Sports are very important for youth development, as it teaches perseverance, teamwork, and critical thinking.
If children have a parent accompany them during their athletic career, these characteristics can be amplified. Parents have decades of life experience and can be applied to sports regardless of the amount of knowledge they have about that particular sport. In order for parents to connect with their child and solidify these life lessons, they must be involved with their child’s sport participation.
Parents make a lot of sacrifices for their children and their sports. It can be exhausting for parents to be highly involved with their children, but it can also be very rewarding. I know this through personal experience, watching my father make many sacrifices for my tennis career.
Growing up, my dad has always watched me play tennis. He would be the one who took me to tournaments and to my practices. When I was not with a coach, he would be the one training me. He never played tennis in his life, but he taught himself the game of tennis so he could teach me.
My dad saw how much I liked tennis at a young age, so we kept practicing to increase my potential in high school and college athletics. When he came home from work, he would feed me balls to improve my groundstrokes. On weekends, he would drive me to my tournaments so that I could play and see what part of my game needed improvement. He was always the one to motivate and push me through challenges, until I was able to motivate myself.
My dad was heavily involved in my tennis career, and made a lot of personal sacrifices to make sure he was always present. He was highly involved in my tennis because he wanted to help support my game and my mental abilities, be my role model, and foster memories together.
My father understood how life works, and wanted to make sure I inherited these life lessons. I began to have a drive to be better, not just for him, but for myself and my future. So I began to dream about playing tennis in higher education.
He was even tougher when I told him that I wanted to play college tennis. Training was hard when I was with him, but he made me reach my highest levels of potential on the court. It took me many years to understand what he wanted me to accomplish. Because of his guidance, I created a goal for myself to play college tennis, and his one-on-one guidance helped me gain the motivation I needed to push myself to greater heights.
Only now am I realizing just how important my dad’s involvement was to me, and it helped me see how great he is as a father. My dad not only sacrificed his time for my practices, but also for my high school matches, even leaving work early from the city just to watch me play. He would always walk up to the courts, my favorite protein bar and Fruit Punch Gatorade in hand. When I started college, my dad would drive to my college campus every time I had a match. It did not matter to him if the matches were on a weekday or weekend, or if there were two hours of heavy traffic.
What my dad taught me is that when I become a parent, I need to make sacrifices for my kids and their activities. I need to be there whenever they perform, even if it means leaving work early or relinquishing my plans. Just how my career was short, my kids’ careers will be short too. And I need to make the most of it during their times.
I could not understand until my last collegiate match of why my father was always there for me. That match was the last time he would ever see me play competitively. Those years of competitive tennis he watched, he knew at some point it would end and he wanted to be there to remember his daughter’s moments. When I understood, it meant the world to me how much he watched me play. He watched me grow up on the court, to become an amazing person because of the sacrifices he made to simply be there and participate. I truly wish my career never ended because I do miss sharing these moments with my dad. I wish I could relive them all again with him.
Parents, your kids’ tennis time is precious, especially if they do not go professional or play collegiate tennis. Spending time with your kids is always crucial, but in a setting where you participate in your kid’s growth in a sport and activity, you shape them into a better person. To my dad, it was worth everything to watch me play and see me grow and succeed, and watch me morph into a passionate and confident fighter. He was there for many of my matches even if my matches would make his hair grayer and receive stress from long, tough points. Your kids’ tennis or activities will not last forever and will eventually come to an end. I loved it when my dad was there watching me play and supporting my team. He would even cheer for my teammates when he thinks they needed support.
So Dad, when you read this, I want to take the time to thank you for all you have done for me and for my tennis. Thank you for making every sacrifice you made to help me and watch me play.