As we come to the conclusion of Christina’s first club volleyball season I find myself feeling very blessed for the amazing experience she had while a member of this team. The players, coaches and parents were all extremely positive and as a result Christina grew as a person and athlete. We are looking forward to her school season more than ever now! As I reminisce about this spring and the fun we have had watching her play I am reminded of the important skills that female athletes possess that prepare them for life beyond the gym or field.
Its tough being a woman in this world! We have careers, run households, raise children, volunteer and remain active in schools and our communities and do all this while trying to maintain a sense of self and reach our individual goals! Doesn’t that sound exhausting?!?
When considering my own experiences as an athlete and now raising daughters and coaching other female athletes, I have come to understand how the skills female athletes cultivate on the volleyball court or other athletic arena can be the foundation of skills they will need to be productive and successful business-women, mothers and leaders of the future!
Teamwork – The ability to work with other women. I have heard people in workplaces say time and time again that women do not work well together. I find this statement utterly ridiculous!! Women, just like men, are smart, creative and have the ability to work well with co-workers, regardless of their gender. I do think though that an athlete understands the importance of a close connection with those in which she must rely upon to accomplish her goals. Teamwork makes the dream work, baby! And who better to understand the importance of that statement than a female athlete that has been battle tested and put through what seemed like unimaginable feats with her teammates.
The ability to sacrifice for the good of others. An athlete understands sacrifice – plain and simple. She understands how to put her body on the line for her teammates that she loves. She understands that achieving a goal may require her to sacrifice free time, social groups, physical appearance and a perfect manicure! Being a woman in today’s society is no different – we sacrifice to grow our careers, we sacrifice for our families and we give of ourselves for our communities. Currently, I am so far beyond the need for a haircut that I can consider a new longer hairstyle; all because I have not had a free moment lately to hit the salon. The demands upon my free time for my family, home, law practice, basketball team, and now this blog are tremendous! It seems like a norm though, as an athlete I was always giving up something for basketball or my teammates. I learned that if I loved the game and my teammates it really wasn’t a sacrifice at all, but rather a labor of love and I never thought twice about it!
We discovered just before we were set to leave for Christina’s last volleyball tournament that she was having pain in her knee that had become more than annoying! We took her to an orthopedist who explained that her hamstrings were tight causing the pain on the inside of her knee. Otherwise, she was cleared to play – as she could – which to any athlete means…”Yay! I’m cleared to play!” And she did. We could see her fighting through pain during games and applying ice and ibuprofen to aid in reducing inflammation in her knee between. She was a trooper! And while I never advocate for a parent to push a child to play if he or she is in pain; I understood the life lesson that this situation provided our 17 year old daughter. Sometimes, life is tough and it hurts (either physically or emotionally) but we must push through for those that we love and in order to achieve our goals. Had Christina chosen not to play last weekend (and the choice was hers), her team would have been VERY short-handed and may have had to drop out of the tournament. Her decision to play through the pain and sacrifice her body showed maturity and love for her teammates.
The importance of positive communication. I give a speech at the beginning of basketball season each year about positive communication. I remind my players that one phrase, communicated with different inflection and body language could have polar opposite effects on the person hearing the statement. My example: “Come on ladies, you’ve got this!” versus “Come ooon ladies!” (insert eye roll and foot stomp). One of those statements is encouraging to your teammates and co-workers while the other is condescending and dismissive. Its a very similar statement that could change the entire momentum of the game or your relationship with your teammates.
As mothers, communication with our families is really no different. A question to Husband…”Have you done the dishes today?” is nothing more than a question unless I am adding body language and emphasis on words that indicate my annoyance with him (Why haven’t you done the dishes today?) Positive communication is so vital to any relationship – marital, familial, career-related or friendships and it is an often over-looked trait that needs to be properly developed…the power of positive communication! Being part of a team requires CONSTANT communication with ones teammates and on successful teams that communication is always positive. That is not to say that situations do not arise that require a leader to step up and energize their team by challenging them to preform better or work harder, but an effective leader has the ability to energize her team without tearing them down!
The understanding that improvement and achievement of goals requires time and dedication. Most athletes understand that putting in minimal time and effort is not enough to truly achieve goals. Successful teams contain athletes than have a desire to put in the TIME and WORK required to grow, improve and exceed their goals! In the same respect, growth and success do not happen over-night. A female athlete understand that both require her to be dedicated to her craft and to spend her free time in the gym or weight-room rather than at the mall or texting with friends
As adults, we come to understand that any goal we want to achieve will require us to give of our time and be dedicated to our cause. Whether our focus is on advancing our career, raising healthy, happy and loving kids, fighting for a cause that we support or a little bit of all three we have to understand that advancement in ANY of these avenues WILL require that we give of our time and energy to see it through! Why do you think us ladies NEVER have free time!!
Go with the flow and accept the challenge set before you. When I made a plan to attend law school after I completed my undergraduate education I NEVER in my wildest dreams planned to do so with a brand new baby girl along for the ride! BUT, that is exactly what happened. I began my first year of law school 8 months pregnant and scared to death of motherhood – who had time to stress about starting law school! I had to dig deep within myself and recall times in which I had to play a position I was unfamiliar with or guard a player bigger and stronger than me. I find every situation to be better if you can turn it into a basketball analogy! So, I loaded up my new born baby and hit the books! Now that she is 13 and I have been in the practice of law for many years, I hardly remember those hard times. In fact, I laugh at the fact that while my classmates were freaking out over Contracts class our first year, I was just going with the flow and wondering if I had bought diapers or was out of baby formula!
I am sure I could go on and on about the positive attributes athletics can provide to young women (and men) but I will wrap it up for today! I loved every moment of being a female athlete and I am so happy that my daughters have had the ability to be a part of teams and garner these same positive experiences that will help to shape them into the young women that seem to be appearing before my very eyes!