I’ve got three very athletic kids. This is both good and bad. Good for them, especially, but, at times, not so good for us. Trying to keep up with all they do and where they have to do it isn’t easy. It’s time consuming, terribly tiring and not to mention expensive. And there are days when I think to myself, and a time or two I have actually verbalized it to Tisha:
“Do we really want to drive an hour and half (one way) to attend an hour long basketball game, especially on a weeknight?”
So far this year we’ve traveled over an hour each way to attend two different basketball games for two separate children on several different occasions. (Mea culpa: I’m writing this, in part, because we traveled just over an hour on Tuesday night for Haylee’s game and tonight we’ll need travel another hour and fifteen minutes for Aby’s game.) A few moments ago I was tempted to text my wife:
“Do we really want to drive to Bruceville-Eddy tonight?”
My kids appreciate it. It’s a bit ironic that on Tuesday I doubted whether my kids cared all that much about us being at their games. But while driving home Haylee sent me a text that suggested otherwise. I had just been talking to Tisha about it as we left Blooming Grove when her text came through. Happenstance? I think there’s more to it than that. The text was all I needed to confirm we weren’t wasting our time and energy at all. My day was made!
My gut tells me the coaches appreciate it, as well. I remember attending a basketball tournament not long ago and I noticed that the opponents had no fans on their side of the gym. Not even one. It was so across the board demoralizing I began to cheer for both teams. When our opponent did something well, I’d clap and say, “Good job, ladies.”
Fans are important, and coaches need all the positive support they can get. Coaches are scrutinized more than pastors, I believe. I know they walk on eggshells, worrying some parent is “pissed off” because they feel their child didn’t get the playing time they deserved. I know they are anxious that too many losses will lead to having to look for another job and move their families once more.
Good coaches deserve better than what they often get from parents. I’d like to think that a couple of my kid’s coaches appreciate that we tend to always be at away games. I’d like to think they see us as supportive and not 40 year-old juveniles living vicariously through their children.
I’ve come to believe that parents really need to butt out. If we aren’t cheering our kids on, we’d probably best serve by shutting up. We had our chances to play, and we had our chances to choose coaching as an occupation. If we didn’t choose coaching as a profession we need not act like we are ones.
Teammates appreciate it. I was hesitant to write this post because some parent reading it might feel guilty that they can’t always make away games. I don’t want any parent to feel guilty. Some parents aren’t as fortunate as we are when it comes to work schedules. I know that. So part of the rationale behind our crazy road trips is to support the other kids on the team whose parents can’t make the trip. And I’m finding out it’s beneficial.
This year, Haylee ran XC for the first time. I was excited for her. I love to trail run. I wanted to see her race, support the others on the team, and be there for Coach Nickleberry, if needed. There were a couple of girls on the varsity team that, consequently, also play on Haylee’s JV basketball team. They expressed to me how appreciative they were that I’d come watch them, cheer them on, bring them fruit and water, as well as take action shots with my camera. That meant a lot to me. It told me that my presence mattered to more than just my kids. Consequently, those same two girls are the ones who speak to me every time they see me and give me a hug after nearly every basketball game. Being engaged in what our youth are doing matters.
I’m sure we will continue to exhaust ourselves by running the roads, burning fuel and cheering for our teams, but we will refuse to think it is for nothing. It matters, and I’m honored to be afforded the opportunity.