Rookie Sport ParentSummer Sanders
I may be an “expert” in swimming, but due to the time I spent acquiring that title, I’m quite clueless as to how other sports work and train…which makes me like every other parent, Olympian or not. I am a full-on rookie sport parent, and I’m loving every second of it. Well, sort of…
When I finally dropped my daughter off at her first gymnastics meet last year, I felt like I needed a drink. I arrived at the gym later than I should have, and my daughter’s hair was nowhere close to “completely slicked back” as was clearly stated it should be in the handbook. I was walking around looking for someone, anyone, to direct me. Once I dropped her in the “gymnast only” area, I felt I could breathe again. And then I thought…this is crazy; sports have been my life. How do I not know what to do? I was a rookie with a capital R, and it was clearly painted really big in the middle of my forehead. Funnily enough, that idea made me smile.
I love the fact that every step of my kids’ sports adventures are new to me.
From the tying of the karate belt and situating the shinguards, to the no-parental-contact in gymnastics, it is clear that I am venturing into uncharted territory… new waters, so to speak. I know how to get the green out of your hair and how to put on a swim cap, but that knowledge is as useless as a $100 bill at a vending machine. And in a way, that means the pressure is off.
When my kiddos are going for it in soccer, I have no clue what to yell other than “Get the ball!” In karate, I haven’t even figured out what the words mean yet, let alone how the scoring works. And all this cluelessness makes the sport so pure to me. I get to see the courage and joy that is shining through with every kick, vault and HI-YA!
Of course there is the downside of being a rookie. For instance, I had no idea how necessary the butt cushion was at a gymnastics event, but after enduring the spectator pain for two hours, I would have given someone my gold medal for their little plastic pad.
Lesson learned. So as I sit there like this is “my first rodeo,” slightly unsure when and how loud I can cheer, I am so proud. I am tears-in-my-eyes proud of every single kid out there on the field, the beam and the mat because the one thing I do know, which translates in every sport across the board, is how much guts it takes to get out there and try.
About every third day or so my husband and/or I are asked, “So, are your kids going to be swimmers or skiers?” It’s an innocent question that I would probably ask myself if I didn’t know me. Right now, Skye dreams of being an Olympic gymnast and memorizing the “Cup Song,” and Spider dreams of breaking 1,000 pogos in a row and getting one step closer to a yellow belt with a stripe. “We” have no clue what our kids are going to be, we just hope they keep us around to enjoy the ride. So when you wonder if you’re doing the right things, or trying to figure out how this sport your child’s interested in works… remember you’re not alone. We’re all rookies sometimes.