My son has decided to join the swim team at Waukesha South this year. He's a junior and hasn't played a sport in high school. He played football back in 6th through 8th and a host of various sports before that. When faced with the prospect of being small with little chance for playing time as a Freshman football player, he opted out. I've always thought that my kids should play a sport in high school. I think it's important to be part of a team, if only once.
I felt strongly enough about it that we encouraged Sarah to play volleyball as a freshman. She did. She didn't like it very much, but to her credit, she finished it. She actually would have probably made a better swimmer or track person, as those are individual/team sports instead of just team. You work for a personal best in those sports and no one challenges Sarah worse than Sarah. Alas, she did what we asked, hated it, and maybe came out knowing more about herself, her abilities and her role within a group a little better.
I played a few high school sports back in the day. I should say, I wore the uniform. Being a small guy as a freshman, I played the football, the sport I loved the most. I quickly learned the difference between middle school level football and high school. And I had a great moment of clarity when I was de-cleated while holding a blocking dummy by our running back with anger issues. As I flew through the air on the way to my butt, my collective conscience whispered to me, "Maybe try soccer."
Football taught me to realize my limitations.
I listened to myself and tried soccer the next year as a sophomore. It was a better fit for my size, to be sure. But it was like kissing my sister. It wasn't football (actually to Europeans, it IS football, but I digress) so it could never replace it. I did get a lot more playing time and even scored a couple of goals.
Soccer taught me to recognize a better fit for my physical skills.
I also ran track as a Freshman. My events were the high jump, long jump and triple jump. I loved working on the Fosbury Flop method of high jump. I kind of wish I had pursued it past Freshman year to see how I could have improved. Or perhaps I should have tried a running event, as I liked that later in life. In any case, one thing Coach Miles taught me was that you set a personal best for yourself and try and beat it every time. Never mind what the team did, just do your part. If the team is good enough it will take care of itself.
Track taught me personal goals are sometimes the best goals.
And so as Ben takes this leap into a sport he's never played before, I couldn't be more excited for and supportive of him. If I tried out for swimming at his age, I would have been Cretin High School's first swimming fatality. Seriously, man. Love the water, can't swim a stroke.
But he's going into it with a great attitude. He even said to me the other day, "I am so glad to be part of a team sport again. I only wish I hadn't waited this long to do it." These words made my day.
As a person who loves all sports, I want my kids to love them too.