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Beyond the sports dream
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Dreams are realized all the time in athletics.

Just Monday, young baseball players realized theirs by being selected in the MLB draft and earning millions of dollars in signing bonuses.

Later this week, the dreams of more than a dozen hockey players will be reached when the Kings win the Stanley Cup.

While high school athletes dream of reaching the pros or of earning a college scholarship, unfortunately, those dreams don't always pan out.

As the MLB amateur draft continued Tuesday, it marks just one year since former Georgia Perimeter baseball player Kenneth Straus realized his dream and was picked by the Seattle Mariners. However, a little less than one year later, just one season into his career, he was released.

That quickly - the dream was over.

Even though it was short lived, the dream was still there. Straus was picked by a major league team.

He got the headlines. He got the hat. He got the contract.

He may have only played in a handful of professional games but he did something some players can never accomplish. He earned his dream.

However, is reaching your dream really the hardest part for a young athlete?

Granted I never played professionally, or even collegiately, but I'm answering no to the aforementioned question.

Each year, I report on dozens of athletes signing letters of intent to keep the dream alive in college. However, it's the handful of other athletes who I think are making the hardest decision; the decision of not keeping the athletic dream going, but doing the more difficult thing, choosing another dream.

Everywhere we look, we're told that living the millionaire life of an athlete is what we want. Sneaker contracts, fancy cars, etc. It's told to us every day, heck there are entire sections devoted to sports in the newspaper, so it must be achievable to be a mainstream athlete, right?

It seems that way when you're young.

What doesn't seem easy is deciding on something less glamorous. Say, going to class without the aspiration of making millions.

That's exactly what players such as Eastside's Amber Lafond has done.

Lafond was the Eastside soccer team's leading scorer. Not only that but she was a desired target of Division II and III soccer teams. All she had to do was sign her name and continue to keep the dream alive; the dream of winning titles, popularity and notoriety.

However, she made the difficult choice of a different path. She made the choice of choosing a dream beyond soccer, which most likely would have lasted four more years; if she was lucky, 10.

Instead, she chose a future that will last 30 or 40 more years and took an academic scholarship to the University of Georgia. Lafond is not the first to pick strong academics over athletics but nonetheless, I applaud the decision to choose the dream beyond sports.

The one not reported in the Sports section.