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Change Can Be Hard

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment

As I have covered in previous posts, my girls have been doing competitive gymnastics for 3 years.  Together, we have made the painful decision to move away from this part of our lives.  We agonized over the decision for months and we as a family were able to come to an agreement.  The night we made the final decision was one of the worst nights as a father and husband that I have endured.  We analyzed this thing 243 different ways and looked at every possible angle before making the final call and it was still terrible.  This is not a sport that your child can be casually involved in.  It involves the entire family and you become close friends with other parents, gymnasts, and coaches.

Although we made the ultimate decision to walk away, I will never regret that my daughters were involved in such an intense sport.  They have learned so many life lessons that I did not learn until my high school, college, and even in some cases, adult life.  Yes, it is ultra competitive and that can be a very bad thing. However, I have found in life that you cannot succeed without trying hard and you cannot try hard unless you truly know yourself and trust yourself.  My girls learned much more than how to do a roundoff back tuck.  They learned to trust themselves.  They learned to believe in themselves.   They learned that no matter how hard you try, you cannot always win and that success does not have to be measured by the number of awards won, but when the award do come, enjoy and celebrate.  They learned that success doesn’t come without hard work.  That people can be tough on you because they care about you and believe in you.  But most importantly, they learned that they have potential of so much more than what they currently are but in order to achieve it, they are going to have to push beyond their comfort zone, trust themselves, and let go of the bar in order to spread their wings.

I wonder how many years it will be before their coach is able to see the amazing impact on these young girls’ lives away from the chalk and springboards.

So now, we find other things, many other things, I’m sure.  Other sports will come soon, but for now, it’s animals, vegetables, and water.  This summer my little gymnasts are just little farm girls.

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Gymnastics Season

September 23, 2008 Leave a comment

My girls had their mock meet on Sunday.  This is going to be a good season.  This year’s mock meet was a far cry from last year where one of my daughters was ready to quit half way through the rotations.  This year, I saw grace and poise in their faces.  They were encouraging and reassuring the first year girls.  Oh yeah, their scores were much higher, also. 

I don’t want to minimize the importance of their scores or winning.  Being successful and doing your best is a major component of youth sports but it is only one component.  Winning at all costs at this level is just insane.  You can always find those parents that are flipping out if their kid is not the fastest, the stongest, or the best.  Those poor kids will be burnt out by age 16 or earlier. 

What I saw this Sunday reminded me of what is good about youth sports.  The lessons that these boys and girls are learning are not easily taught in a classroom.  I have seen a huge increase in my girls’ confidence, discipline, and self-reliance.  Their ability to follow directions has increased and they can now push beyond what they think they are capable of and actually find their limits. 

They will win some medals along the way and have a whole lot of fun.  Not a bad way to learn.

New Gymnastics Season Gears Up This Weekend

September 20, 2008 Leave a comment

This weekend, our gym has their annual mock meet.  It’s just our gymnast and a judge.  The girls (and this year, the boys) go through all the motions of a real meet on their home turf.  My girls are competing for the second year and will again be on the level 4 team. 

My oldest is putting more pressure on herself this year because she is now a “veteran” on the team.  There’s a fine line between striving for excellence and fretting over being good enough and I am trying my best to define that line for her.  She has made it clear that last year it was fun to compete but this year, winning is part of the fun. 

My younger daughter still seems oblivious to the whole competition thing.  She works hard and loves the sport.  She loves getting up on the podium, but doesn’t really dwell on it before the meets.  Her biggest goal is pleasing her coach.  There’s no sign of that changing. 

I certainly don’t know the intricacies of gymnastics scoring but I know that my girls have worked very hard this summer and they look much stronger, confident, and graceful.  Quite frankly, if they finish in last place as good as they look in practice, I’d be pleased.

Gymnastics and Geekiness

June 1, 2008 4 comments

My son and two daughters, who are sporting their hardware from the meet.

I have hit the pinnacle of my geekdom! I am sitting in a coffee shop downloading something on my girls’ gymnastics coach’s computer and posting on my blog from my blackberry. I have to admit. I love being a geek. My wife even got into the act by homeschooling our son during breaks in the meet
Enough about me, my girls had a meet today in Millersville, MD. It was a smaller meet and the girls compete at next year’s level. Mine are staying level 4. Although the scores were not as high as states, they both collected more hardware than in any other meet this season! I think the judges kept the scores lower to allow the girls room for improvement. I could be totally wrong as it is nearly impossible for me to tell the difference between good and great in this sport. Bad is detectable in any sport.
Back to my girls, My youngest daughter scored a first, third, fourth, and third all around. My oldest scored a second, third, fourth and third all around. The big victory is that my oldest made the podium more today than any other meet, possibly more than she did all season. she couldn’t stop smiling! There are so many things I love about this sport but one of the biggest is that everyone gets their playing time. No matter if your are pulling 9.9s or 5.0s, you get the same amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, you have to have skills to even make it to the team, but once you’re there, you don’t have to ride the bench. All season, my girls have been in the middle or back of the pack and have progressed nicely as the year moved along. This have them a taste of what they might experience next year. They are building crazy strength, strong charictar, and good work habits. It’s nice to collect some hardware every once in a while, too.

I am proud of my girls!

May 12, 2008 3 comments

My girls competed in the Level 4 Maryland State Championships this weekend!  My wife and I were so proud of them! My oldest picked the right time to peak as she scored her highest in 3 out of 4 events and scored her highest all around.  My younger daughter scored her highest on the beam and had her second best all around.  More importantly, they both had their most consistant day of the entire season.  I can’t wait for next year 

This is their first year in competitive gymnastics and it has been so awesome to see the change in both of them.  Yes, they have learned a lot about how to tumble and twirl and even fall gracefully, but they have learned so much more than that.  Their confidence levels have soared.  They have come to realize that if they can jump up and down and do handstands on a 4″ wide board in front of a couple hundred people then long division or speaking in public just doesn’t seem so hard. 

I can relate anything to lessons in life and take full opportunity to do so now.  After what my girls (and all girls on their team) have done this season, they are dripping with self confidence and fully know that they can push themselves beyond what they are currently capable of.  Not because someone told them that they could.  Not because they read about other people doing it.  Because they did it.  Isn’t that like how God trains us?  You can read about great men and women in the Bible.  Your pastor can preach about how you can overcome great obsticles but until you actually face the hard stuff, you don’t really know what you can do.  Many choose to cut and run or wallow in self pity.  But those who choose to perservere through the hard lessons in life find that everyday trials are just a minor inconvenience.  In order to achieve great things, you must conquer great obsticles.  If the beam were 12 inches wide instead of 4, the handstands and the jumps would be too easy, but more inportantly, some of the skills would be impossible on such a wide beam.  It has to be 4 inches in order for the gymnast to show true grace and beauty that is different from the floor excercise.  If you want to be a stronger Christian, then you have to do your handstands on the beam instead of on the floor.  Look to your storms and struggles as training to make you more skilled and graceful in life not as massive mountains that cannot be overcome.  The Bible says God will not put more on us than we can bear.  If you are in a massive struggle, then he know that you are capable of more than you think, just like the gymnastics coach knows that her girls are capable of handstands on the beam even when it looks impossible to the gymnast.