June 19, 2014
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced when you were a kid? Has that changed over time?
As a kid I don’t think I felt any challenges that were negative in youth sports. I can remember playing sports and having fun (Really). I remember oranges at halftime of soccer games, popsicles after games, popcorn after my little league won a game (we got to fill out hats up from the concession stand) and I remember loving going from one sport to the next.
My first love growing up was baseball. My brother played it and my dad played in a softball league. So it was present in my life. I loved when my dad and I would play catch or hit me pop flies in the yard. I loved getting ready for games and putting on my uniform. I put my baseball pants on inside out and then pulled them up and it looked so cool. I remember playing baseball in the spring, soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter. What ever season and sport it was – that is what I did. I can remember over-lapping a bit and that was the hard part because I would be late sometimes to a game and I didn’t like missing out!
Soccer became a year round thing for me, I just can’t remember when. I enjoyed playing soccer but I never lost the love of my other two sports – baseball and basketball. So I continued on through high school.
I know these days life for young athletes is different and I’m not so sure if that is a good or bad thing. When I get emails from parents asking me when their child should specialize, I’m a bit surprised especially when the child they are asking about is only 10. Today, many kids are playing one sport and I don’t think that is necessarily a good thing, although I have heard so many young girls say that they just love soccer and don’t want to do anything else. So this is your issue as a parent – do we force them to do another sport or let their love guide them? It’s a tough thing that I will also experience as my kids grow up and hopefully play sports. Where do we step in?
High school was my first taste of another coach having some issue with my soccer. The reason being, I was playing softball and I often had to go away for a soccer event and miss a softball game. Now I didn’t know how to handle that because I wanted to do both. I was torn and it brought me to tears. I can’t remember the details, but based on my career, I am guessing I went to play soccer and missed my softball.
So there are tough decisions that have to be made and sometimes not a good feeling for the young athlete. But, make a choice and embrace it – play because you love it. As parents, we need to help limit those tough decisions for kids and make sure we help them enjoy their young years of playing sports.
Have fun and always believe!