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Top Notch Parents and Second String Kids

My husband was and still is an all-star when it comes to sports – any sports. Every game, strategy, complex understanding – He’s got it. A little practice, hours of reading and watching videos – he can overcome any sport. Baseball, golf, basketball, football, etc. Give him a few weeks and he could be a lights out gymnast. Do not tell him I said this though; I do not need to encourage any more sports.


But me? There is a difference in enjoying sports and being great.


I was a lights out bench player in high school. Second string, second row, back up, alternative – whatever you want to call it – that is where I thrived. Not because I sucked – listen I still made the team, okay! But I was not the first, the best, or coach’s choice. I usually got the team spirit award though ;)


I played volleyball. Well, mainly I was in charge of the team’s morale and being the loudest bench player you have ever met; but I worked REALLY hard. I loved playing, I loved being a part of the team, and I enjoyed the sport. I started one game my senior year (senior’s night – so they kind of had to right?) I even played on a travel volleyball team where we flew to Minnesota to play in Nationals – and I got 3 minutes of play time for all that time and money (sorry mom and dad!)


I was in the Marching Band. But because volleyball overlapped into band practice, I sat the side lines until someone dropped out, missed too many, or got hurt, and then I filled their spot! Sometimes I would fill in day of – maybe some people noticed the saxophone in the clarinet section my sophomore year – maybe not. My junior and senior year I became first chair Tenor Saxophone – but it was in the second of three seated orchestras, and I was the only Tenor Saxophonist…. But there is my claim to first.


If you knew me in high school, you knew how competitive I was – but looking back I am sure there was a lot of people who did not understand my acceptance of being an awesome second rate athlete.


I was and still am competitive. I work my tail off in everything I do. I try really really hard; but I am mediocre at most things --- and that is okay.


Did you hear me?

THAT IS OKAY!


Maybe you feel down because your coworker is always one step ahead – continue to work your tail off – someone hears you screaming from the bench my friend.

Maybe you ache for your husband because he keeps trying to make the next rank or promotion but struggles in reaching that goal – cheer him on and remind him how proud you are of him in showing others hard work and resilience.

Maybe you feel sorry for your son because he tries out for the basketball team every year – but hardly ever plays in a game – keep pushing him to practice and be a part of the team!


Maybe you shelter your daughter from cheerleader tryouts because you know how clumsy she is and you are afraid she will not make the team – let her try out – and be there for her whether she gets cut, becomes the manager, or blossoms into the team captain.


In a world where only “being first” matters; know your strengths. If you are second – be the best second there ever was. If you are last – make everyone else have to strive even harder to stay ahead of you.


Everyone has strengths and weaknesses – this is a topic we have to go over with our kids daily now. We must remind them that just because they are not “great” at math does not mean they just need to succumb to failing. Find what you are great at, and be good at everything else. Make an A in drawing and a C in math – who cares?! As long as they (and you) work hard – it is and will be okay. I know there are some perfectionist, control mommas out there who are cringing right now.


My mom (who I am extremely proud of) is a perfectionist in so many ways – if you know her you know she hardly ever fails. She is on top of things, a detail critic, and strives to make everything better. She is awesome at leading so many people – and if she did not have such a heart for making minimal money as THE. BEST. DIRECTOR. of her church preschool – she would be making millions as a CEO somewhere. But she is humble and follows God’s prompting to flourish where she is.


I think back to her when I was in high school. She and dad tried to make it to every volleyball game – where their little girl sat the bench. They budgeted to send me to volleyball camps and play on a travel team that went to Nationals (think plane ride, hotel, uniforms, etc) to cheer me on for a grand total of 3 minutes. She listened to me practice saxophone (not really a quiet instrument) and picked me up from every late night band practice. They came to every football game; half of which I stood on the sideline playing my part that no one could hear; the other half trying to scan the band for a saxophone out of place. They wore every volleyball and band t-shirt imaginable with pride. They did every fundraiser with a smile on their face.


Each year she would ask “Do you want to do this?” I would grumble and complain and think twice – but eventually say “yes” and she jumped in with me.


It breaks my heart to see any kid without a parent in the stands. There are some lights out, first string, God given talent players with their parents not in the stands. And here I was with lights out parents, top notch support, God given humility – cheering on their second string daughter.


If you were to see my senior year high school yearbook, there are 5 single pictures on the front of our classmates. The top athletes and students… and for some reason there is a picture of me on the volleyball court. What comedic yearbook editor captured my two minutes of fame that one night and then thought I was worthy to be on the front cover I have no idea. I literally laughed out loud when I got our yearbooks – and I am sure everyone else did too. There were girls on my team who had scholarships to anywhere they wanted, have played volleyball since they were two, and worked their tails off to be the best. And there I was, crouched ready to return a ball – which I most likely shanked when it came to me on the few nights I was on the court in nervousness. Ironic, right?


Do not read this wrong and think you can settle or allow your family to fail.

No.


Push them – make them THRIVE in exactly where they are right now! Cheer on your spouse’s small raise and prepare them for the next one. Sit down and strive for that C in math and work hard alongside them to keep it up. Be the first and the last player there even when you have not played the last 5 games. Help the host clean her kitchen long after the party guests have left. Have the biggest sign ready to support your friend as she finishes a half marathon in last place of her age group.


We have got to get better; myself included.

We do not have to be first.

We can be last.



But let’s be the best last place person ever. Let’s make everyone ahead of us work that much harder to not be last.


And go meet my parents, they are awesome.

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