Monday, July 23, 2018

A Year of Being a Beginner

In the past year Cheyenne has tried five different sports: soccer, basketball, softball, gymnastics, and dance. Why did we do this? I guess for a couple of reasons: exposure, lifelong exercise, and curiosity.

As a kid, I had very little exposure to sports. I don't regret the way I grew up, but I often wonder: What if? What if I had been exposed to a lot of different things when I was a kid, would my life be different? What if I had a chance to start when I was younger, would I have had a richer sports experience?

I feel strongly about my kids playing sports. I'm hoping getting my kids to play sports will encourage them to be lifetime exercisers and stave off some of the health problems that run in both Ben and my families. Of course you don't have to be on a sports team to learn to love exercise, but knowing my personal background, I know there are other more capable hands they can hopefully learn this lesson from. 

Lastly, I did this experiment out of curiosity. Is my daughter a natural-born dancer and I just didn't know it? When she hits that softball for the first time, will I find out she's a star? Ben and I listened to this incredibly interesting book The Talent Code this summer (please please read/listen to it. I listened to it for free on the hoopla app through my library. So much good info on what talent really is, passion, coaching, etc.) that debunked some of this for me. A beginner looks like a beginner. I really found that out this year as Cheyenne tried each different thing.

As an added bonus, I do think she learned some very valuable lessons in this year of being a beginner, a year of firsts. At the beginning of this I saw her cower when she would try something new. She would be bad at it, embarrassed, and retreat. But by the fifth thing she had tried, I saw a shift. She listened intently to instructions and directions. She knew she wouldn't get it right the first time, but that was okay, and she would keep trying. If she retains anything from this year, I hope it's that it's okay to fail, and that that's how you get better.

I'm sure you're curious which one she picked. It's soccer!

With four kids, I hoping each of my kids can pick just one sport they can enjoy for awhile (I'm not sure how this will go, but this is my plan currently). So she'll be my soccer girl it looks like!


1. Why did I do this at age 6-7? I have four kids, and sports add a lot of running around to your life. I don't think it's worth losing family time to drive all over creation taking a 4 or 5-year-old to soccer, just because it might give them an "edge" when they get older. I believe in staying home, and I believe childhood is sacred and should be spent carefree at all costs. But I had to balance that with the society we live in. At 7, Cheyenne was often the earliest 'beginner' in every sport she tried. 

2. Will I be doing this experiment with all my kids? I'm not sure. I guess we will see! It was fun to do it this year, but of course it will only get harder to juggle sports as our kids get older. Not to mention very expensive. Signing your kids up for sports is expensive but so is the gear! Especially when they will not be using it again.

3. Why did you pick the sports you did? These were the ones that were readily available for Cheyenne to try, and it took up the course of a whole year to try all five. Volleyball, for instance, doesn't start here until the 3rd grade. I'm open to my kids trying other things when they get older if they want.

7. All kids in one sport? My oldest sister Sarah has 6 kids and for a time put all of them in competitive swimming. Part of my problem with sports is the run-here-and-there aspect of it that takes up so much time, and takes away from family time and down time. I thought her solution was a good one! I am hoping that my allowing each of my four kids to pick only one thing (they could fathomably even be in different seasons-- fall vs. winter for example) it could keep the running here-and-there on a smaller scale, or at least keep it from lasting all year. The truth is, in the society we live in and the way America does sports, running around inevitable at some point!

If you are curious about some of the sports you have never participated in, here in my take on the ones we tried!

Gear needed: Shin guards, socks, cleats, ball
Cost: average (for her age and this area. Average means it wasn't crazy expensive to sign her up or buy the equipment)
Season: Fall, possibly Spring (we didn't play spring this year)
Atmosphere: I'm glad she picked soccer because it's so conveniently close to our house, less than 5 minutes. We also loved that the games and practices were so low key, as they should be for little kids.

Gear needed: ball, shorts
Cost: Low
Season: Winter
Atmosphere: This one was across town at the Y, 15 minutes away and practiced on Friday nights (ugh!). I played basketball so I was hoping she would pick this one ultimately, but I guess I'll hold out for one of my other kids!

Gear needed: ball, bat, glove, face mask, helmet, special pants, belt, and socks
Cost: High (look at all that gear!)
Season: Winter-spring
Atmosphere: I've never played softball before and the league here was intense! It started in February with twice a week practices, and was supposed to go all the way until the end of June. Of course you can't practice outside for the first couple of months, so we had to drive all over creation to play in indoor practice facilities. I couldn't handle all the driving, so I pulled her out. This could just be our area or the league by where we live. If it's the only sport you play and if you love the sport, I'm sure the negatives would be sacrifices you're willing to make.

Gear needed: leotard, special ballet shoes, special tights, special tap shoes
Cost: High
Season: Year round
Atmosphere: It's no secret that I've been avoiding dance. Dance is beautiful, and there's nothing cuter than a little girl in a tutu. My girls of course love dance, what little girl wouldn't? If I loved dance, I'm sure it would be a different story. But since I didn't grow up dancing, I can't get over how dang expensive dance is. I paid $30 for one pair of tap shoes, and I have two girls. I'm lucky I missed the recitals and special outfits and costs to get into performances since we only did it in the summer. And dance is year round so you have monthly fees as well. I'm afraid I told the girls they couldn't pick dance, at least for now. I'm really grateful we have dancers in the world and the beauty they add to this life, but I really wish we could figure out way for kids to learn to dance without having to take out a second mortgage on your home.

Gear needed: Leotard
Cost: Average. Low cost on gear, but since it's year round, you do have a monthly fee
Season: Year round
Atmosphere: I was surprised by how much I liked gymnastics. The moves they were teaching the girls seemed really natural-- like the natural way kids play and love to move their bodies. The girls would constantly try the moves at home or when they played. I think it could be good for boys too. They call it "the foundation sport" because it can help you become stronger/better at other sports as well. You can do recreational gymnastics so your kids don't even have meets, just a once-a-week practice, so I liked that that made it low key. The downside: it's year round, so you never get a break.

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