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I recently attended our high school swim and dive team’s awards ceremony in The Woodlands, Texas. It was exciting to be there with my three high school swimmers!

After awarding the state champions and the graduating seniors, Coach Wade said: “Athletes, now please stand up, face your parents, and give them a round of applause for all that they do.” The kids begrudgingly got up and applauded.

It was nice to have our work acknowledged too, even if but just a minute!

This gesture invited me to stroll down memory lane, recalling that when I was a young athlete, I didn’t realize the true depth of the financial, emotional, and logistics mechanism that was built around the practice of my sport and that was instrumental for my success.

 Even while competing at the Olympics, I only had a vague sense of what my parents had done to make that possible. It wasn’t until much later – when I became a sports parent myself – that I truly got the gist of it.

So I’d like to take this moment to thank all sports parents in the world, beginning with mine, for everything you do. If your child understood right now what I know he or she eventually will, here’s what he’d say to you:

 1. Thank you for helping me choose a sport that I love

Even though some parents get carried away with enthusiasm for a particular sport they want their kids to practice and forget to listen to them, this is usually based on good intentions and happens for one of three reasons:

  1. It’s the sport I practiced and loved, so if you practice it, we will be connected.
  2. You are incredibly talented at it, so you have potential to make it to the very top.
  3. It is such a beautiful sport – of course you love every day in it!

Most parents want to see their children both enjoy their sport and be wildly successful, so they put in a lot of effort helping and guiding their kids.

 2. Thank you for being there when I am scared.

From fear of falling off the beam to getting tackled to missing the last-second shot, young athletes often feel scared, and their parents help them overcome that. In some cases, an injury can leave deep scars and the physical ones may heal way faster than mental/emotional ones.  Other times, fear of losing an important game, not being recruited by a top school, or not winning a scholarship can be difficult to overcome. Parents’ help by way of words of encouragement, patience, lots of hugs, and sometimes, what seems like a small fortune in physical therapy or private lessons, is something to be truly grateful for. 

3.  Thank you for taking me to practice every day

Taking kids to sports training is something that millions of parents around the world have in common. Let’s play with the numbers: a soccer player who trains 20 sessions per month from ages 8 to 14, will have accumulated 1,680 training sessions by the time she turns 15. That’s a lot of driving!

Consistency is key to athletic performance, and I know that many parents are also teaching discipline as they take their kids to practice day in and day out.

So, thank you, Mom and Dad!

I know that most student-athletes are too young to understand the sacrifices that parents make for them, but trust me, one day, they will.