by Antonio Yacono
Growing up in a military family, I found it hard to make friends. Some military families move constantly. Luckily, I only moved twice while I was in school. I started elementary school in Okinawa and moved to Germany in the middle fourth grade, then moved to Colorado right before freshman year.
In Okinawa, I had the coolest teacher who would never assign homework. I would have fun in the class all the time with my friends. After moving to Germany in the middle of fourth grade, it was hard to get to know anybody. There was the initial culture shock of being in Germany, but more than that school life got hard. The teacher I had was almost the opposite of the one in Okinawa. We did work all the time. More than the shock of a completely different culture, teacher, and moving in general, I had no friends.
Being shy, I found it hard to go out and talk to people. Luckily, two factors played into how I made my first friends. The first one was that it was a military community, so people were used to new people coming and going. The second factor was my love for sports. One day I was eating lunch and a group of kids sat down and talked to me. They saw that I had a Red Sox shirt on, so we talked baseball all day. We continued to see each other at lunch and recess, and I made my first friends in Germany. To this day, I am still best friends with one of them after all these years.
In the spring, they asked me to play baseball with them through the CYS (Child Youth Services) sports program. I made new friends around the league, and I was more outgoing. In the fall, I decided to play football. I met new people and made friends from there. Being more outgoing, I would approach people who had just moved, like me, and talk sports with them to get them to be more outgoing as well. Eventually, we would talk about video games and other hobbies we shared, realizing how similar we all are. After a while, more kids moved in, and some of my friends moved out, but I made some of my best friends from those I approached after they moved in.
After about four and a half years, in the summer right before freshman year, I moved to Colorado. It would be just like the move from Okinawa to Germany except I was going to attend a public school. For a while I was alone all the time and not really outgoing until I was approached by a group again. Ironically instead of being approached for wearing sports clothes, I was approached after attending football practice. My skills got people to talk to me, and we started off talking about sports. Eventually, I made my best friends from that group, and we talked about shared hobbies and hung out all the time. In the same way, I got comfortable and made friends and started to be more outgoing. I tried to talk to others who may have transferred. In doing so I made some more friends, just like I did in Germany.
My love for sports has helped me make friends that I don’t think I would have made otherwise. Whether it be my friends in Germany approaching me for my shirt, or my friends in Colorado who approached me because we played football together, my love for sports has made me some lifelong friends.