Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Driving the Driven

sept 10 2008 gymnastics Julia 002

Another year of extracurricular activities officially kicked off with the start of gymnastics.

Next week we add diving, which L has been participating in so long that we’re all as familiar with every nook and cranny of the pool complex as we are with our own house. Jay practically grew up there.

Soon Tee’s basketball starts as well.

Not to bore anyone with the tiresome scheduling details, let’s just say that from 4 till 8:30 every single weeknight, I’ll be driving hither, yither and non. It’s common practice in my parenting circle for families to overschedule in this way, and it’s one of the (many) things I swore I’d never do with my own kids. Yet here we are, rushing around every evening, all hectic and scattered. Partly, it’s to do with having four children. Partly it’s having to do with four children who share none of the same scheduled activities. Really, I envy parents who’ve managed to breed entire families of say, competitive swimmers. One stop shopping would be nice. Dropping them all of in a herd, and going home to a lovely supper before picking them all back up again. Going to one main event with all of the kids competing, instead of sometimes having to miss one child’s event because of a conflicting one. I could, I guess, insist that they limit themselves to one activity each, but I’ve only done that with oldest son once, and only because I really and truly couldn’t manage the driving.

I’ve often said to Miss L that if I’d known when she was 6 and interested in becoming a diver that it would involve such an extreme level of commitment from her, and more distressingly, me, that I would have balked and signed her up for community hip-hop classes instead. I had no interest in any of the kids becoming competitive athletes or of being a “diving mom”. Even now, I would choose free, unstructured time over such regimented activities if it wasn’t for the crystal clear evidence of each child’s huge enjoyment in what they’ve chosen to do.

I have learned a few lessons along the way though. When Jay begged to take gymnastics classes, and I saw the pint-sized bundle of determination that she was, I had visions of her training 25 hours a week at age 7 in an obsessive quest for the Olympics, so I said okay to the classes only if she understood that she was not to enter the competitive stream. It hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm for the sport any, but hopefully she’s doing it purely for fun, not for any dreams of glory.

On the other hand, it’s possible that she just out-thunk me. She asked to take diving “like her big sister” this year, possibly because she rightly guessed that I couldn’t allow one child to compete in a particular sport without allowing it for another child. I’m guessing that a competitive drive finds an outlet.

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Dive Meet Day Two


Another long day at the pool. I find it quite amazing that these kids do what they do. I try to imagine myself at age 10 or 11, and I’m quite sure that I would have caved under the self-imposed pressure to succeed. Even now, the thought of performing like that, in front of critical judges and stands (semi)full of spectators makes me feel a little queasy. It’s not like a team sport, where the action is continuous and the responsibilty is shared amongst many players. No sirree. That diver is up on those boards alone, and there’s no one to blame if the dive doesn’t go well. Luckily, L and her team mates seem okay with it. I angst and worry on their behalf, but they take the ups and the downs with surprising aplomb.  

I kept telling other parents that I don’t feel nervous when L dives, and I really thought that was true, but after her 3M event today I had such a headache that it could only have come from the tremendous internal tension I was denying. It vanished shortly after, which just adds weight to that theory. Too bad those massage tables were off limits to parent volunteers…..


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Training For Life

DSCN1474Miss L has a diving competition this weekend. It’s an annual event put on by the diving club in this city, a national qualifying event, with about 200 divers from all across Canada competing. It’s run by parent volunteers (of course), so I’ll be there for all three days, soaking in the chloriney smells, and exulting in the jostling, squealing exuberance of the athletes. I know enough from previous years to prepare in advance by taking an extra-strength Tylenol with my hearty breakfast, and taking care to stay hydrated during the day, but I’m fully expecting an extra-strength headache to firmly lodge itself behind my eyes by about hour three.

That being said, L’s excitement is contagious, and I’m looking forward to watching her compete. She’s been diving since she was 6, when she saw the divers do their thing at the pool and begged to take a class. By the time she was 8 or so she was diving competitively, and she’s been training 12 hours a week since then. She’s been to Edmonton, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Montreal, Regina, and Orlando with the club, has competed in age-group nationals, and last summer got a chance to dive in the Western Canada Summer Games.

I’m so proud of her. I’ve seen her overcome tremendous fear and make it through some pretty harrowing incidents on the board. Last year she was learning a new dive off the 3M springboard, a reverse double back somersault with a half twist or some such thing, and for some reason, the thought of doing this particular dive gave her the heebie jeebies. For weeks leading up to it she worried about it, and on the drive home from practice every day I heard her say how scared she was to do it. When the fateful day finally arrived, I happened to be in the stands, and I saw her first attempt. She stood at the end of the board for what seemed like forever, clenching and unclenching her fists. A couple of times she made as if to go, and then hesitated. She looked on the verge of tears, and I felt sick at the sight of fear on her face. I almost stood up and told her not to do it, that it wasn’t such a big deal, but I didn’t. I just sat there, internally cringing. Her decision, I thought. Gotta stay out of it.

The hemming and hawing went on interminably, the coach looking up, coaxing, the other divers beginning to pay attention, the stands growing silent. More fist clenching, more brow furrowing, and a few more false starts. Then a look of determination passed across her face, I saw her whisper something to herself, she took two slow, deliberate breaths, threw back her shoulders……. and did it.

Eruptions of applause from the rest of the divers, and a huge beaming smile when she surfaced. I was absolutely overcome with pride. She had been SO scared, and she had done it. She’d been all alone on that board, faced that fear all by herself, talked herself past what must have been the overwhelming desire to say she couldn’t do it, and done it. This kid will be able to do anything now I thought. Nothing in her life will seem insurmountable after repeated experiences like this one. What a kid.

She had scary dives before, and she’s had them since, but this one stuck out in my head. I still get goosebumply when I remember it.

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A Fact of Life


Gymnasiums have terrible light.

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Here’s the big girl, all of eleven years old. Having post-school snack, in her half hour between school and diving practice. She dives from 5 till 8 every evening….an hour of dryland training and two hours of pool time. This is her first year of full-time school AND diving, and it’s a lot. She sure enjoys her weekends off!

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