High school athletes really do lead demanding lives.

I spent all day in school, doing band and chorus and quiz bowl and every activity I could get my hands on. Then I would go straight to practice, another two to three hour chunk out of my day.

Then there were games. I often would head straight to the gym or straight to the bus from whatever class was last, maybe having enough time to run to Subway before.

Game nights, track meet nights, whatever it was took up the entirety of the evening.

It wasn’t always pleasant either. There were times my blood sugar would drop (being a Type I diabetic) and I would desperately have to find a bag of Skittles right before we lined up for the anthem. There was the time I tore my hamstring on the curve of a 200 and I didn’t want to talk to a human being for days, let alone the three-hour ride home from Des Moines. Even something as simple as another loss on the volleyball court or a certain amount of turnovers was enough to make me sour.

And looking back now, there is one thing I took for granted: no matter what was happening, my parents were in the stands.

I wish I was as appreciative then as I am now in retrospect. My mother would teach all day and head to the gym, spending more time with the students she just left in order to be at every single contest. My father would work all day and commute back from the Quad Cities or Cedar Rapids, and I don’t know if he was ever late for a thing.

Even my grandparents would be there, sitting in the top row of what was then called Central Catholic Auditorium every single time, even traveling hours and hours to see my games. In fact, they still do the same for my cousins and you can find them at all the Easton Valley games nowadays.

Especially track season, my parents would brave cold April temps or incoming downpours and be there at the rail with a stop watch and the program able to tell me every single split.

My mom always had an extra bag of Skittles in her purse, too.

My high school experience would have been so different if I wasn’t lucky enough to hear my parents at every game, or look up and see them in the stands.

They drove hundreds of miles, sat in dozens of gyms, ran me to hundreds of practices and offseason games. It means the world to me.

I’m lucky enough to work in an area where I get to see this every single day. Our schools have some of the best supportive families and it’s very nostalgic to see.

This is a thank you to my parents and grandparents and to all of the parents, grandparents, and other friends and family who do the same. The ones who take their Friday nights to sit in bleachers, who travel an hour or two to see a volleyball match and who run from spot to spot to see their cross country runner as many times as they can during the race.

Your support means more to the athletes than can ever be put into words.

Carie Kuehn is the Clinton Herald Sports Editor and can be reached at ckuehn@clintonherald.com or on Twitter and Facebook @CarieKuehnNews