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Man Bicep Mom – March to the Beat of Your Own Drum

I’m a big believer in competitive sports for kids.  Competing in a sport is a wonderful, character building experience.

Thinking back on my own experiences in ice skating and tennis, I marvel at all the things I learned from competing in a sport.

First off, I had to learn to organize my time.  If I wanted to get all my homework done and get good grades, I had to learn to prioritize and use my time efficiently.  Since I had a smaller window for doing my homework each evening, I learned to apply myself when I sat down to study.  The endless evening of studying (or avoiding it) was not an option.

I had to learn to plan ahead for those weekends when I was out-of-town at skating meets.  You didn’t study at a skating meet.  I think the need to organize and plan ahead gave me a feeling of control and accomplishment.

And then, of course, there were those days when you just didn’t want to skate or workout or play tennis.  I remember doing rain dances, pleading with the skies to open up so I didn’t have to go to a skating workout.  But most of the time the workouts happened and I went and practiced hard.

I learned how to push myself.  I learned how to push myself in a workout even though I was tired.  I learned how to push past the pain in a race to cross the finish line.  I learned how to push past the nerves in a tennis match and continue to go for my shots.

Once again I had a feeling of control and accomplishment.

I learned about cheating and confronted the kind of person I wanted to be.  In tennis it’s very easy to cheat.  Unless you’re a pro you call your own lines and your own score.  It’s very easy to call that in ball out when you want it to be out so badly.  It’s a big decision to decide that you want to win fairly.  It’s a decision that can affect your whole life.  Too bad more parents and coaches aren’t helping their young athletes make the right choice.  Boy, do I have stories about that…

So I learned how to organize my time and plan ahead and push myself beyond what I thought I could do.  I began to define myself as a person and find my moral center.  I felt pretty good about myself – mature, accomplished and self-confident. I was busy doing something that I loved.

In talking to friends years later, I realized that I had missed a lot of the sturm und drang of high school.  All the social one-upmanship and petty gossip went right past me.  I was just too busy to pay any attention and, maybe, had enough confidence in myself to ignore it.

I also had enough confidence to march to my own drummer.  I loved my sports, but they often conflicted with parties, social events and dates.  I chose the sports – skating meets and tennis tournaments – and have never regretted it.  So did Cori.  She chose tennis over parties.

I remember having to fill out a questionnaire for Cori’s guidance counsel to help her with her letter of recommendation for Cori for college.  I remembering putting down that Cori marched to her own drummer.  I watched Cori ignore the mean, popular girls and side-step the drinking and drugs.  She played her tennis and got good grades.  She stayed focused and determined.

Of course, you can learn a lot of these lessons doing other activities.  But mix these lessons with endorphins and a possible lifestyle choice and you have a winning combination.

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