Being the mother of an athlete is a challenging yet rewarding role. At momsTEAM we think sports moms deserve to be honored, not just on the second Sunday in May, but for an entire month. So we have designated May as National Sports Moms Month and invited some veteran sports moms to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions. We will post a new blog for every day of May, which we hope you will find interesting, empowering, and informative, and that you will share them with your family and friends.
Today we hear from Meagan Frank, a hockey mom of three, soccer coach, and writer.
momsTEAM: Were you an athlete and what sports did you play as a youth (under 19)?
Frank: Being an athlete was practically my entire identity as a kid. Starting when I was five, I played soccer, basketball, softball, and volleyball. I swam on the summer swim team, and I competed in both gymnastics and track. I played football at recess with the boys and on many summer days, I could be found across the street from my house riding my bike on the dirt path through the field. The most competitive sports I played were basketball and soccer, and I had the opportunity to play both in college.
momsTEAM: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports mom?
Frank: The most rewarding thing about being a sports mom is having the chance to watch our kids grow through sports. Of course I get to watch them grow physically taller, stronger, and faster, to compete better year after year, but that's not the kind of growth that is most rewarding. I love watching their foreheads crinkle when they are determined to learn something that is really difficult to do, and then to see their entire face light up when they've finally mastered it. "Mom...come watch this," they'll yell from the yard, or the basement.
As a mom, I'm the one they call to come celebrate these little achievements, and then, if that skill "magically" appears when they are training at practice or competing in a game, I can be the one to remind them about how much work it took for them to accomplish it. It is an awesome responsibility, and privilege.
momsTEAM: What lesson has your sports active child taught you?
Frank: Our active kids have taught me that I only really have one job on the sideline as their parent: to love them unconditionally. They feel comfortable and excited to pursue their sports when they know that I love them no matter how well they do. Coaches should push them, opponents should challenge them, games should force them to reach deep within, and I've learned that my job as their mom is to celebrate them for being exactly who they are. I'm the only one who knows them as well as I do, and when they go out to face the adversity that is inevitable in sports competition, they are emboldened by the confidence that I will always be there, offering any support they might need.
momsTEAM: What is the most important lesson your child is learning from his/her sport?
Frank: Hockey is the most competitive sport for our kids right now, and there is something unique and special about learning to play hockey. It is hard! Watching our littlest learn to skate last year, I counted her falling down 100 times in a one-hour practice. 100 times!! Not one of the sports I played ever knocked me down that much. It struck me that all hockey players start by learning to fall. But the falling is not what impresses me the most; it's the fact that kids learning to play hockey fall, but they get up each and every time.
Hockey is teaching our kids the fundamental skills, for sure, but it is also teaching them determination, resilience, will-power, sportsmanship, work ethic, self-confidence, and team work. That's what sports should do for kids. As a sports mom I enjoy watching that character develop right alongside their physical strength and athleticism.
momsTEAM: If you could "flip a switch" and change one thing about the culture of youth sports what would it be?
Frank: The culture of youth sports deserves positive attention from the best and brightest in education. Youth sports should be regarded as hallowed teaching ground, in my opinion. Unfortunately, there are crazy parents, political battles in associations, over-training, early specialization for kids, and it is absolutely true that many sports are quickly becoming too expensive for a lot of families to participate. If I could flip a switch about anything having to do with youth sports, I would make it accessible to all kids, and I would find a way to make EVERY DECISION about providing a positive sports experience for ALL KIDS.
momsTEAM: What have you done to make sports better for kids? Please share.
Frank: I have spent the better part of nine months studying the youth sports culture for the book I am writing, Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It. I hope I've had a positive impact on the lives of lots of kids by volunteer coaching, volunteering time for our local hockey board, and by conducting myself as a positive sports parent. I'm also currently working with the launch committee to open an office of Positive Coaching Alliance here in Minnesota.
Meagan Frank is the author of the Choosing to Grow series, a national speaker, athlete, coach, and mother of three. A 1997 graduate of Colorado College, Meagan was a four-year starter and senior captain on the Division I women's soccer team and lettered in Division III women's basketball. She was a skills trainer for an elite, competitive soccer club in Denver and head coach of two premier-level girls' soccer teams at the U-15 and U-17 age levels, and coached the University of Wisconsin-Stout women's soccer team for five seasons.
A freelance writer and published author, Meagan is currently working on her second book, Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It. She has committed a full year to research including collecting data via a youth sports survey, conducting in-person interviews, and learning from the best and brightest in the field of youth sports. She is currently working to establish a Twin Cities chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance as a PCA Champion.
Meagan and her husband Paul, an assistant men's hockey coach at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, live in Woodbury, Minnesota, with their three children. All three kids play hockey: Nate is their eleven-year-old peewee, Haley is nine and a goalie for a U10 team, and six-year-old Kiana is the only girl on an otherwise all-boys mite 2 team. For more on Meagan, please visit her website and Facebook page. You can follow Meagan on Twitter @choosingtogrow.
For more blogs in momsTEAM's May is Sports Moms Month series, click here.