Blog: Retrieving an outlet is good medicine for the soul (08/10/22)

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McCluer North quarterback Jordan Primm (with football) tries to get away from Parkway West defenders during a Suburban Conference Green Pool game earlier this season in Florissant. (Photo by Mike Bühler)

Over the past two years, I’ve talked about a lot of things in this space. But it seems a common topic has been the struggle to maintain my sanity during the pandemic and also watching the decline and eventual death of my grandmother.

Today, I’d like to take the space to talk about how finding one of my outlets has been great medicine for my mental health – and it’s like photographing high school football again.

First, we all need opportunities. Whether it’s a hobby, road trips, spending time with family and friends, or whatever, we all need to do something we enjoy, partly for us. to give something to look forward to and also to prevent life from being so difficult.

For me – and for many of us – these outlets have been reduced over the past two and a half years. And it made what is already a difficult time even more difficult to bear.

This is why the last few weeks have been particularly pleasant for me.

Admittedly, football photography is a bit different to me than it used to be. Because of my bad knees and other mobility issues, I take shots sitting behind the end zone now instead of wandering the sidelines. And since I usually work at the Daily American Republic’s sports desk on Friday nights, I mainly shoot games on Saturdays. Since most high school football teams in the area don’t play on Saturdays, I usually find myself driving through northern St. Louis County, where Saturday high school football is a longstanding tradition.

Am I complaining? No way.

First of all, I love driving, although I find driving on the freeway a bit nerve-wracking at times. It gives me a chance to think, clear my head, listen to sports radio, and even crank up some great music, whether it’s the Gaither Vocal Band or Iron Maiden.

Second, schools in North County (what many locals call North St. Louis County) have a lot of tradition. Hazelwood East High in Spanish Lake has won three state titles on the grill. McCluer North has made it to the state championship game four times. Riverview Gardens is my dad’s alma mater and has a state title on his resume.

Third, I was treated very well by coaches, staff and fans at games. Even better, I think I made a few new friends along the way – and that’s always a good thing.

Last but not least, it gave me a chance to start doing something I really love again. As rare as it has been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has done for my mental health what spinach does for Popeye. Yes, it often leaves me tired and sore the rest of the weekend. But it’s worth it.

In the end, after the misery of the past two and a half years, it’s nice to be able to do something I love again.

Mike Buhler is an editor for the Daily American Republic. Contact him at [email protected]

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