Courtesy: Donna Hale
This time of year, social media is filled with postings from parents trying to help their student athletes make the right college choice. Here is the most important advice we should give them:
Find yourself a team that supports you!
Nothing will ever matter more to your student athlete. Not times. Not records. Not even making the NCAAs.
Every student athletes deserves:
1. Coaches who believe in them and are encouraging and invested in their growth not only as athletes but also as people. Athletics is a part of but not the whole journey.
2. Teammates who support them during every phase of their journey: the grueling practices, the races that fall short and those that take your breath away.
3 A team culture that creates bonding, trust and lifelong memories. The best collegiate teams challenge, celebrate and change the lives of their members. Literally. The sense of community is profound. The smiles are endless and the hugs and encouragement are everywhere you look.
4. Memories — sweet and cherished memories. Training trips. Team Brunches. Holiday parties The day comes all too soon when you will be an alumni. Spend your years in a place and culture where you would want your own children.
5. Family. In the swim world parents and athletes spend so much time in the stands, in the pool, and cheering our lungs out. Forever friendships develop. My own daughter still counts among her closest friends, swimmers she swam with growing up. And she finally has a new tribe that melts my heart because they are not only great swimmers. Most of all they are awesome people. And they have incredible parents.
While this may seem obvious, remember not all teams are like this. There are toxic coaches and teammates and cultures that do not bring people together. Choose carefully.
This is so important, I will repeat it one more time. As you choose your future college swimming team:
Find yourself a team that supports you.
To quote my own daughter: “Everything good comes after that.” She is right.
Donna Hale is a 17 year swim mom whose daughter Hannah swims for the University of Lynchburg Hornets.