Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tiny Update to the Packing List Post Below

We just returned from the first soccer tournament of the fall and I did so well. I only forgot ONE thing (important thing, but just ONE). On the 2nd day, I forgot my daughters knee brace. She played fine without it and thankfully didn't reinjure the knee; fortunately it was not truly required, she was just wearing it for extra support following a minor sprain on Tuesday. Yeay me!!

I can't even remember if I put that on my list in the previous post.... if not, add: every piece of protective, support, physical therapy wraps, braces, splints, etc. that you could possibly need.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Things to Pack for a Weekend Sports trip with your Youth Athlete

Subtitle: You didn’t have to pack this much crap when they were infants….

1) SUV or Minvan—required to carry one kid plus items #2-30

2) Sports specific equipment and uniform pieces in every color…Ex. If you are going to a girls soccer tournament, in the uniform category alone, you will need to bring: all 3 colors of jerseys, all 3 colors of shorts, all 3 colors of socks), cleats, shinguards, sports bra, hairbands (of all 3 colors), headbands (of all three colors), soccer bag, and ball. If you are the parent of the keeper, add goalie jerseys (2), goalie pants or shorts, gloves (2 pair).
And soccer has way less equipment than most…imagine your vehicle if your kid is on a hockey or football team, or is a pole vaulter, or a horseback rider (yes, you have to bring your own horse for most shows).

3) Cooler—filled with Gatorade, water, grapes, other fruit that is easy to keep and fun to throw

4) Igloo waterbottle-1 quart size at least

5) The kids (and your) other clothes like pajamas, underwear, jackets, flip flops, etc

6) Chairs for watching the game

7) Your kids regular medicine…who can forget that tournament that someone forgot their child’s Ritalin? Seriously, see #22

8) Sunscreen

9) Advil, Tylenol

10) Band-aids, Neosporin

11) Home skin stitches kit

12) Hats and sunglasses for parents watching the game in the 105 heat

13) Car Paint, in case you win the tournament so you can drive home in an embarrassing show of glory

14) Sports Magnets

15) Camera, Video Camera, film, batteries and battery chargers

16) MapQuests (or Google Maps)—before the trip it is extremely PRUDENT to get the address of your hotel, your field, court, rink, sportsplex, wherever the games will be location, and the restaurant you are having your team dinners at. Then create and print out maps from home to hotel, hotel to fields, etc. It’s even more PRUDENT to actually bring these on the trip (I have a mental block on that step for some reason). Or…if you have have a GPS navigator system in your car, all you need are the addresses, no need for printing out.

17) List of Cellphone numbers (in addition to them being plugged into your cellphone) for the other parents, coaches, and teammates for when you or they are lost or your team caravan from field to restaurant gets split up

18) Earplugs

19) Hotel with bar

20) Valium or any other member of the Diazepam family

21) Back-up hotel in case you get kicked out of the original one (high likelihood)

22) Bathing suits and goggles for siblings of the athletes- One of the very few BENEFITS for the poor siblings who must be dragged to these events is that they get to swim in the hotel pool and the athletes don’t. It certainly doesn’t make it worth it to them, but at least they have the POOL.

23) Deck of cards, magazines, games (remember the games or events are often just a small portion of the day, you must find a way to fill the rest of the day with “quiet, resting” type activities…Not Allowed are: swimming, working out in the hotel weight room, one coach even banned going to the mall as it was too much walking, and running up and down the halls or stairs of the hotels, etc.

24) Extra set of car keys (don’t ask)

25) IPod/Blackberry/Laptop and all associated battery chargers and A/C adaptor cords

26) DVDs if you are lucky enough to have a vehicle with a DVD player

27) Gameboy or Nintendo DS

28) Your Subway Club Card, cause that’s the only friggin’ restaurant you’re allowed to eat at between games or events.

29) Lots and lots of money and credit cards.

30) The kid
31)*ziplock bags
33)*garbage bags
34)*toiletry case and everything in it
35)*books/mags for mom to read, People/US other are great to buy and read and share w/other moms....when else do you have 48 hours to do nothing but catch up on Lindsay Lohan, Brittany and whoever happens to be hot at the moment.
36)*kids backpack and homework and novel so s/he can get homework and required reading done in the car or hotel
37)* every piece of protective/corrective equipment you could possibly need (ex. knee braces, ankle braces, splints, prewrap, shoe inserts, Ace Bandages, etc)

I have at one time or another forgotten nearly every item on this list, some of them numerous times. Actually, as I re-read over the list the only one I haven’t ever forgotten is #1, which would be impossible. So, clearly I’m an experienced idiot. I even forgot #30 once, not actually my kid, but a kid I’d promised to take to a softball tournament….nice, huh!? I guarantee there are at least 3 critical items missing from this list….as I remember and add I’ll put them in red and with asterisks next to them.

The good news is there is a Wal-Mart in every town and the coach forgot to specifically say “No going to Wal-Mart”, so that is often how we fill our time between games. Good Luck!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ranting (and Raving) about Snacks for our Tiny Athletes

So.......... you sign up for the first season of Fall T-Ball, Soccer, Basketball, or Volleyball so excited about the upcoming season. The first practice is the Big Day. Your kid is beyond excitement, he can’t wait to see what the uniform will look like, who his coach will be and which of his friends ended up on his team. You are excited too, for the same reasons as your child, but also because your kid will be learning new sports skills, getting fit, making new friends, and learning teamwork.
After the practice, you’ve been told there will be a parent meeting. What is always the first order of business?? Yup….the Snack List! That sacred sheet of paper is passed around, and you must sign up to bring a snack and a drink for the team for one game. Yes, as with nearly every move they make in the first 10 years of life, kids are rewarded after each game with food, usually sugary, trans fat-laden bars or cookies of some sort. Also, they get a box or bag of juice which is usually not juice, just water and sugar.
It’s really not a big deal, I suppose, a nice snack as a reward for doing well on the field, and cementing the notion that sports and activity are a positive, happy experienced. But GOOD LORD……..starting at about age 2, kids get rewarded and fed crap for everything they do: every activity seems to end with a snack or a gift or at the very least a stamp on your hand. Anyone with common sense knows this is not good. We all know what’s inherently wrong with this…

1. Way too much sugar/fat
2. Being rewarded for doing something that’s supposed to be fun, and a reward in of itself. This could cause them to have a huge sense of entitlement. As teenagers and adults, maybe they’ll end up a big lump on the couch doing nothing that requires any effort, unless promised an outrageous reward.
3. All those snacks throughout the day will ruin his appetite for the healthy dinner you have planned.
4. If you have a couple of games in one day, then siblings games, then a birthday party….your kid has just racked up an extra Halloweens worth of crap
5. We (the parents) are the ones paying for this, and trying to remember when our snack day is. Please don’t even remind me about the time I forgot it was my turn during basketball season a few years back…I still have nightmares about the other parents shunning me.
6. Constant food rewards might cause disorders surrounding food in the future.
7. Competition between families regarding quality of snacks provided (yes, I have been known to bring a lasagna and Italian ices to a soccer game)

But wait………………the reason this evil snack distribution (ESD) keeps on going and couldn’t be stopped by common sense any more than a mouse could stop a speeding Amtrak is because it works. Ultimately, we all want our kids to be happy and healthy, right? Looking at the big picture, ending a game (or beginners ballet session, whatever) with a common, understandable, positive snack with friends, leaves the kids in happy state of mind. They are able to wipe away some of the memory of being on the basketball court and getting beat 31-3, or passing to the wrong team, or even doing well, but not really knowing exactly what you’re doing. Beginning sports are fun, but also a little confusing and daunting to the newbies, especially those who were reluctant participants in the first place. Having your last memory of the soccer game being a Little Debbie cake and a juice box with all your new best friends is a much happier feeling than of being dismissed by the coach with a wave and a “better luck next time” or “we’ll work on your hitting at practice next week”. That feeling can be the difference in him wanting to quit and come back next week for more fun. We want our kids to love sports, get better, make friends, and want to sign up year after year, right? After they build confidence they’ll find the sport they truly excel at and love, focus intently on it and be the star pitcher in next years Little League World Series, or become the next Michael Phelps in the 2016 Olympics.

Sometimes a bit of sugar actually does the trick for that first step. There really are the subset of kids that, whether they know it or not, come back week after week just for the snacks, and throughout the season they eventually get comfortable with the sport. Poof, you’ve got the next Freddy Adu or Mia Hamm on your hands, all thanks to Capri Sun or Juicy Juice.

So… suck it up, don’t try to change the ESD by doing an email campaign to eliminate the Snack List this season (as if you’re the first person to try that! Ha), or by bringing healthy snacks when it’s your turn (yup..tried that too, I learned that it’s better to forget it’s your day than bring cider and homemade bran muffins; we had to switch towns after that) Trust me, as they get older and into higher levels of a sport, snacks brought by mommies for the whole team become extremely UNCOOL anyway. I feel it’s better that they are out their playing, exercising, and learning new things than sitting home with a bowl of broccoli.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

August: My Favorite Month of ESPN: Sizzlin’ Hot Little League World Series 2008

I’ve always loved watching the Little League World Series, this year it starts on the 15th of August through the 24th , right in the middle of the Olympics. For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched at least a few of the games on TV. As my kids have grown and gone through their various athletic pursuits (none of which were making it anywhere near the LLWS), my appreciation of the LLWS has just increased. While the games are always special, I really get a kick out of how the commentators try as hard as they can to stay positive no matter how bad a particular error is (for example “Oh my Mike, that was a really close one, he nearly caught that fly ball, I believe the sun got him at the last moment”). How I wish that was true in real life during games w/out the camera’s; some of the personal comments I hear parents make about some of the kids during games are pretty rough. Anyway….It’s like ESPN has deemed that any athlete under age 13 or 14 is sacred and, therefore, there should not be a bit of negativity shown, I like it, I really do. They know the kids and their families are TIVO’ing and taping each game and will watch themselves over and over. When a kid makes a great play they show it numerous times from numerous angles, gushing the whole time.

I also have a soft spot for all the little personal vignettes, etc. I love the “stats” on the boys: Height, Weight (Seriously...there can be 12 year old boys on the team that weigh 60 lbs. and others boys that weigh 140 lbs.), Favorite Movie, Favorite Pro Athlete, Favorite Food, Favorite movie star, etc. Also, a good bit of camera time is spent on the families of the boys. They always have nice interviews with some of the parents and siblings of the players detailing their journeys. Lots and lots of shots of the families cheering (and a bit of parental coaching from the stands, too, but nothing compared to what we all witness every weekend in our recreation leagues). They do show a bit of the losing teams crying but not much….and it’s not like we haven’t seen adults crying in the NCAA basketball or soccer finals, etc, so we know grown-up men also feel and can show the pain of losing the big one. It’s just a nice snapshot into the best of the world of youth sports.

So, the Little League World Series is starting in about a week, as you’ve probably noticed I’ve got the TV schedule linked at least 3 times for you. I know I’ll be watching quite a bit, hope you can too. It’ll be tough this year, competing with the Olympics, but thank God for TIVO and DVR.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Public Service Announcement

From our neighbors to the North. This canadian public service announcement doesn't just apply to Hockey Dads, though they were the target audience. Any sports parent should sneak a peek at this video. Picture it: Your kid just told you he wants to quit hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball, gymnastics, ballet or whichever sport he LOVED until this very second. You are in shock! OMG...he's so good, a prodigy even, he's been playing since he was four and you've supported him every single, inch of the way. When kids burn-out or decide to quit the sport they excel at and we parent have no idea as to why.......Click on this LINK for a clue. Obviously this is not the only reason kids want to quit or learn to dislike their sport, there are a ton of reasons and that will be the subject of a future post, I'm sure.

Speaking of clueless, I'm sorry I haven't figured out how to just stick in a Youtube video, yet...I've just barely gotten the hang of links. Enjoy the video, I bet we all know one parent who is pushing a bit too much.