Athletes produce athletic kids. Right? I’m not so sure… but let me [sports dad] start at the beginning. Six very short years ago, my wife announced that we were pregnant. Awesome. As if that weren’t exciting (translate: STRESSFUL) enough, she couldn’t wait to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. HA! I already knew…
Stats don’t lie
My grandfather has always joked about having 5 daughters. He says, “Jeremie, even our dog was a girl.”
So I knew that I was destined to have a daughter first. But I went along to our big ‘reveal’ appointment.
Surprise – It’s a girl!
My wife was so excited. I was too but all I remember was being suddenly so hot that I needed to leave the room.
I purposely did NOT bring a soccer ball around for the next several years…
My wife would ask if I wanted our daughter to play sports and I would answer, “No – I want her to be academic like her mom” [what? I honestly meant that as a compliment] or “No – I want her to do what she wants to do without pressure.” And I honestly believed that.
What to do when they’re terrible
Fast forward to last year, age 5. My oldest daughter swears that she IS a soccer player; not wants to be one but IS already one by nature of being my daughter.
Having watched her develop as a young girl I knew coordination did not seem to be her strong suit but I was excited enough to think ‘maybe’ it could happen.
So we allowed her to play with a great coach who was about the development of confidence.
I went to the first game with half-excitement and half-dread. SHE WAS TERRIBLE! I mean the worst stereotype of every soccer player’s nightmare – she chased butterflies and ran from the ball. She skipped EVERYWHERE. She didn’t listen to a word I said…
But what she DID do was persevere; she had an awesome attitude. Even when the other team scored she was so excited that someone did well that she would smile really big and give us a ‘thumbs up’ like “Hey dad! Did you see that? That girl did awesome!”
When her teammates were upset that they lost, she would focus on cheering them up and would say to me, “That’s okay; it’s more important that I keep a good attitude no matter what!”
The real talent
After her first full year of playing, I learned to not only appreciate her awesome attitude, but I really began to see the impact she was making on and off the field as a person.
It honestly chokes me up as I think about her response to life and people’s response to her. Talk about a reality check about what’s important; I know there is no better gift than that…
Toward the end of the Spring season she suddenly became a different player on the field, real sudden like and independent of our being aware of it really.
She became more aggressive, would actually kick the ball, and displayed a speed that would make ANY athlete or non-athlete proud (oh, and did I mention she was playing a year up with the top tier in rec soccer? Sorry – parent moment!). Although it wasn’t planned it did make her differences stick out even more.
The most important things a sports dad can teach
I don’t know what the future holds for my daughter [especially as each day she changes her mind about being a doctor or a scientist or a chef]. Her drive to do well and have a spirit of excellence in all things is growing.
I do want to close with this word of advice though…
This soccer season as you’re busy helping your children identify their goals and pursue them, remember that the most important concepts we’re teaching them is development of their character, drive and attitude.
The cool thing is that maybe you’ll get lucky like I did and in your efforts to teach, instruct and guide, you’re kids will teach you something too, just like mine did.
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