Pepper For The Win!

I love sports. I am a big fan of athletic competitions. Sports were a big part of my identity as a young man, and the lessons I learned as a teammate have helped me tremendously as an educator and husband. My wife feels the same. We both played competitive sports for years. My wife even played at the collegiate level. I was recruited to run track for a Division 1 institution, but I decided to focus on my studies. No, seriously. O.k. and other things, too. :) Anyway, we have numerous family members who have played collegiate athletics. My father played hoops. I even have a grandfather who was a pro fighter. Genetics might be on our side. We both want our daughter to play sports. We view them as not only fun, but great for exercise. The lessons she can learn through sportsmanship, teamwork, and winning and losing can be life altering. 

As a long time basketball coach, I know what it looks like to be an over the top crazed parent in the stands. We will not be those parents. However, I worry about putting pressure on Camilla. Nothing would please me more than to have her be the next Diana Taurasi or Candace Parker on the basketball court. As much as I enjoyed being an athlete, it has been much more rewarding to be a coach and cheer. I'm sure that being a parent and watching my girl cross over a defender and leave her with some heavily damaged ankles would bring me much happiness. I definitely want my daughter to enjoy life and find things that interest her. Legal things, so don't get it twisted.  But will I be disappointed if sports is not one of those interests? Perhaps. (Can I make that a strong perhaps.) However, what I want most is for her to find a passion. It can be art, politics, music, outer space, or teaching. I just want my daughter to develop a passion for something and hopefully have a positive impact on society. Until that happens, we'll let her try her hand at a number of things, including sports and ballet. 

You know what though? It has been interesting to watch Camilla in soccer class. She has been taking soccer for about a year, and she certainly shows grit and resolve if not talent. She is currently in a soccer class where she is the only girl. The boys are unfortunately lacking any discipline. In addition, they have not been very friendly or cooperative. Camilla does not appreciate that, as she is a kind, thoughtful young girl. But, she can hold her own. Recently, she was kicking the ball in a drill and it went towards a boy without a ball. He proceeded to take Camilla's ball and dribble away. My daughter yelled, "Hey, that's my ball," and grabbed the ball. The boy then started to wrestle with Camilla for the ball. My much smaller daughter did not relinquish the ball until one of the coaches arrived. Nice to see she can hold her own. 

What else has been interesting is her coaching. Most of her coaches have been fantastic. Patient. Funny. Helpful. But, there have been a couple who have treated her in a very patronizing fashion. The usual sign is that they will hold her hand during drills and not hold the hand of any of the boys in the class. This video is an example of this. 

This coach, unfortunately, did not let Camilla have a chance to make mistakes or take some time to work her way through a drill. He chose to hold her hand and walk her through everything. Before even seeing her skill level. To me, it seemed he treated her differently, because she is a girl. It shouldn't surprise you that I had something to say to this coach after class. I am always respectful, but it is imperative that people are made aware of how we treat girls and boys. We don't want our daughter to think she is less than anyone else. 

We will see how sports works out for Camilla. She will inevitably be impacted by where we decide to live, her school, her friends, and her family. I would not be devastated at all if she takes her talents to something else. It will be exciting to support her passion, especially one that I am not as familiar with, because she could teach me something new. But, it would be really cool to be in the stands when she hits a buzzer beater to score her 1000th career point. Pepper for the win!

Posted on May 13, 2014 .