Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
The sad truth is when your child is nine years old, it may feel like your days as a swim parent are endless. Before you know it, your child will begin the college recruiting process. You turn around and there’s a whole new group of swim parents on deck and swimmers in the pool.
If we view our years with a team as limited and finite, our outlook and attitude may change for the better. Treasure these years and try to make a difference.
Or, as the founder of the world Scouting movement said:
“Leave this world a little better than you found it.”
What can we do to leave our team better than we found it? Here are five tips on how to make a difference on your team:
Be supportive of the coach.
If you question what a coach is doing, don’t talk about it with other swim parents, but ask the coach. A negative attitude spreads so quickly throughout a team. Remember that the coach will be on deck long after we leave. Before speaking or taking action, stop and think—are we hurting or helping the team?
Be positive and thankful.
It’s easy to get frustrated if your child has a bad swim, or isn’t improving as fast as Johnny is. Try to see the big picture and enjoy what a great activity swimming is for your child. We’d much rather have our kids in the pool than playing video games.
Reach out to new parents.
If you see a new face at a swim meet or on deck, smile and say hello. Some teams get cliquey, not on purpose, but because certain parents have been hanging out together for years. They don’t realize that newer parents may feel intimidated or left out.
Think about where your skills—whether in accounting or writing—could be used to improve or add to the team. Everyone can help with meets and fundraising. With every organization, there is a core group of people who do most of the work. Ask them where you can help.
It’s never too late to be a better sports parent and role model for other parents. We’ve all made mistakes in parenting like putting too much pressure on our kids, or doing too much for them. The good news is that we can learn from our mistakes. Fortunately, there are many resources about good sports parenting on USA Swimming, SwimSwam and throughout many magazines and blogs.
What can you do to make a difference on your team?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.