Summer Sports: Lessons Learned from a Newbie Mom


This summer we thought we’d add to the madness and begin youth team sports. We picked track through our post’s recreation office, and we’re doing soccer through our city. Our thought was that track will give her endurance (fingers crossed), and soccer will help her work together with her team. She has already learned so much participating in youth sports this summer and so have I.

Here are a few things I’ve found out as a newbie team sports mom:

Parents are supportive

I remember some intense parents when I was in youth sports … sometimes mine. I have to say though, so far these parents have been playing nice in the sandbox. It could be that we all love the Alaskan sun warming us up after the winter and that we’re happy to see our child trying something new. Or maybe we are just a bunch of the most satisfied government employees you’ve ever met. Realistically, probably not that last one.

At every practice, I love to see the parents cheer. They’re cheering on their kids AND mine. We learned the names of the kids on the team and cheer for them as they come around the track. There’s been no mention of who won the race, just encouragement for each one as they spin round extra fast for when they throw the discus. I love to watch parents run the last hundred meters with their kindergartner.

My daughter’s first soccer game was in the pouring rain. I stood there huddled under an umbrella and talked to a mom from the opposing team who had driven from the town an hour and fifteen minutes away just for the soccer game. I watched her cheer for a girl on our team who made a great corner kick. I cheered for her son who threw the ball in and kept his feet on the ground. In this program, they aren’t keeping score. I know the competition will increase with age, but I enjoy cheering for all the kids as they develop new skills.

Setting Goals and Expectations

In my first season as a sports parent, I am deciding how I will behave at practices/games/meets.

My ultimate goal for my daughter this summer is for her to have fun and try something new. I keep reminding myself that mastery is not the goal. That’s impossible for a 6-year-old to achieve in just one season. Duh. But I will admit it can be hard to keep this in mind as your child or another almost scores a goal on their own goalie.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “I love to watch you play,” maybe overheard from another parent or in internet stories about parental support in youth sports. I make a conscious effort to say that phrase, and I really do love watching my daughter play. We’re adding that to our repertoire for after game conversation.

Tonight I didn’t do my best. I was annoyed when I should have been supportive, and I didn’t take the advice from Steve Henson, from The Post Game

The discussion on the ride home can be about a song on the radio or where to stop for a bite to eat. By the time you pull into the driveway, the relationship ought to have transformed from keenly interested spectator and athlete back to parent and child.

I didn’t cuss my daughter out about soccer tonight, but I know I can be a better supporter and not be a nag. I’m not the coach. Phew.

Coaches are amazing

My daughter’s track coach is AMPED. EVERY. SINGLE. PRACTICE. I do not know who he has stolen his energy from, but I want some. He runs with, chases and races with our kids as they give it their all

My daughter’s soccer coach is a great mix of encourager and a lion tamer. I can’t even say he has “tough love” because is it really tough love to remind the kids to look at the ball? I appreciate him giving a night up each week and a part of his Saturday to herd the cats who are our children. My daughter beams when he tells her he noticed how she got the ball from the defenders. I don’t think she knows what the term “defender” means yet, but she can tell from his tone that he’s proud of her, and I see her smile.

I appreciate that they are giving their time to teach my child about the sport and working together as a team.

Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) does awesome programs

If you live on or near a post or base, check in to their youth sports programs through the Morale Welfare and Recreation program. Our session of summer track was half the price of soccer through the city. I appreciate that MWR works to keep prices affordable for families so kids can try out activities. Here at Fort Wainwright, they have year-round sports, despite the insanely cold winters. We are planning on continuing soccer through the fall and trying indoor soccer in the winter.

I’ve only started this crazy sports train, but I’m excited for their abilities to grow and to support our girls as they try new things.