I competed in a triathlon, once.
By compete, I mean, I read the account and admired pictures from a favorite blogger who did. I’ve been there in spirit, though. Cynthia writes a blog called You Signed Up for What?!? And I got in on the bottom floor. First post, second comment, even.
First she responded to. The date: April 4, 2013.
Cynthia started her first post with these words:
I guess here it is – this is me writing my first post. Ta-da.
So I finally did what I’ve been wanting to do forever: I signed up for my first triathlon.
Two years later, her blog chronicles how a busy working mom of three navigates. Not in a ‘look at me’ way. In a ‘let’s roll’ sort of way. I associated with her right away. I recognized the struggle of trying to fit in fitness when lying still to eat cookies seems the best option.
She did, though. Now she’s a triathlete and a terrific writer.
She’s here to share her father’s influence on her sporting life. I love the perspective in it, the voice of the girl I hope to hear in my daughters. I wonder what they’ll remember of our father/daughter dance when they’re all grown up.
Welcome Cynthia to the CD. She’s a sustaining and adored presence from my own start here. It’s a special treat to have her words in my place today. Be sure to check out You Signed Up For What?!?, too.
Things My Dad Taught Me About Life and Sports
Hey everybody! I’m honored to be guest posting for the fabulous Eli here at Coach Daddy. Reading about his daughters, and the things he’s teaching them about sports and life, reminds me of my relationship with my dad.
Growing up, I tried really hard to be a “second son” for my dad in terms of sports and active stuff. But the things is, I wasn’t very good at the sports that he picked out for me.
He was my softball coach, and while I loved softball, I had no apparent talent for the sport. But I dedicated minutes, hours, days, weeks – years! – to playing softball on teams. I even joined the softball team in college, where I had a nice warm seat on the bench most of the time.
But I just loved to play. I loved the team atmosphere and I loved working hard at something, even if I wasn’t the best at it, and trying to get better.
Looking back at all those years with my dad not only coaching my teams but spending countless hours out at fields with me, willing me and encouraging me to get better, are some of the fondest memories of my life.
Sure, I might have been the most accident prone softball player there ever way (concussions, broken noses, sprained ankles – it ran the gamut!), but I stuck with it.
I think about all the things he’s taught me over the years – the list is long! – but from those years out on the field in particular.
Stick with it
If you’re struggling with a sport, stick with it. See it through. You may find joy and even success in it on the other side of the challenge.
Work as a team
Your team is depending on you. Don’t let them down.
Be a man
Wait, ummm… what? I’m clearly not a man. But yes, he used to yell this to me. Maybe he confused me with my brother, but when I was on the ground crying from the pain of a softball being laser-beamed from a bat directly to my ankle, this is what came out of his mouth. And while this is totally inappropriate verbiage in 2015, I think I know what he was going for in those moments: defy gender stereotypes. Defy expectations. Don’t play into the stereotype of “like a girl”. During this year’s Superbowl there was a wildly popular commercial showing what people thought of when the words “like a girl” were prompted. So while we don’t need to tell girls to be “like a man”, I believe the truth in his statement lies in the underlying message he wanted to convey: redefine “like a girl”. He was way ahead of his time, my dad.
Walk it off!
The same type of ankle injury would yield this gleeful shout from across the field. Walk it off! You’re hurt? Then run the bases! This was a really valuable lesson for me to learn. When I really just wanted to go sit down, or have someone coddle my random injury, he taught me to get back up and keep going. The ankle always feels better if you walk on it, and you’re mentally more prepared to jump back in the game with this attitude.
You don’t have to be the best, you just have to love what you’re doing. Sometimes kids and parents can get really competitive. And that’s fine for many, but I’ve learned that if you love what you’re doing and it’s fulfilling, this can be enough. I may have played “first bench” instead of first base in college softball, but I cheered my heart out for my team and I loved every second of being a part of it. The journey was the destination.
Even now, my dad is my inspiration, and apparently I am his through my life transformation into a runner and triathlete. I’m not the fastest person in the race by any means, and I’m not winning any awards, but my dad is at every race that he can possible attend. He doesn’t care that I’m not the best, he just loves that I work hard and I love what I’m doing. At age 41, he’s my biggest fan at a race, and he cheers as though I’ve won the half Ironman.
Father-daughter relationships through sports can be life changing. For both the father and the daughter.
So be that “Coach Daddy” to the young girl in your life. You don’t have to be the actual coach of an actual team, but you can be that person who supports them in their active endeavors and cheers as if they are the hero of your world.