So often we look to people that wreck their lives abusing alcohol and then become sober to provide insight into abating such issues as underage drinking or drinking and driving. Instead, I thought it might be interesting to hear from someone that navigated the vicissitudes of high school without using alcohol.
Tyler Blaise has the rugged looks you might imagine finding in a football quarterback. In fact, Tyler did quarterback the Moriah football team that went undefeated and to the state finals where they experienced their first loss of the year. Tyler is a member of the National Honor Society and has also participated in a variety of community events including a stint as Santa Claus at the Lee House.
I asked Tyler if there was a conscious moment where he decided to maintain his sobriety.
"I learned early on in life by watching other people that alcohol can make your life difficult," he said. "I was told by my parents, teachers, my Uncle Don and Aunt Barbara to be careful around alcohol."
I asked Tyler if it had been difficult to maintain a non-use posture while many of his peers were using alcohol.
"Sure, I have been tempted many times to just be part of what was happening," he said. "I have always taken sports very seriously; I never wanted to let my team or myself down for any reason, including alcohol. Sports gave me an important reason not to drink."
"You always have a choice; you don't have to follow what everyone else is doing," he added. "My real friends will support me no matter what my decision is. Some of my friends have invited me to use alcohol at different times but I always brushed it off as a joke. People know me and at this point and it is not a big deal."
"As a sophomore in high school, I lost a close friend in a car accident. It suddenly dawned on me that I too could lose my life, my future. I feel fortunate for what I have accomplished and I don't want anything to ruin my future plans."
I asked Tyler what advice he would offer to a teenager entering high school, reminding him that not everyone is the captain of the football team, super popular and gifted with his likeable personality.
"No matter where you find yourself, never stop believing in yourself," Tyler said. "If you consistently do this, others will believe in you too and you will make good things happen."
I asked Tyler what the high points of his life so far were.
"I would say quarterbacking my football team at the finals at Syracuse University has to be right up there. Seeing my baby sister the day after she was born was unforgettable and with graduation around the corner, a sense that I am starting something new and important."
"My biggest regret is that I did not study more," he added. "My generation has been handed some pretty big challenges and I hope that we are up to those challenges."
My impression is that Tyler Blaise is truly a likeable and accomplished young person. The adults that know him support him and are confident that he will be a success in life. His words of advice about believing in ourselves are wise words that we might all take to heart. He mentioned playing in the "dome" at Syracuse as a life highlight even though his team lost. I would speculate that Tyler is one of those resilient people that can often see the positive in most situations; a powerful life skill that will serve him well in future endeavors.
Tyler has demonstrated that it is possible to be really cool and not use alcohol; no small feat given the immense pressure to drink in high school! As I walked down the hall with Tyler, many underclassmen walked by and spoke to him. Tyler enjoys an obvious and palpable respect in his school. From what I know of Tyler Blaise, it seems like he has earned it. Remember, all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org