I am in North Carolina visiting my oldest son Jonathan and his family and had the chance to watch the North Carolina AAU District qualifications. My youngest grandson Jackson who is eleven competed in three events and placed second in each event. As a grandfather, I was proud and excited and happy that he did so well and qualified for the regionals in July. However, this blog is not about Jackson. It is about the behaviors that enable children to develop and grow and succeed.
This blog is about the families that support their children, sacrifice their time and resources and the larger family that supports all of theses athletes. It would be easy to talk about all of the things that Jackson and his parents have done to help him be successful and it really is an impressive story, but the bigger story is about the larger family that these athletes have.
I was walking away from the bleachers where I was watching various events and heading back to the tent area where my family was waiting for Jackson’s next event and I noticed the shirt that said it all. It had the name of the track club followed by # we are more than track, we are family. I had a brief conversation with the man wearing the shirt and told him that I really loved his shirt. We talked briefly about what a great event this was and then he saw one of his athletes. He was praising him on how well he did and how proud he was of him. He hadn’t won the event and the conversation was about the progress he was making and all of the things he did well.
As I walked back to our tent, I noticed so many examples of positive messages by parents to their children, but also from one athlete to another. Some conversations were to console, some to motivate, some to mentor and many more that were just about hanging out together. As I watched the various events, I noticed team mates encouraging their fellow team members as they ran and calling out suggestions about form and pace. I noticed that the loudest clapping and encouragement was for those runners that weren’t going to win the race and were struggling to finish the race. Their track family were with them to the end of the race and the fans in the stands joined in to encourage them. You have probably heard the phrase: “It takes a village to raise a child” and this was clearly an example of that.
When I did get back to our tent, Jackson was resting for his next event when the boy who had finished the 800 meters in front of him stopped to congratulate him on the race that he had run. They really didn’t know each other, but it was really a great show of sportsmanship. Later, Jackson and this boy were playing soccer with runners from other teams and other ages. No adults were needed to supervise or coach them. They were already enabled by all of the things that their family and extended families have been doing for a long time.