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K.C. Wilder (Performance Coach): Learned From Kids That No Such Thing As Failure In Sports

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Being the mother of an athlete is a challenging yet rewarding role. So, in 2012, MomsTEAM designated May as Sports Moms Month and celebrated by asking some of our favorite sports moms to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions.

Today, we hear from former professional cyclist, certified sports trainer, performance coach and sports mom, K.C. Wilder:

 MomsTEAM: Were you an athlete and what sports did you play as a youth (under 19)?

K.C. Wilder and family

Wilder: My mother, Christina McSweeney Wilder, rode her bicycle 28 miles to and from school everyday. Born in County, Cork, Taur Newmarket, my mother was raised on a farm and was one of 10 children. From an early age, her bicycle was her mode of transportation. My father, Joel B. Wilder, was a track athlete in high school. He excelled at the 400-meter run. As the youngest of six children, I was competitive, so that I could participate in games in our backyard. I was very fortunate that, when I was six years old, my parents built a "sport-court" that was lit at night. I have many fond memories of lessons learned in sportsmanship, conflict resolution and having a healthy competitive attitude on our own private sport court. I played many different sports with my siblings and neighborhood children. Similar to my mom's experience with a bicycle, I was aware at an early age that the bicycle could provide independence and a tremendous sense of freedom. I rode my bicycle to friends' houses, to our town center and to school.

In high school, I was captain of field hockey, indoor track and outdoor track. I earned 11 varsity letters and many dual-county league championships in the 800-meter run, and 1,000-meter run. For field hockey, I was on the Junior Olympic team and found myself being recruited the summer before my senior year by Brown, Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Boston College, Bucknell and Umass. I chose Brown University as my first "pick" and was on its Varsity squad as a freshman. My senior year at Brown, I was one of the captains of the Brown Field Hockey Team and I discovered the triathlon, and qualified for the Triathlon National Championships that year in Hilton Head, N.C.

MomsTEAM: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports mom?

Wilder: The most rewarding aspect to me of being a sports mom is to watch my two boys be incredibly passionate in their sports experiences. Our nine-year-old son is playing many different sports, from karate, lacrosse, running, baseball, cycling, tennis, golf and K.C. Wilder and her kidsswimming. Our six-year-old is enamored with everything baseball. Every facet of the game fascinates him. I was interested in promoting family fitness and wellness at my children's school; therefore, I was the Race Director for three years, for a 5K and one-mile run at my children's school.

MomsTEAM: What lesson has your sports active child taught you?

Wilder: My sports children have taught me how to be patient, accepting and loving in the sports environment. Early childhood sports experiences are truly about the passion and the process. I have learned to let my children experience and discover as many active sports experiences as possible. They ski, mountain bike, rock climb, play tennis, golf, swim, sail, you name the sport and it is my hope that they will be open to trying the sport. There is no such thing as failure in youth sports. Our children are free of fear of failure in sport. It is a beautiful perspective to try to see sports and sometimes life through the eyes of my children.momsTEAM: What is the most important lesson your child is learning from his/her sport?

MomsTEAM: What is the most important lesson your child is learning from his/her sport?

Wilder: I hope that my children will learn the lessons of integrity, challenge, responsibility, and balance through their sports experiences. The lessons are four basic ones.

  1. Integrity: Being honest with oneself and others is a foundation for a healthy life.
  2. Challenge: It is important to feel challenged in order to feel connected to what you're doing in life. When you find challenges in life and ways to become engaged in your life, you find flow. Having flow in life means you are happy and thriving.
  3. Responsibility: Set goals and find ways to "feel" the way that you want to feel everyday. Exercise personal choice and act on your own freewill; and
  4. Balance: Be well balanced and pursue your interests with intensity.

MomsTEAM: If you could "flip a switch" and change one thing about the culture of youth sports what would it be?


Wilder: I would like to see more youth instructional leagues and academies. I would prefer that children under 12 do not specialize in one sport. If the emphasis could be on the "process" of the game and not the outcome, then the instructional leagues could stop play and explain how to execute a play that would be effective. Fewer games and more practice and scrimmages would help facilitate the process-oriented approach of excellence in sport.K.C. Wilder and golf student

MomsTEAM: Here's a chance to brag a little: what have you done to make sports better for kids?

Wilder: As a performance coach, I have worked with many youth athletes to harness confidence, gain a mental edge, reduce performance anxiety, gain resilience and develop healthy competitive mindsets. I have coached tennis at the high school level, coached track and field at the middle school level, and been an on-site performance expert at Nike Golf Schools. For three years, I served as the Race Director for a 5k at my son's school and I have done youth workshops for organizations such as: Girls on the Run, Total Soccer and The Girl Scouts, to name a few.

K.C. Wilder, Ph.D., is a former college cycling All-American, two-time national masters short track cycling champion, and professional cyclist, certified sports trainer and performance consultant. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with her husband, two sons and yellow lab. You can follow her on Twitter @KCWilder, or visit her website at www.drkcwilder.com or her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kathryn.c.wilder.