Friday, December 14, 2018
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KIDS MAY BENEFIT FOR GETTING THERE THE HARD WAY

“I want my son to play in club sports and have all the benefits of better coaching and competition, but I just can’t afford it.”

I think that this is a common and legitimate concern for many parents. There might be some truth to the fact that those kids who have parents that can afford all the club fees and private one on one lessons might have an advantage.

They play year round and specialize in one sport and do become very good at it. It is hard to deny this advantage. So, what do all the others do who can’t afford the life style of the rich and famous? Do they just throw in the towel and give up? Is there an answer?

Don’t give in, just find another path. Yes, it may be a harder road to the top, but still worth it.

I am always impressed when I see kids playing at the high school level who have taken that hard road to get there. They had to work extra hard, but they did it.

It is this kind of kid that you want on the team. These are the kids you want to take the game winning shot at the buzzer. They have proven that they can make it happen when all others might have given up. They know how to give the extra effort to get the win.

The kids I have known in this kind of a situation also have been a delight to their coaches. Not only did they work hard, but they were also very coachable. They did all that was asked of them without complaining. Their contagious “team effort” dynamic helped to create a healthy team environment.  They went to the school of “hard knocks”. They found their own outdoor court or a grass field. They rounded up the neighbors and went out and just played. They didn’t even pack their good shoes in their gym back with their name written on it.

They didn’t have any other shoes, and they didn’t own a gym bag.

They took dads’ old baseball glove and bat and found a friend and walked to the park. They found a wall and drew the strike zone on it with a piece of chalk. Then they took turns pitching one against the other playing a full 9 innings and using “imaginary runners on the bases after each hit.

Oh, and the best part of all, they also became their own announcers, broadcasting each pitch and each hit as if the whole world was watching them.

And then they had to go get the ball after each hit because they only had one.

And what about those that played one on one basketball on that old beat up rim with a wooden backboard that was torn up and withered.  The hot asphalt ground would swish around like mush as they made hard cuts to the left and to the right.  They too would play out the whole game. They would play out that last second buzzer beating shot that won the game over and over again.

Then there were the tennis players that only needed a brick wall. They didn’t even need a friend. They would hit the ball for hours back and forth against that wall. Forehand, backhand, forehand, backhand…

The quarterback and his receiver creating their own made up patterns:  “run 10 steps, go around the tree, then cut back to the swing set, and then curl in to the right.”

The soccer kids who took their shirts off to make the corners of their made up goal; shooter vs. goalkeeper for hours.

Who needs money when you have an imagination, desire, self-motivation, dad’s old equipment, 1 pair of shoes and a t-shirt?

There is a lucky high school coach and team waiting for the arrival of these financially challenged families. And, maybe a real life “buzzer beater” to win the state title!

Questions or comments? Email Tom Kuyper @ tomkuyper@kidsandsports.com

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