Being the mother of an athlete is a challenging yet rewarding role. So momsTEAM has designated May as Sports Moms Month and is celebrating by asking some of our favorite sports moms to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions.
So far this month we have heard from a mom of an Olympic athlete, two sports moms who were themselves Olympic athletes (one a gold medalist), an award-winning health and safety reporter for the Chicago Tribune, the mom of two former minor league baseball players, a mom and writer from Texas with a football-crazy son and cheerleader daughter, and a Minnesota hockey mom and author.
Today we hear from Nancy Clark, momsTEAM's nutrition expert and best-selling author of books on sports nutrition.
momsTEAM: Were you an athlete and what sports did you play as a youth (under 19)?
Clark: I grew up before Title IX, when girls were "tomboys," not athletes. I enjoyed sports in high school (field hockey being my favorite; basketball and soccer lower on the list). In college, I mostly enjoyed hiking, biking, and skiing. I considered myself athletic but not an "athlete."
momsTEAM: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports mom?
Clark: The most rewarding aspect of being a sports mom is seeing my kids develop into confident people who are able to think straight in stressful situations. I marvel at the poise of my son, a pitcher and catcher from Little League through high school, and the quick thinking of my daughter, an ice hockey and lacrosse player.
momsTEAM: What lesson has your sports active child taught you?
Clark: My kids have taught me about the fun that comes with being part of a team and the value of loyalty.
momsTEAM: What is the most important lesson your child is learning from his/her sport?
Clark: My children, one now post-college and the other a college junior, have learned that exercise is not only fun but also a good way to relieve stress. They are also learning that if you don't play a sport, you have to figure out some way to maintain an active lifestyle. The body feels better when it moves around (as opposed to gets locked in front of a screen).
momsTEAM: If you could "flip a switch" and change one thing about the culture of youth sports what would it be?
Clark: I get frustrated by the dominating force that practices and games have on family time and family vacations. In an ideal world, if I could make changes in youth sports, I would limit all organized sports to Mondays and Wednesdays after school between 3:00 and 6:00 pm, and on Saturday mornings between 9:30 and 12:30. Ideally, the kids' weeks would then stop revolving around practices, and they would have the freedom to play pick-up sports instead, like we used to do years ago. I would ban team sports on Sunday mornings, when the family has to choose between church and sports.
momsTEAM: What have you done to make sports better for kids? Please share.
Clark: I have done my best to make sports better for kids by teaching them the importance of fueling properly for an active lifestyle. I have also tried to educate parents about engineered sports foods, so they can make wise decisions for their young kids. Many parents have enjoyed my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD, is a board-certified sports dietitian and the author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook and Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes From the Pros. Both are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com. Her private nutrition practice is in Newton, Massachusetts.
For more blogs in momsTEAM's May is Sports Moms Month series, click here.