There are moments, when IT suddenly hits you. For months, years – you’ve noticed something is a little off, something is not right but you just cant put your finger on it. Then one day while you are in a beginner gymnastics class (yes gymnastics class) it hits you like Simone Biles dismounted from the vault on your face. And you see the light.
There are a ton, and we mean a TON of things that we are getting right with youth athletics. One of our MAIN GOALS around here is to get girls active,and playing – and if you choose another or additional sports beyond softball, well…we got your back. We love it! In fact, we encourage it. Try golf, and lacrosse and soccer and volleyball, and archery and whatever your little heart desires. Do it! It’s the only way to not have regrets, to round out our children, to let THEM find out WHO they are and what THEY love!
But ultimately, always keep in mind that what children love most is their family watching them, approving of them, encouraging them, cheering them on!
And you don’t want to wake up one day when your oldest kids are 20 and feel the thrust of a kick in your jaw from Simone Biles/ dismount.
Which gets us to our main point!
A 10-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 15-year-old is NOT TOO OLD to learn to play something new. They are not too old to learn. They are not to old to join a team, and challenge themselves to take on a new adventure.
Most coaches out there are shaking their heads, reviewing the “resumes” from their most recent tryout, tossing the paperwork of the 11 year olds who have never played before in a trash pile. What do you mean you don’t have any experience? Go join a Rec League and learn the game and then come back.
The problem is that the Rec Leagues are dying while every Tom, Diane, Harry and Harriet are paying for insurance and uniforms and calling it a team. Meanwhile, there is a whole lot of potential talent being cast aside because they lack experience.
There are a lot of 10 year olds who have trouble finding a gymnastics class for their age because they have never done gymnastics.
There are a lot of 13 year olds who have grown out of their awkwardness and suddenly spiked an interest in something new….only to find it impossible to find the opportunity.
And whether you believe it or not, this is a NEW problem.
Back in “the day” most kids didn’t find their niche sport, until they were in highschool. They didn’t specialize. They didn’t commit to one thing at an age when they can barely commit to taking showers when they really really need to.
We (And yes WE as the adult are doing this) are committing our children to specialize and therefore closing lots of doors of opportunity that will NEVER EVER be opened again after graduation and high school.
I’m as guilty as anyone. I wanted my daughters to be good…wait…no great – so I was constantly trying to align them with that goal, I always just assumed since they seemed to love it so much that was their goal as well. They bought in. They LOVED (and still LOVE) softball. But there are so many things that they didn’t get to do. They didnt have the time to decide on a whim one day while watching gymnastics on ESPN that they wanted to learn how to do some of those things.
We have no intention of making anyone feel guilty.
We are a softball family, so we know the struggle. We know the pressure. We know how it catches you up in a whirlwind and nothing else seems to be able to fit into your life. But we also know, from lots of time and experience – that there is MORE to life than softball.
There is absolutely NOT a place for every athlete collegiately. Simple math tells us that. Softball does not pay much for the vast majority, especially compared to other sports. Being on an elite team that requires a loan or second mortgage, with 17 other girls where playing time may be limited is not fun for everyone. Not every kid loves the pressure. It is not worth the sacrifice for ALL children, they cannot be painted with the same brush.
Some 10 year olds may want to sign up for gymnastics. Some 16 year olds may want to play softball and have a job without giving up on the entire dream. There are 14 year olds who may have never pitched a day in their life who with hard work and commitment have the ability to be awesome. (We have seen that happen with our own eyes)
If we are being 100% honest, there are a lot of elementary and middle school kids who still love to pretend with their toys. They dream of being so many things in life, and we tell them GO! DO! You can be anything! But then when it comes to sports we tell them they are too old. Or we tell them they have softball lessons, or hitting lessons, or a tournament…
There are of course and as always two sides to all of this. But 10 year olds should be able to take beginner gymnastics classes. 13 year olds should still be able to play softball if they really want to play.
These kids should have the time to spread their wings, WITHOUT the unnecessary pressure of people worrying they will get behind in life, or not make a verbal to LSU.
My 16 year old, who is an avid softball player and who also plays other sports said today, “I wish I would have stayed with basketball, too!” I told her she should play…and she said, “I am too old now!”
Y’all! Childhood. They only get one shot at this.
Something to think about…How many college students do you know who have changed their major? Multiple times? Orwho have completed a degree program only to change their mind?