This is a submission in our monthly contest. October’s theme is Determination. Enter your own here!
If you have a child who is all-things athlete, you understand the depth beneath his/her competitive nature. The kid who lives and breathes sports has an internal drive for success that is off the charts. Watching the Olympics proves this truth.
As with every sport, the risk of injury looms. And you know how devastating a setback can be for your child. But what’s amazing as a parent is observing the perseverance and commitment of a kid determined to heal and get back into the game.
My daughter played seven sports in her first 11 years. When you look at her DNA under a microscope, pretty sure a Nike swoosh shows up. And she played each one with full abandon, expecting perfection of herself even as a pip squeak t-baller. She even had a two-year stint as QB on the football team, not a single bone of fear in her body.
Now she plays collegiate basketball – a level of competition in a different realm. She is a monsterish 5’ 2”; all you need to know about her will to succeed in a game dominated by girls who hover around the tall tree mark. Speed and moxie get the job done.
Unfortunately, even her mettle couldn’t prevent a significant labrum tear in her shoulder during her freshman season. Somehow, she found the grit to play out the year in pain. But what really amazed me, was her mindset and approach to off-season surgery and rehab. A determined purpose to heal and get back on the court left me slack jawed with admiration. And I know so many of you parents have witnessed the same resolve in your courageous kin.
If we take the time to reflect on how our athletic kids respond to injury, we can walk away with a heart full of lessons to buoy us going forward. Setbacks of all kinds await us in the future, and here are five gifts from watching a teen battle through a sports injury to tuck away for safe keeping:
1 | Attitude is everything
Teens get a bad rap for their rapid cycling mood changes. Sometimes their ‘tude gets underneath our skin. But if you look closely, you’ll find they often have us adults beat when it comes to positivity during times of stress. Mind over matter fuels the athlete.
2 | Embracing pain has great dividends
Athletes don’t let pain deter them. Their inner compass points true north: the place where the potential for victory AND defeat always co-exist. Learning to embrace the same paradox in life –accepting the struggles along with the joys – is a life-giving mentality we can all benefit from.
3 | Competitiveness can be a good thing
When the drive to be competitive transcends being a sore loser, the payoff of such determination is confidence. Athletes who lay everything on the line for the love of the game, rather than creating a springboard from which to boast, develop a type of moxie hard to match. And this resolve carries them through injury. If we choose to battle negative thoughts for the love of life, imagine the blessings we’d reap.
4 | You’re never too old to be a kid
If you are an athlete at heart, the joy of playing a game never leaves your spirit. Which means kid vibes run perpetually through your veins. Seems like this playful energy is what fuels the injured athlete and causes them to approach injuries with grace. Imagine if we all could see our setbacks through the eyes of a child.
5 | Life goes on … no matter what
Not every athlete recovers from an injury. But what is amazing to watch is how a kid rebounds from the loss. They continue to battle through the emotions even if the physical fight has reached an end. Kids, because of their limited life experience, take every day as it comes better than adults. And they choose to trust in the unknown going forward. As grown ups, we often struggle when life presses the pause button on our deep seeded efforts; already exhausted from decades of disappointments and let downs. What if we let go of what’s shaped us and start each new day with a fresh slate on which to chalk up our experiences?
So, here’s to the bright side of our child’s athletic injury. Kids teach us countless lessons, but some of the best things we learn correlate to some of the worst things they experience. And the best way to reward our kids for their positivity, grit, and grace is to adopt their philosophies and pay forward the results.
That’s how we make the world a better place one determined effort at a time.