Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Student-Athlete Needs a Break

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a high school athlete. I play soccer in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. At my high school, there are three separate sports seasons. Since I already play in two of those seasons, I am pretty busy.

The other day, my father told me I should take up another sport next winter to keep fit. As much as I love working out and playing for a team, I kind of like the idea of having an off-season. I would like that time just to hang out after school instead of going from practice to practice. What do you think would be best for me? Is there a way I can convince my dad to have the winter sports season off next year? -- Overworked Athlete, Salisbury, Maryland

DEAR OVERWORKED ATHLETE: Being involved in sports every season keeps you focused and occupied, which is probably on your father’s mind. Your argument that you just want to hang out after school will not likely come as a welcome option for him, as "hanging out" can sometimes lead to undesirable activities. That is not to say that you will find yourself in trouble, but having idle time is not ideal for everyone, especially students.

That said, I see the value in having some downtime. The argument you may want to present to your father is that you would like that one off-season to be able to have more time for homework and a little time to spend with your friends. In truth, you probably will be able to enjoy a bit more rest and devote more quality time to your schoolwork, which is always good.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am currently working in the United Kingdom. My younger sister attends a university in the United States, and her college graduation is coming up. I really want to be there and was planning on making my attendance a surprise.

As she tells me the scheduled plans for graduation weekend, I am starting to think it may be best if I tell her I am coming. As much as I would love to see her face when I show up at the ceremony, I fear that there is too much planning that goes into the weekend, and that my showing up may cause her more stress. What do you think would be the best solution to my dilemma? -- Graduation Surprise, London

DEAR GRADUATION SURPRISE: Your instincts are on point. The last thing you want to do is add stress to your sister’s graduation experience. Chances are, she will be thrilled to know that you are coming.

What you should do is contact her right away and inform her of your intention to be there to celebrate with her on this very special weekend. Ask her if she can secure a ticket to the graduation for you and if you can participate in the various activities planned for the weekend. This is key, because often tickets are limited, and restaurants require reservations during this busy time.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)