As I sat and watched the women’s gymnastics Olympic Trials late last night after everyone else in my family had gone to sleep, I was quickly hooked, excited and nervous all at the same time. I knew I had to be able to focus 100% on the television and if I tried to watch with other members of my family, I would have too many distractions. This was serious stuff!
As I have mentioned before, growing up I was a gymnast, and a very dedicated one at that! So, back in the day, there was not a meet on TV that I missed and I also had VHS(!!) tapes full of these meets that I would watch over and over again. I had visions of competing in the Olympics (as do most young aspiring gymnasts) and when we found out the Olympics were going to be in our hometown of Atlanta in 1996, that brought a whole new level of excitement to the city and to us young gymnasts. It was a fun time to be an up-and-coming gymnast in Atlanta for sure!
Fast forward about 6 years after the Atlanta Olympics announcement, and while my dreams of competing in Atlanta were not realized, I did have a tremendous opportunity to work at the gymnastics venue during the Olympics. I was in high school at the time and a bunch of the local gymnasts were a part of a team that did some performing in between the gymnastics meets. But the most exciting part was being able to march around the Olympic gymnasts from event to event carrying their country signs. It was such an amazing experience to witness all the excitement first-hand and be right in the center of it all. I felt very fortunate to have had this opportunity and on top of it all, I was able to see the women’s gymnastics team vault their way to a team gold medal up close!
These fond memories helped me to reflect back and realize what I was able to achieve and learn at such a young age. Gymnastics, and I believe youth sports in general, are vehicles that can be used to teach kids not only the importance of being active, but also so many valuable life lessons. Some of these lessons include:
- Hard work
- Team work
- Time management
- Self responsibility
- Goal Setting
- Dealing with adversity
- Handling success
- Overcoming obstacles
- Good listening skills
These are all qualities that employers are looking for in their potential employees, so why not get them started early? Have your children watch the Olympics with you to get excited and inspired about sports. Then, how about signing them up to try a new sport? What better time to encourage participation in a new sport than after the Olympics!?
I know I am so excited to watch the Olympics this summer with my family … the gymnast in me will be out in full effect I am sure!
Do you have a favorite sport to watch during the Olympics? What kinds of things did you learn from youth sports?