I love sports. They were such an important part of my life from as long as I can remember, and I daresay, they still are.

Sportsmanship is Alive and Well

Upon reading this article, my heart just broke a little more; a feat I didn’t think was possible.

See, I was the first child of an athlete. My baby gift was a Johnny Unitas signed football. My treasured toy was my Dr. J. red, white and blue basketball. I really never played with dolls. I liked to play basketball. I loved to ride my bike for miles. I shot BB guns, ran the pastures around my house, and swam in the community pool.

I was a awkward, lanky, nerdy, exceedingly tall girl, that never quite fit in anywhere.  My home life with a constantly working father and a manically depressed and often abusive mother and disabled sister were not idyllic.

Sports and being a part of a team, were my escape. They were a place where I kind of fit due to my  height and genetic gifts for sport.

At 18 I blessed to Zing with my hubby, a former D1 baseball player and ice hockey lover, who grew up, a lot like me, just skating on the flats, hiking, camping and fishing, and playing in the sand lot.

We have been blessed with 5 incredibly wonderful children. We expected that sports would be a part of their lives. We allowed them to try all kind of things. Their sports glory or failures were not about us. It is about their development as a human. It was about being a part of something larger then themselves.

They mostly gravitated to their father’s sports of baseball/softball and ice hockey (although I have one volleyball player!) He and I have volunteered to help all children on the teams, no matter their ability. We love sports and obviously having kids (lots of them) in our lives. It seemed a natural progression to continue to be involved and share our love of sports with others through coaching, volunteering, driving kids to practices and games if necessary, just being present.

But something changed. Sports became big business. At young ages parents are sold a bill of goods that little Jonny or Mary, if they go to the right camps, play on the the best teams, buy the best equipment, they will have this magical, transformative experience. In what I have witnessed and experienced, the reality falls far short of the promises.

Gone are the days of multi-sport athletes. Children are being pushed to focus on one sport earlier and earlier. Countless studies have shown that it is bad for children, yet it persists.

Early Specialization: Nine Reasons Why It Is a Bad Idea

Why? It makes people money. It make parents feel good. It makes children feel good – for awhile.

What happens when winning becomes EVERYTHING? What happens when you no longer can win? What happen to you when you trounce an opponent so badly that you crush a person’s soul? Longitudinally – what, in being someone that participates in that trouncing, does it do to your soul?

Winning is fun. But should it be the focus of youth sport? Shouldn’t youth sport be geared to learning? Having fun? Becoming a better, healthier YOU?

Winning is fun, but sportsmanship is better. Let’s teach our children that shaking hands after a game is more important than the score. Let’s stop the madness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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baseball, Catholic, children, coaching, family, growth, hockey, hockeymom, love, momoffive, motherhood, skating, sports, sportsmanship, truth

Rules Don’t Apply Equally

Catholic, children, coaching, faith, family, growth, hockey, hockeymom, lettinggo, love, momoffive, motherhood, skating, sports, teenagers, truth

Happy Easter Monday!

My middle child has had a tough year with sports and in life in general. He has found that friends from childhood left him for the shiny new penny in town, he was jumped by a school teammate and the punishment was not fair and even excused away due to the other’s “rough childhood experiences” and then with great anticipation and excitement, he joined a new organization and new “old” team only to find that tigers don’t change their stripes and rules don’t apply equally.

Funny how people love to sit in their sanctimonious glass houses preaching about gratitude and appropriate behaviors while condoning cheating and cross-rostering across organizations without prior permissions – violations that caused other players to be removed from a league – and when we were faced with an abusive coach, to sit idly by in apathetic acceptance, too afraid to say anything, but expecting me to defend my child (and yours by association) further putting my own children in jeopardy?

Having learned that there is no fairness at a young age, while heartbreaking to watch unfold, will allow him to be a stronger, more faithful and more grateful person. Teaching hockey to those less fortunate, will allow him to realize that playing sports is a privilege.

So very pleased that I was told by an old friend that he did such a wonderful job with one of his young charges, I watched him wearily, but with a joyful countenance, amble to the car.

Beaming, on the way home, he regaled me with how he taught a young child how to skate and leave the security of the sled behind.

He, with great hope, untarnished by the ugliness that the has experienced and smiling ear to ear, was so joy-filled to be able to be back on the ice helping those learn to love the abject perfection of a clean sheet of ice, the coldness of the air and the sweat of your brow after crossing over a few hundred times.

While the rules may not apply equally, the love of skating will never leave his soul.

Rules don’t apply to your feelings.

 

 

Is Sociopath the New Black?

Catholic, children, coaching, disabilty, hockeymom, lettinggo, momoffive, motherhood, sports

Been awhile and I’m struggling trying to come to grips with why…self doubt, anxiety, busyness, de-prioritization of my needs; I can go on and on…

What has come to a earth shattering head is my desire to remove sociopaths from my life and avoid them at all costs.

What is a sociopath you ask?  Instead of defining the negative, I am focusing on the positive or empath side (because frankly I look terrible in orange!) and engaging in putting a desire to associate only with positive people and empathetic people.

For those wanting a good read, I highly recommend the The Empathy Trap a book that absolutely enhanced my work to dismantle the negative, energy sucking and stressful people and events from my life and encourage the positive.

Another article grabbed my attention this morning was the F word ( No not one of the  swear words I enjoy using!)  – but Feminism – and after International Women’s Day yesterday, the countless same old same old Women’s Month events, political pulling of the woman cards, special places in hell for certain women, etc. I felt I should break my self-exile and speak. As a women, a wife, a sister, a mother, a friend; my roles consistently put me in a place where sociopaths are the new norm and unfortunately are perhaps the new black – a blackness of depravity of character so beyond my comprehension that I refuse to accept it as the new norm.

A very wise person told me once  “No one gives a shit whether you live or die.”

Wiser words have never been spoken! Why? Because it came with a caveat -a millisecond later – the ONLY one that should care about you is YOU!

Anger, stress, revenge, sarcasm – all can be used as motivators, but often times we don’t know how to take the negative in our lives and turn them into golden opportunities for learning and self reflection and most often these “motivators” are turned to life altering stressors that cause disease, violence and pain.

Recently a coach put his hands on my child in anger. My child responded with anger back. I resisted (albeit with extreme difficulty) to turn to my default of anger, revenge, and vendetta, and turned to prayer and self-refection to try to help my child (and myself and those around me) grow and learn. I turned to a trusted friend with strong faith to help me through one of the most difficult events I have faced as a mother.

My child is forever changed by how I approached this difficult situation. I believe he has learned a tremendous amount from it. My child’s ability to analyze and reflect and learn from this is so well above his/her chronological age and I am so very proud.

I am angry? Yes! Am I disappointed? No doubt – but my attempts to channel positivity from this and to take an educators perspective, “What can be learned and done differently when presented with a situation like this in the future?” will undoubtedly affect not only the child affected, but every child and person in whom comes in contact with my child.

I will not be wearing black – in my wardrobe nor my countenance, but most importantly not in my soul! Easter is upon us and Spring in the air and with it, the winds of change…

 

 

 

 

Grow Up – You’re Coming Untied!

baseball, coaching, hockeymom, motherhood, sports, Uncategorized

Dear Sport Moms and Dads (or any other person for whom this message pertains),

Grow up!  I’ve spent the past few months reflecting on the horrific behavior I have been witnessing in the guise of youth sports and let me tell you  something –  your child is not going pro.

Last night was the final straw for me!

A dear friend was upset because “grown”  women,  mothers, were loudly commenting on the fact that her 8 year old wasn’t trying shoes quickly enough in their opinion.

Really?  Shut up  you ridiculous,  judgmental,  wastes of reproductive organs!

Who in the hell is she/he bothering?  What the hell is wrong with you?  A child isn’t tying shoes quickly enough?  Last time I checked pumpkins,  shoe tying is not an Olympic, collegiate or any type of sport!

The ridiculousness of competition in youth sport and school is just insane.  Every time I watch a 7 or 8 year old child be stuck out in the outfield positions and placed at the bottom of the batting order when the coach states winning is not important but actions speak the opposite;  I’m disgusted.

To physically move a child from an infield position to place another child there that is “better”  after the  child has already started the inning is appalling.

What message does that send?  Win at all cost but say it is not important?

Today was the 3rd grade egg car race. Again,  parents,  so obsessed with winning,  “helped”  their children to the point at which the rules have been so obfuscated that having them are worthless.

What is the point of a technology challenge when you don’t follow specs nor actually have your child build it themselves with MINOR guidance? What do the children learn?

My children do their projects themselves,  write their own reports,  do their own science fair projects.  They play sports to have fun,  learn new skills and meet new friends.

Guess I will work on my kids’ hunting,  fishing and archery,  reading,  building and driving skills –  some of those are in the Olympics!

The rest of you work on your shoe tying –  Moms at the ballpark are watching!

Mamasaurus

Sports Mama Drama – A Mamasaurus Guide to Saying No

baseball, coaching, hockeymom, motherhood, sports

Dear Sports Mamas,

Where do I begin? To use this article as a justification for benching less skilled, less focused, or downright just young players is in my opinion appalling! You also need to look at the innate bias of the writer – his JOB is sports! He is unfortunately, packaging and marketing a product that can be used by these crazy obsessed people!  I received a response from him and he was appalled that it would be used to justify this nonsense and that it was not his intent! That makes me happy!

At 5-12 years old, young CHILDREN are still developing. Some develop sooner and stop, some develop later and blossom, some keep developing or some never will be the “star” but just want to play for fun to meet new people and gain a new skill. I am increasingly distressed by the justification of playing the perceived “star” or “favorite” players, when it’s just plain and simple politics wrapped in a candy coating. The craziness and competitiveness of youth sports is damaging our young people’s mental and physical health (repetitive sports injuries from too early specialization, etc.) and I for one, as a mother of five, will not buy into this mentality.

Children need to have fun until they are post-pubescent and then make the decision as to what to focus on. Children are being pressured by coaches at younger and younger ages to go to their chosen camps, play one sport all year long, and to be mean to those less skilled for what? A trophy? A championship? A tournament win? They are CHILDREN! When you are in MS and HS sure – play your favorites, but in youth sports, they all should play!

Papasaurus is one the of the best coaches I have ever had the pleasure of watching in action. He nurtures EVERY child not just the star! I was reminded by a “rival” coach a few months ago and seeing my track star last night reminded me of the power that coaches have over children’s and young adults’ lives. The fact that I got a huge hug from an amazing woman who I coached 25 years ago solidified it in my mind. Visiting one of my runner’s grave site every March does too. She was not nurtured by her coach post HS and ended her life.

So “Coach Haefner” go ahead and play your favorites. I hope that you still speak to them later in life. It is an amazing thing if you can!

Love,
Coach Mamasaurus

http://jeffhaefner.com/coach/yes-i-do-play-my-favorites/