Volleyball dads and soccer moms

Posted: September 18, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

While you were watching poorly officiated football Monday night, I began transforming into an overbearing, no-perspective, vicarious-living, youth-sports parent. Or not. It’s too early to tell.

This much is certain: My 8-year-old daughter has joined a local volleyball league. It’s her first foray into organized athletics and therefore my first foray into being the father of an aspiring athlete.

As you might expect given my overly analytical nature, I’ve put some thought into how this is going to go, and actually feel pretty decent about it.

For starters, my kiddo is doing this on her own volition. Her first exposure to the sport came from learning that her mom (my wife), played in high school and college (and well, I might add, until Lyme’s Disease ended her career). From there, she goofed around with it at home, tried a couple of day camps and then decided to join several school friends in this neighborhood-based league. There’s one practice and one game per week through December, meaning she’s bound to experience success and failure and fatigue and most of the elements that go into a genuine sports season.

That’s the part I’m most excited about.

It’s a funny thing about having a career that centers on sports – I don’t care if she turns some combination of hard work and natural ability into a spot on the varsity or a college scholarship. In fact, I don’t even care if she goes out for the team unless that’s what she genuinely wants to do. I hope that’s a healthy approach, although I wonder if I’m overcompensating a bit, if I so badly don’t want to turn into Overzealous Guy that I’m willing to skew toward indifference. Competition can make people do stupid things.

In my experience, too many people go into athletics (or encourage their kids to get involved) so that they can claim tangible rewards – scholarships, trophies, money, fame, etc. The percentages say those things are possible, but not likely. Even if they do come to fruition, what happens next? An identity crisis, perhaps.

I haven’t competed in an interscholastic competition since Fall 1996 yet sporting principles impact my life on a daily basis. Teamwork and toughness and discipline and fitness and sacrifice – all from sports and not always from positive experiences. Sure, I developed some of those qualities through dalliances with music and student government, and my parents set a certain tone, but the results never felt as satisfying or enjoyable as they did with sports.

That’s what I hope my kiddo gets out of this. But, again, not going to force participation in the name of character development, either, as long as she’s into something other than watching TV. So far, she’s shown more interest in music and art and dance than sports. I’m totally fine with that. In fact, it might be easier in the sense that I’m hardly an expert in those areas – even less so than I am an expert about sports, that is – and therefore would be less inclined to give advice or make suggestions.

If this is the start of a long run, then I’ll help when she wants me to help. I’ll attend as many games and practices as possible. I’ll ask her questions. In short, I’ll steer more than drive. At least, I hope I will because the only non-A of my high school career came from driver’s ed.

  1. Mike Henriksen says:

    Terry: Good thoughts. The best advice I can give you: Show up, shut up, and offer to drive.

  2. Jerry says:

    If you are going to accuse a coach of favorites then you had better be prepared to be the coach. Unless you are willing to be the coach the best thing to do would be to follow Mike’s advice.

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