Scott Millard Christian Laettner

Scott Millard, Capital Journal Sports Reporter, poses for a photo with Duke legend Christian Laettner after the Laettner Basketball Camp put on by Sacred Hoops in Pierre.

Thanksgiving is a lot of things.

It’s a time to get together with family and friends and eat more food than should be humanly possible. It’s a time to watch football and holiday basketball tournaments on television. It’s a time to hunt if you haven’t yet. Most importantly of all, it’s a time to reflect on the things you’re thankful for.

What am I thankful for? I’m glad you asked. I’ll let you know just a few of the things I’m thankful for because the full list is pretty long.

I’m thankful to still be alive. A couple of months ago, I went to the emergency room for a panic attack. I’ve had panic attacks before on a couple of occasions, but this one seemed more serious than the ones in the past. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for a good amount of my life. I was considering leaving Pierre for opportunities elsewhere, and that idea scared me. I didn’t want to truly leave Pierre because I’ve become way too connected to these kids that I cover. Anxiety and depression set in and took a strong hold on me, getting the better of me for once. So I went to the hospital and sought help.

I’m thankful for the friends I have that joined me at the hospital that day. They really didn’t have to be there for me, but they were. I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t sleep. One friend brought me Burger King for breakfast, which really helped. I got the medications I needed that day and, also, an invitation to a friend’s house to watch college football games on television that day. I finally fell asleep on my friend’s couch, and that’s something I’ll never forget.

I’ve been thankful every day since that I get to cover the great kids that I do. Whether they win or lose, I hope they know how proud I am of them. Because I’m so close to a lot of them in age (I’ll turn 29 next year), I feel like some of them look at me like I’m a cool older brother. Trust me, I’m not as cool as they think I am, but they make me feel like the guy in the Dos Equis commercial every time I see them.

I’m thankful for all of the coaches that I get to report on, and the teachers and athletic directors that we have in this area. A great kid doesn’t become a great kid without a little help. It’s teachers and coaches that help mold these young minds and young people into what they can be. They see the same potential for good that I do. Teaching is a thankless profession, and I don’t think that teachers and coaches get the proper appreciation that they deserve.

I’m thankful for all of the parents and families of the athletes that I report on. The molding of a great student and athlete starts at home, and I get to cover the best kids in the state. No one can change my mind on that. On top of what they do for their athletes, the communities that I know support the paper, which, in turn, means they support me. That’s a kind of support I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to pay back.

I’m thankful I got to meet Christian Laettner, one of my favorite basketball players of all time, a couple of weeks ago. That was the thrill of a lifetime for me. I’ve been a Duke fan since I was five and meeting him was just awesome. Thank you Sacred Hoops for making that happen.

I’m thankful for cereal. A lot of you in this community might have seen my Scotty’s Crunchy Critiques videos circulating on Facebook. Trust me when I say that cereal is a great thing to eat for breakfast. Part of the reason I say that is because it involves milk, which, in turn, means I’m supporting the agriculture industry. Farming is another thankless profession. I shudder to think of a nation where farmers and ranchers aren’t around. It’s because of them that we have food, clothing and other things; not because of stores. Thank a farmer after you read this.

Another thank you has to go to the firefighters, police, doctors, nurses and community members that keep our communities safe. We all have the ability to go crazy and commit crimes or become victims to our own sicknesses, but they make sure we don’t use that ability. Someone might have to buy them a Blizzard at Dairy Queen this week.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you that are reading this right now. Whether you’re an athletic trainer taking care of an athlete, an owner of a business that I might frequent or just a person that I haven’t even met yet, you’re making an impact on my life. You don’t realize it, but sometimes it is the people that you don’t even know that impact you more than those you do know. I feel like I’m in a better place mentally and physically. I’ve lost some weight, gotten myself into much better shape and become a better person overall. I try to cancel out the negativity that seems to be prevalent in this world by focusing on the positive. Part of me being a better person can be attributed to you, the reader. Thank you for motivating me to be a better writer and to be a better person.

Now, pat yourself on the back, pour yourself some cereal, eat some turkey or just do whatever it is you do. We can all make a difference in this world. Thank you for showing me that.

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