questions and rumors about his departure from the team.  Was there a rift with the coach?  Was he suspended for bad grades?  Drinking?  Drug use?  Sexual assault?  Was there an injury that he didn't want Marquette to know about?

Well, Noskowiak took to social media over the weekend to dispel all of those rumors and to announce that he is battling extreme depression.  Needless to say, this caught a lot of people who follow sports off guard.  When you think of depression in teenagers you picture the kids with no friends and who don't fit in--or the Emo kids whose embrace of the dark side of life gives them an identity--or the kids who get so wrapped up in their first girlfriend or boyfriend that when the relationship breaks off they believe they can't go on living anymore.

But Nick Noskowiak doesn't fit any of those stereotypes.  As a top-notch athlete, he likely is among the most popular kids in his school and is seen as a successful student with a great future ahead of him playing ball and going to school for free at a major university.  And yet, the depression is so debilitating that it keeps him not only off the basketball court--but also out of classes for days at a time.

And that is why more coverage should be afforded to this story--because the Nick Noskowiak situation could help a lot of other kids just like him around Wisconsin.  It could inspire other boys and girls who appear to "have it altogether" on the outside to tell their parents or a teacher or a friend that they are struggling with thoughts and feelings that make it difficult to function sometimes.  And it might just improve the acceptance in the high school culture of mental illness and the treatment of those suffering from depression.

Hopefully, Nick Noskowiak can get the help he needs to return to school and the basketball court as a fully-healthy young man--and to provide inspiration to kids in a way that goes beyond just putting a ball through a hoop.

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