In this day and age of tablets, TVs and video games, it is clear just how important it is to get our kids up from behind the screen and moving. One great way to get them going is by getting them involved in extracurricular activities.
All the experts rant and rave about how good it is for kiddos to be involved in something other than school. Whether it is building up their self-confidence, teaching them time management, finding out what they like (and dislike), teamwork or goals, there are many positive things that come from being part of a team or group experience.
And yes, I believe in all of these things. Maylie’s idea of soccer was playing in the dirt, yet she shines bright on the big stage for dance. Reagan is still in the stage of figuring out what she likes the best. Right now she wants to do it all.
But one thing I have found, after herding cats — I mean, coaching my girls in basketball for the last three to four years — is that extracurricular activities are not only good for the kids, but they are also so beneficial for the parents. If you are brave enough, it’s even more beneficial for those who coach.
More than ever, this year, I am realizing so many things that I am learning as I embark on this adventure of attempting to teach a game I love and respect to a bunch of adorable kids running around like animals. Ha!
The biggest lesson came over me when Maylie, my own child, was still not guarding her person correctly. At least 20 times I told her and showed her how to be between her player and the basket. And she is a smart girl. This should have been easy for her to grasp.
For a minute or two, I was almost frustrated with her, a 7 year old. Heck, I even placed my hand on my head and shook it as I looked at the guy who runs the league. You see, I only know how to win. We don’t even keep score in this league, but you know if your team is ahead. I mean, you just know. And my daughter was getting scored on left and right.
And as I reminded her gently for the 100th time how to guard her person, I watched her a little closer as she smiled and said, “I know,” and happily skipped to the other end of the court.
She didn’t care about how she was guarding her person. She didn’t care if they won or lost. All she cared about was trying hard — even if it was the wrong way — and being part of a team with her friends. She was there to have fun, be involved and just let loose.
It was like an epiphany for me.
Instantly, I felt so much guilt wondering if she saw me shake my head about her inability to play correct defense. It was a “whoa, Mama, what are you teaching her?” type of moment.
Or maybe it was a, “whoa, Mama, she is teaching you,” kind of moment.
Look, comparing her at age 7 to her peers, she’s most likely not going to be the next Michael Jordan. But does that even matter? Especially at this age!
Sure, I wanted to get them early exposure to the sport and hope that they love it like I do, but that’s not the main reason I signed them up to play. I signed them up to play for all the benefits that I mentioned earlier and for them to have a positive outlet to have fun.
Maylie got it — she gets it. She’s out there for all the right reasons. It’s not if she scores the most buckets or defends the best, it’s learning and growing and being a part of something that she takes pleasure in. Winning, competing, being the best, those aren’t drives in her soft, sweet heart. Being there in the moment and experiencing it all is enough for her.
And that, even with as competitive of a person that I am, is more than enough for me.
I still don’t know if she saw my shameful display of dismay that day – she has yet to mention it and she continues to smile out on that court (as well as guard her person on the wrong side). And while I still remind her of the correct way, my tone and reactions have changed.
And I sure I won’t forget the lesson she taught me that day – as a parent and a coach – there’s more to a sport than winning or being the best. It is far more important to just be involved, let loose and most importantly have fun.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.