“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
Pope John XXIII
Hey y’all! Hope here, with a question and a little hopeservation about our kids, sports and being their parent…
So I just returned from our annual summer vacation, and jumped right back into the summer swing of life with none other then? You guessed it…VOLLEYBALL!!! When it got me to thinking, do you remember what you did two years ago today?
It turns out, I remember EXACTLY what I did. I sat and I watched. Just like I have countless hours before today. None of it has to do with me…and yet I watch as though my life depends on it. Suspended in time and emotion. Between that place of motherhood, inner coach, cheerleader, worshipper, critic and admirer. Praying to God and the Universe my silently whispered prayers. Staying relaxed, cool and calm on the outside, while internally the brain, heart and eyes are twitching at what seems an immeasurable pace. Casually watching…looking for the slight signs you have come to recognize. There is no room for ego in this, that got checked a long time ago. So you sit, in silence. This is what you DO…and this is what I did amongst a small pool of other parents doing exactly the same…as I watched my oldest daughter at an open try-out for college volleyball. These are the hours you try not to agonize over, yet you do, not for yourself but for your child.
Fast forward two full years from that moment, my oldest is now signed to a small Florida State College playing at a NJCAA D2 program and finished her first year. She was recruited and had offers ranging from NCAA D3, NAIA D1 and down, everywhere from Connecticut to Florida. Recruiting and offers comes in all shapes and sizes, and I’ve come to learn, no two situations are the same. She had verbally committed to a university program out of state that has won their conference two years running, with a nationally renown phenomenal coach and all around great campus. The makings of a student athlete’s university experience every sport mom hopes to see their child attending and playing yet before signing on the dotted line, she decided she didn’t want to move that far from home.
Turns out, while she ultimately picked a much smaller college and less competitive volleyball program, it’s been a fabulous experience FOR HER. It has been the perfect balance as she took her first fledgling steps from home.
Because that’s just it…at the end of the day, while it is a dream, it is also a dream balanced with reality to become EACH person’s GOAL!
Now I have two daughters who play volleyball and it turns out, it is both their goal to play at the college level. A goal they have poured so much in to, somehow it became my goal too, in that I support their efforts 100%. Between the two of them I have been doing this for over 17 collective years and I know there is an end at some point, but until that time comes, if they are going…I am going.
Whatever a college student’s home life and background is like, every student athlete has SOME one that supported them in developing into the young man or woman that he or she has become. These people serve as anchors for students as they go off to college. They have also served as encouragement for the students to follow their dreams and be the best versions of themselves they can.
Now this isn’t some misguided, living through my children vicariously type of thing. Personally, I never actually went in to any of this with this vision. Yet, it evolved and now that it is here – I find myself serving as my daughters’ anchors, as I encourage them to follow their dreams, and do the best they can to reach their GOALS!
My oldest was blessed enough to take her volleyball to the next level. Hopefully, she will pass this torch on. Wonderfully enough, she is her younger sister’s biggest supporter and champion. She knows what it takes and she wants it for her sister too. There is a HUGE sense of pride as she watches her sister develop and cheers her on.
As she gets closer to her second college season, she has come to the realization that she may wish to continue playing. What started as a two year tenure at a state college is flying by…now she finds herself more emotionally ready to spread her wings and look at programs outside of the state. It’s her dream, her vision, her goal. If she doesn’t want to quit, neither will I. I will hold on to her goal as long as she holds on because I welcome her journey of discovery!
And so in some way, I will sit all over again…only this time with the support of her current college coach by my side…and I will attempt to agonize less AND continue to TRUST this process!
But I wonder, what must it really feel like to constantly and knowingly put yourself in these high pressure moments where your every move is judged, critiqued, and compared to another young female student athlete? To constantly allow yourself to be this emotionally and physically vulnerable to rejection at an age when most young females are hyper sensitive to any criticisms or even potential rejection?! To have the questions running through your mind, “Am I good enough? Was my athletic prowess enough? Do I have the GPA, is my SAT enough? Did I do enough to catch the eye of a coach?” Blah, blah, blah, the seeds of self doubt could be ENDLESS!
This is powerful stuff going on in the brains of our young ladies, layered on top of their already developing mind, body & soul. For these young ladies to love and have this much passion for a sport, (or anything) they willingly put themselves out there. Knowing that the odds are NOT in their favor. You have to be made of pretty tough stuff – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and you have to have quite a bit of support backing you up to take those hits and shut that inner voice of self doubt down. To keep feeling good about getting up, dusting yourself off in the face of defeat and saying, “Yeah! Let’s do it AGAIN!” You have to learn at an early age, that you don’t have to be PERFECT but you do have to trust yourself to lean in, as you push past your weakest moments.
In fact statistics across the United States indicate only 5.8% of all female high school age volleyball players will go on to play the next level – that’s at ANY level. 5.8%! That means 94.2% either chose to go a different route in life, weeded themselves out, or simply didn’t cut it. Let’s just run that through our brains for a moment and while scholarships are nice, believe it or not, that’s not the actual goal.
The REAL goal is to have GOOD humans, that eventually become confident, productive, happy and accomplished citizens contributing to society. Who are able to lean on themselves and their faith, allow it to support them through the rough patches that will surely come and trust they can handle anything! To truly know they have the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual strength to manage and guide their thoughts and behaviors in an effort to turn their dreams into reality!
This is the thought that occurs to me almost everyday, and so I tell my girls – “there will always be someone smarter, faster, and more skilled and then someone who isn’t, in ALL of LIFE.” Of course I go on to say, “yet you can’t sweat that, you can admire one and help the other…but ultimately, this is what you’ve trained for…and you know what to do. You go out there and leave it all on the court. Visualize your goals, manifest your destiny – you got this! If it isn’t this time, it’s okay! Everything happens for a reason.”
After all, I have learned to trust in divine order – for myself and for them – even though I cannot always see it from my vantage point, I have faith in the BIG PICTURE! So yup…this is part of the teaching process too.
Now that I’ve been through the athletic recruiting and college admission process with one of my girls, I’ve told them that whatever college & program they are blessed enough to hopefully end up at, no matter what – they will get a good education, and be better for it all because ultimately, it is up to them to take advantage of the opportunity they have earned and been given! Because THAT court, THIS game, THEIR skills is no different then what they need in REAL LIFE!
”Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward.” – Hebrews 10:35
Until then, as long as they’re in it, I’m in it…
“How To Be An Effective Sport Parent – Do’s & Don’t”
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As always…Go in love,