If I had to describe my childhood in one word it would be SPORTS. I was born to a Physical Education teacher and a sports fanatic. They had me throwing softballs, swinging a tennis racket, and bouncing a basketball by the age of three. High school and college games were often a family outing where even grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were in attendance. I did every youth recreation sport available and had weekly private tennis lessons for many years. I played four sports in high school and earned the coveted “White Sweater Athletics Award”. I even played basketball and tennis for one season each at the community college level. As an adult, this sports life morphed into training for 5K races and triathlons and doing Crossfit.
So naturally when I had kids of my own, I got them into sports. My oldest daughter, Breanna, tried lots of sports, but she just wasn’t into any of them. She was more into art, fashion, dance and cheerleading type activities. I struggled with this and while I supported her choices, I really had a hard time relating to her. I didn’t know any other life than one dominated by sports. When she went to middle school in 6th grade, many members of her new peer group played volleyball. I was pleasantly surprised when she decided she wanted to play too. That decision was the beginning of her playing volleyball year-round on the school team as well as on a traveling club team. We spent many weekends driving all over southern California to volleyball tournaments and countless evenings transporting her to and from practices. When she graduated from high school she continued playing in college at the Division 3 level where she has earned all Conference Honors every year.
I’m blogging about her today because tonight is her college senior game. The last home game where they recognize the seniors on the team. This night is surreal for me. My baby is all grown-up, about to graduate from college and start her life. Her eleven years of playing volleyball is coming to an end. Like many lifetime athletes, the end of competitive sports is a big change and can be hard emotionally. I’m glad now that she wasn’t the diehard sports enthusiast I was. While she definitely loved volleyball and I’m sure she will miss it, it hasn’t dominated her life. She has many other interests and talents and being an athlete is just one part of the wonderful young woman she is.
I truly believe that sports, especially team sports are very beneficial to children, but if there is anything to take from this story it’s to expand the horizons of children and expose them to everything, not just things you are into.