Fight On!

Does your child play a sport?

Our Friday evenings are filled with football games. Our oldest plays mostly center and on the offensive line for his team. Going to his games is a mix of nostalgia (my high school experience going to games), nerves (still getting to know parents of the other players), and stress (for my son and the other players safety, how the game will go, etc.).

When I was in high school, our team was good. It was fun to see them win, it stung when they lost, but socializing with friends was the best part. Fast forward to now, my son’s team did well enough to win their division last year (moving them up), and now getting pummeled every game this year — so painful. Yet, while defeat doesn’t feel good, and can shake your confidence, the kids seem to be taking it in stride, and the school community more focused on supporting the players and just being happy to be together.

My son’s coach’s motto is “fight on!” It’s been the motto of the team for many years. And while it’s focused on the game of football it certainly applies to life. Keep going. Get back up. Try again. Keep fighting. Fight on!

My son’s team is being put to the test this year. Continued losses make it hard to get back up, but they support each other, want to get the best out of each other, and show each other they have given it their all. It might not be reflected in the final score of the game, but in their resilience in the face of defeat these kids are learning, they’re winning.

How does your child handle defeat? What positive impact comes from it?

We will be celebrating an older family member’s milestone birthday next week, so I will be off, but back the following.

Dreams Dashed

Have you ever had a dream dashed?

When I was young I swam competitively and loved it. I won most races and had my sights on being an Olympic swimmer — I had my heart set on it. I didn’t fully understand the investment of time or money that goes into making it to the Olympics, I figured if I continued to compete at the level I was it would just happen.

My family moved when I was 10 to a town that didn’t have a swim team with 30 miles of it so my Olympic dreams were dashed. I can recall being very upset with my parents that they didn’t realize the impact to me. Of course, my parents probably realized that they wanted to support me, but weren’t willing to let my love of sport guide what and where our family went next. My parents were more fully forgiven when I joined masters swimming (competitive swimming for adults) many years later and learned I had strong upper body strength but lacked the kicking strength needed to be at an elite level. In hindsight, my parents probably saved me a lot of grief, though I have wondered how far I would have gone if I’d have continued to swim in my youth.

My oldest has begged us to play tackle football since he was very young. We have said no, repeatedly, knowing the dangers of head trauma and how dangerous the sport can be. Our son never wavered. He would pitch us on why he should play, what he’d miss out on if he didn’t, and I have to admit I understood (my inner swimmer, in particular ) where he was coming from. He put a lot of effort into conditioning, even during the pandemic, and when they finally allowed students to do sports, we allowed him to join the team (with caveats, of course. A concussion will take him off the team).

He was nervous and excited about starting football. They practice daily and their first scrimmage is coming up. They are figuring out what positions the kids will play at and that has created a fracture in my son’s dreams of being a star football player. He’s played quarterback and wide receiver in flag football — very successfully in both positions. He’s grown though, and is more muscular now. He doesn’t have the arm for quarterback yet for the high school ball, isn’t running as fast as he used to and can block, but is up against guys twice his weight. After practice he came home defeated. “I suck,” he commented. “I don’t think they’re even going to play me.” I could see how devastated he was. As a parent, it’s one of those moments you wish you could take on your child’s pain for them. I reminded him that he is growing and the timing might not being aligning for him to be in ideal shape for any position now, but to keep working at it, and by fall, when sports resume, he’ll be ready. That didn’t seem to help. My husband also spoke to him and reminded him the importance of getting back up and trying again. My son’s dreams of being an star athlete are currently dashed, but we’ll continue to encourage him to not give up on himself so easily. This is a time of growth for him (mentally and physically). To see what he’s made of and capable of. I hope he sticks with this dream and sees it through and doesn’t look back one day and wonder what if.

How are you helping your child follow their dream? How are you helping them when their dream is in jeopardy?