Earning Your Place in the Team

By Stevie

Teams at almost all levels of sports are comprised of players who worked hard to get where they are. Hours of practices, conditioning, physical therapy for injuries, strict diets, and training all to bring them to their ultimate goal. This is universal, not just exclusive to the NHL.

Tonight, I attended a local school board meeting in support of a friend who coaches cheerleading. Yes, I firmly believe that cheerleading is a sport. Many of my friends growing up where cheerleaders and the effort they put into gymnastics and dance and the injuries that come with it are just as grueling on the mind and body as any football or hockey player will experience.

To summarize the situation, the school decided that 20 girls is the number for each squad. Based on school funding and the safety of the girls to perform their routines at competition on the mat that’s minimum size to meet competition regulations is 42’x42′, 20 is the magic number. The former number was 28. The coaches at the school based on their experience and expertise decided that 20 girls would be the new squad number.

This unfortunately for some means that cheering would no longer be possible, at least on the student squad. Other options for independent cheer squads are available in most areas.

The problem with competitive sports at the school aged level is that parents are involved. While this is also amazing and necessary for so many parents to dedicate their time, money and emotion into any passion that their child has and to aid them in fine tuning their craft, some parents cannot accept that their child is not among the best.

In this situation, the politics of sports came into play. As I understand it, two sets of parents of the girls who did not make it went to the athletic director, the principal, and the superintendent to try and reverse the decisions made. Unfortunately, my friend, who is an amazing coach, was the one taking the fall.

If I have ever seen someone dedicated to the success of a squad and to putting together a top quality program, it is this young woman (who will remain nameless for obvious privacy reasons and due to the sensitivity of her job being in play here). She puts her heart into what she does and should be commended for her work with the girls.

Thankfully, the Principal is putting his support behind the coaches and their decision and the build of the program that they have implemented. The parents in question tonight, stated that they would be at the school board meeting with the media.

I attended the meeting. The bells and whistles did not show up and the parents arrived…and remained silent. Based on the population in attendance, the support was in favor of the coaches.

I was happy to hear the Principal say exactly what was on my mind for this situation: It is unfortunate that kids must deal with the heartbreak of not making the squad and as a parent, he can empathize with the parents who are displeased and want their children to be able to participate. But the fact of the matter is, we all must deal with disappointment in our lives. No one is exempt from this fact. Some of us deal with disappointment better than others, but as far as he is concerned this is a closed issue and the coaches will continue to be supported in their methods.

We all must deal with disappointment. Our society has moved in a direction where we coddle our children and award everyone a trophy and a medal for participating so that feelings are not hurt.

This is a disgrace and it is part of the reason that people feel so entitled to things for which they did not EARN.

I played softball for a number of years in my life. I was not great, but I was good. I’ve sat my share of games. But my parents did not say a word. Why? Because I had to earn my spot on the field. My brothers, unfortunately, fell from sports due to the political game. They sat as punishment for decisions my father had made as a coach earlier in their lives. The children who had to sit at that time’s father was the coach later. And punished my brothers, who were extremely talented, for it. (And many of the parents knew it.) As much as it hurt my parents to see the disappointment on my brothers faces when they traveled from game to game, only to sit while lesser players took their places, they did not cause a fuss.

Do you know how many trophies I have? The only proof I have that I ever picked up a ball are my old jerseys and shirts. I was never on a winning team, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. My youngest brother had a summer where he took the MVP at almost every tournament he played in. I was so proud of him. But he earned those trophies.

As a parent, I want my son to have every success in sports and any other activities that he puts his time and dedication into. But he needs to earn his way onto teams. The notion of every kid gets a trophy just doesn’t resound with me. What does that trophy mean? What does that medal mean to you? What story do you tell about it? About how you sweated and pushed through pain and stood by your team and did everything you could to have that trophy on your shelf?

Competition is important. There are no trophies for showing up in life. The elite are the elite because they earned their place. They earned their names on plaques and trophies and in record books.

You won’t get every job. You won’t get into every school. You won’t always get the girl/guy. You won’t always make the money you want to make. Life is hard. But you deal with it and hopefully learn from it and push harder.

Glory is something you taste because you put in the time to experience it. If you are a parent of a child in competitive sports, don’t push for your child to have what they did not earn. The heart of a champion may be there, but it takes more than heart and someone will always be better. They have to be. That is why they are champions.

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5 responses to “Earning Your Place in the Team

  1. Pingback: Gaborik Saves the Day in Triple OT |·

  2. I was one of the “parents in question” the night of the the school board meeting and I did not state to anyone that I would be at the school board meeting that night with the media , nor did any of the other parents. That is an absolutely positively false statement. The only reason I was at the meeting was because I was informed that many of the Booster moms would be there to defend their coach. I was prepared to speak If I had to explain and or defend my daughter’s experience with the tryout process. I had more of a problem with the process, not the outcome.

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