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The Athlete or Outdoor Girl

If your girl has some or a lot of athletic ability, you are again fortunate because there so many opportunities for her to practice what she likes. Whether it is tae kwon do, soccer, or lacrosse, you should be glad your girl can find something she is passionate about.

What heightens your joy is that most athletic programs at school offer such a variety of choices that your girl can always discover something that piques her interest. Since the sport training is school-sponsored, you do not have to worry about her coaches not being qualified. Besides, you, the parent, will most likely be "volunteered" by your daughter as a chaperone for whatever meets or events are scheduled away from school. Or maybe you will be asked to provide the transportation.

Essential

If you home-school your girl, ask the public schools if she can participate in an organized sport with children her age. The camaraderie with the other kids plus the social skills she can pick up by being with her peers an hour or two in the afternoons can make her home-schooling experience much fuller.

The best way to motivate your athletic girl is by taking her to places where kids participate in sports. Besides the usual sports venues in the schools, most communities have YMCAs that offer a large menu of activities that fall under leisure (for fun) or enrichment (more advanced skills) categories. Girls are divided into groups based on age, grade level, and interests and abilities. For very little money, they can find out if they have any interest at all in basketball, volleyball, softball, field hockey, and other team sports.

Individual sports such as diving may also be offered, in addition to swimming. Your daughter can have a whole array of athletic pursuits to explore before she decides on cross-country running or downhill skiing, since she likes being outdoors.

As long as she enjoys her choice of sports and is not overcommitted, you can relax; not that there will be much free time for you to do so. Parents of budding female athletes frequently have to make sacrifices. When the tryouts for the various teams are over and your girl has been chosen, her schedule may change, as may yours.

Sports Take Commitment

Before your daughter decides to pursue an indoor or outdoor sport wholeheartedly, explain to her the time commitment it may take to become her best. Not only does it require hours and hours of training, but every athletic endeavor has the potential of injury. Some of these injuries can have lifelong consequences. Also there is no guarantee that even the longest, hardest, and most painful training program will result in her winning major recognition in that sport. Tell her that she should pursue athletics because sports will help:

  • Energize her, increase her fitness, and make her healthier.
  • Release stress and fuel her passion.
  • Make use of her special talents that should not be wasted.
Fact

Michelle Wie, born in 1989 in Honolulu, is a well-known American golf phenomenon and one of the world's best young players. She started playing at age four, routinely practices four hours a day, and seven on the weekend. So far, she has had a record-breaking career, surpassing all expectations.

Your girl should not only go after athletics because she wants an Olympic gold medal. If she has decided to play on a school or community team, her daily routine will definitely change. She will have longer hours than her classmates, and her athletic obligations will become the centerpiece of your family life. You will feel the pride well up in you even as you realize that your free time has shrunk to almost zero.

No matter how "free" being on the school's track team, for instance, is supposed to be for your daughter, there are always hidden costs, such as team pictures, special camps, and extra food for your girl and her teammates who drop in to celebrate a victory at your house. You welcome them, glad your daughter has found an arena in which to showcase her extra abilities, but you will see your cash reserves take a hit.

Many parents go beyond spending money that is not allocated in the budget. They move to a school district where a top-notch coach works. They free up weekends for practice at a special sports facility and take their vacations around national sports events their girl wants to see. They give their best effort to encouraging their daughter in whatever athletic interest she develops. As a result, their daughter flourishes.

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From The Everything Parent's Guide to Raising Girls Copyright © 2007, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.


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