Growth Spurts: For Love of the Game(s)
I played softball in second through twelfth grades, basketball in third through eighth grades, and volleyball in seventh through twelfth grades. (I ran track in seventh grade, too, but that was a terrible experience. I hate running but somehow got talked into doing it.) My sisters, brother, and I all played various sports during our growing-up years, primarily because of my father’s athletic influence on us. Three of my siblings even went on to play on college teams.
Athletics always played an important role in my family. Both of my grandfathers played Minor League baseball. My father, who was a star basketball player in high school, continued to play (and often show off) in church basketball leagues as an adult. He also played in community softball leagues, and I have fond memories of going to watch his games. Daddy often coached my siblings and my athletic teams over the years. He also taught my brother how to play golf; they are both extremely talented golfers and regularly compete in tournaments. Even though my mother was not an athlete herself, she strongly supported and encouraged all of our endeavors.
The athletic tradition now continues in the next generation of my family. My children are each involved in sports, and my husband (a former college baseball player) loves to coach their teams. All of my nieces and nephews play sports, too, and some of their parents are their coaches. And although my brother does not yet have children of his own, he works as an assistant golf pro and gets to pass along his talents and knowledge to others as he instructs them in their golf game.
My youngest sister has recently rekindled her love of basketball–and competition–by joining a recreation league. Oh yes–the competitive gene runs dominantly in our family. This is both good and bad, I guess. But let’s be honest–it’s way more fun to win than lose. Yeah, yeah, you can still have fun even when you lose, but c’mon. I’m actually pretty bothered by leagues for young kids that don’t really teach fundamentals of the sport and don’t even encourage competition. I personally don’t think that competition is a bad thing in sports or even in life in general.
Now that my husband and I are on the parenting side of sports teams, we have learned a few things. We encourage our children to try new activities, but we do not make them play on a team if they are not really interested. Though we do give them some tips and instruction, we don’t do it during practices or games; that’s the coach’s time to give instruction, and we want our children to listen to their coaches and acknowledge their authority. Most of all, we are to be our children’s biggest fans! This doesn’t mean that we fill their heads with an inaccurate view of their abilities; we praise their strengths and efforts, and we encourage practicing to improve in their areas of weakness.
The benefits of being part of a team are fantastic. The kids learn to work with others toward a common goal; find out what their strengths and talents are; adjust to being under the instruction of various coaches with different methods and personalities; and yes, they do have fun…even if they lose.
Carrie Bevell Partridge’s athletic claims to fame involved hitting two homeruns in one softball game and serving 15 straight serves in a volleyball game. She took early retirement from basketball, due to issues involving her dread of a buzzer and her need for personal space.