An Intro: Moms of Athletes
Written by: Pamela Garner
When my sons expressed an interest in playing sports, I didn’t understand the ride I was about to take. I wish I would have known, or could have met someone to explain to me the support that would be required of me. I did not have brothers and I never played sports. Growing up, my sister and I were both in the high school marching band. It was rigorous and exhausting, yet fun; however, it was not, and is not a sport.
I could not understand why the team was always practicing and the coach was always screaming. Someone was always asking me to work in the concession stand. Although there were 30 plus boys on the team, there was a core group of approximately 12 parents who consistently showed up to watch and support the team. As a result, I was always asked to work concessions. I despised the bossy mothers who could not seem to remember they were talking to adults. I was ready to quit. I had laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes waiting on me. It took me a couple of years to grasp the concept that when your child participates in a team sport, a clean house is secondary. I am not advocating a filthy house; I'm just saying don’t flip out when your house is messy. Circumstances may prevent you from making every game, however, you need to make it your business to attend as many games as possible; your child needs to know you are there.
My son tried his hand at different sports and found his niche in football. When your child is an athlete, you must learn to like the sport and learn everything you can about your child’s sport. My son is musically gifted, so naturally I was disappointed when he told me, “Mom, I hate marching band.” He has played football since 9th grade and is adamant about playing college football.
Fast forward to his senior year, gallons of Gatorade, perspiration-soaked gear, and too-numerous-to-count cases of water, I now have a better understanding of what my son needed and still requires from me, and I want to share with you some tips that will help you adjust to this new ride you are taking.
Commitment: Your time still is not yours. The team will practice frequently and for longer periods. There is also film to view and review. Scheduled winter, fall, summer or miscellaneous breaks from school will not necessarily mean the team will be excused from practice. The same goes for vacation. Check with his coach.
As I mentioned, I didn’t grow up with brothers. I was not prepared for the amount of food this boy could put away, and 2 hours after dinner, stare at me and sincerely say, “Mom, I’m hungry.” Athletes eat large portions. All the time. All day. Every day. Imagine my joy when he told me, “Mom, Coach said I need to gain weight. He’s changing my position.”
If you have daughters, you already know how expensive they are. This is the same with athletes. Girls wants girly things. Athletes want athletic things: cleats, head bands, wrist bands, shorts, special leather gloves, socks and more cleats. Thank God I didn’t have to purchase his size 16 cleats.
He will need your guidance in helping him keep a balance between maintaining his grades, social life, social media presence, part-time employment and community service. Professional athletes have agents, managers and coaches to help them navigate their career and social life. Your high school student athlete needs you too. Senior year is stressful.
If your child is playing in Pop Warner or middle school, please recognize and realize, high school football is more intense, and different, as in baking vs. cooking. If your son wants to play in college, he knows scouts could be in the crowd.
The day before, and especially on game day, keep it light. Smile. Keep it pleasant. Save the heavy conversations for another day.
Have fun! Take pictures! Many pictures! Record the team running onto the field. Document his achievements both on and off the field. You’ll need it for college paperwork. In those stressful moments do your best to present tranquility. Take several deep breaths. If you’re cool on the outside, he’ll calm down. Grip the handlebars of your ride through the upside down dips, twists and turns. Before you know it, you’ll see light at the end of the tunnel and the ride will be over. You’ll shed some tears as thoughts of kindergarten flash through your memory when he walks across the stage to “Pomp and Circumstance.” Have no fear; there’s another ride ahead.