Last summer was a busy one for us. Between a full time contract and becoming a single mom again, things got a little hectic. One thing that I didn't mind was making sure my daughter got to go to volleyball camp.
I've been wanting her to join a sport since she got out of cheer. She finally decided that she'd give volleyball a try. She was discouraged throughout the first camp week, but I signed her up for a second week just the same. "You'll get better... don't worry." Begrudgingly, she laced up and got out on the court the following Monday. By Wednesday, I noticed that things were clicking. Her muscle memory was kicking in and she was starting to pal around with the other campers without stressing out about looking bad in front of them. I signed her up for another week.
That week, she finally caught her stride. She got frustrated at herself, not because she wasn't doing well, but because she knew she could do better. I encouraged that enough to where she kept pushing herself to improve without knocking herself down. That's a thin line. A little too far and a budding athlete could decide that they'd rather walk away from all the hard work and give up on the challenge. Moms usually know how to read that and, hopefully, we stay on the positive side of the line.
When it came time to sign up for fall ball, there was no question... she was going to join. The fees were required up front and regardless of whether the athlete finished the season or not, there were no refunds. I looked her in the eye and asked, "You're sure you want this, right?" She gave me an emphatic yes. I put my money down and walked her in to the gym to be evaluated. Being the first few months she's ever played, she ended up on a beginner team. No problem... we were expecting that. The one thing I was worried about was the age group she was put in. Because she's a December Baby, she usually ends up as one of the oldest or one of the youngest. Never in between. In this case, she would be one of the youngest and would be playing girls that were one and two years older than her. I got nervous. She's going to be crushed, I thought. My concern was evident. And that made my daughter doubt herself.
Shame on me.
We both went to talk to the coach. I explained my concerns while my daughter looked on nervously. Her coach smiled a smile that made me realize I wasn't the first mom to come to her with this. She half talked to me and half talked to my daughter. She had confidence in her ability and told her she'd have plenty of great coaching to continue improving. My daughter nervously agreed to stay in the age group to which she had been assigned. For the next few days, she repeated the things her coach told her and talked herself into being cool with the placement.
The first match came and my daughter's team was trounced.
It was sad. I felt like I had lead my baby girl to slaughter. But I kept with what the coach said and reminded her that this was her first ever match and she'd only been playing for a few months. I shoved every worry away and encouraged her to keep going. We arrived at the gym early and stayed late for extra court time. I learned the drills and practiced them with her at home and at the beach. I took pictures and video to show her the things she couldn't see that were tripping her up. I stayed just on the side of positivity, only pulling back when we'd both had enough for the day.
The coach was right.
After weeks of late night practices and more experiences on the court playing other teams of varying skills, the season ended on a positive note. The girls had won their final match in spectacular form! It came down to the final game. The score stayed at one point difference forEVER, but our girls FINALLY got the two point lead and won. BOOM!!! The parents were as thrilled as the young athletes and cheered as though we had played the game ourselves. We sort of had... in our hearts. We watched them improve, week after week. We watched them come together as a team. We watched them encourage each other on and off the court. And we watched them WIN!
Moms don't always get it right. We don't always remember that our little ones aren't so little and stronger and more capable than we think. Sometimes we need a little coaching from the coaches to know how to be better cheerleaders on and off the court. But once we get it, it's our job to encourage the best in our athletes.
Everybody starts somewhere... even moms.
This is a sponsored post for She Speaks/ Powerade.
About the POWERADE "Just A Kid" Campaign:
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- POWERADE believes that with the right motivation, these everyday athletes can realize their potential and one day be the athletes that they look up to. Sports have a major impact on our communities. Whether it is t-ball or the pros, every athlete in every league has a story waiting to be told.
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