Monday, August 27, 2012

Youth Sports: Dad, I don't want to play in college.

I started Stats Dad to chronicle my kids youth sports adventures, the ups and the downs, the wins and the loses, the tears and the fears, the hard work and fun, the cheers and the jeers, and the joys and the frustrations. My family has experienced the full spectrum many times over.

Well, my family is not unique. There are many families doing what we do, feeling what we feel, etc. So it is time to open up the platform for others to share their stories.

I have invited Mike Ewing, a dad, an ex-collage baseball player, a baseball coach and the creator to share his sports dad story on StatsDad. 

I am glad that I did, because Mike's daughter, Ansley, taught me something that I needed to know as my pre-teen girl athlete advances is sports. Enjoy.

Youth Sports Parent Spotlight Series - Mike Ewing
Ever since I was young, sports have been a large part of my life. My athletic career got off the ground when I was 8 in Little League. I was horrible that first year, but we won first place and I was hooked. I ended up improving enough at baseball to earn a college scholarship and I even played for a few years after college. I was forced to hang up the spikes due to injury but at that time, my children, Ansley and Conner, were starting their careers. This filled the void. 
Ansley, is my oldest, started out in gymnastics at 3. Soccer came along at 4 and softball at age 5. She gave up on gymnastics and softball after 2 years. She started playing basketball at 9 and that lasted a couple of years. She eventually discovered volleyball at age 12.

Conner started soccer and baseball at 4. He excelled at both and couldn’t get enough. He played baseball and soccer in the spring, summer, and fall, and basketball in the winter. Football eventually entered the mix when he got older. Football became an on-again off-again love affair, but baseball always consumed him. He played year round on as many as four teams in a season. 
By the time Ansley reached high school, she had become a very good volleyball player. She played club volleyball in the spring and high school volleyball in the fall. She traveled all over the southeast and midwest. She excelled and started getting noticed by some college coaches. We were excited since she was playing a tall girls sport at only 5’ 1”. Ansley got her first offers during her junior year from smaller DII and DIII schools. Of course she dreamed of a big DI school, but at 5’1” even as a libero, the chances were remote. 
The possibility of being a dad of a college athlete made me think about my parents when I played college baseball. I remember how proud they seemed to be. I couldn’t wait to feel that same sense of pride with my kids. 
I would have to put off that feeling for a while because I was hit with this BOMB. At the beginning of her senior year of high school, Ansley decided she did not want to play in college. At first I couldn’t understand how anyone would not want to be a college athlete. I would not have been able to attend college at all if I had not had a baseball scholarship. She had decided that she just wanted to be a student. She had missed out on a lot in high school. She had missed the prom her freshman, sophomore, and junior years because of volleyball tournaments. She had tournaments the day of the homecoming dances as well. She was able to attend those, but didn’t have time for dinner, pictures, etc. 
Luckily, we can afford to send her to school. I grew to support her choice. College is more than just going to class and studying. There is a lot to learn and do outside of the classroom. I hope she gets to do some things I didn’t have time to do in college. 
Life is a bit less complicated for us now. Conner is just now starting his sophomore year of high school. The hard part is going to be figuring out what to do with all of our free time. After years of driving in separate directions, my wife and I might actually have a free weekend or two with no ballgames or practices and we will have to learn how to watch games together. In three more years we may really be bored. 
Over all of the seasons, my wife and I put thousands of miles on our vehicles and spent who knows how much money. We wouldn’t trade it for the world. We have great kids and great students (the number one priority for our kids), who excel at athletics. We couldn’t have been prouder of our kids.

The Main Point 

Mike opened my eyes. He reminded me that short girls can excel at tall girl sports. My girl, CC, is 40th percentile for height and 12th percentile in weight for her age, but she plays at the 99th percentile of heart and hustle. I assume his daughter, Ansley, was the same way.

More importantly, Ansley also taught me that there is so much more to life for young athletic girls than sports. My daughter misses sleepovers and parties to go to soccer and basketball tournaments all the time. As youth sport parents, we might think that these things are trivial compared to the next big game. Maybe, just maybe they are not so trivial. Sports burn out is a reality.

When the choice come up for my girl to either play in a college showcase tournament or go to prom, I will help her make the right choice for her. I'll encourage her to go to the prom. Well, she can go as long as she is home at a reasonable time and her dress is not too short. :)


  1. In reading this post it reminded me of my dilemma during my impending freshman year at BYU. I was a varsity of the girl's softball team in highschool but I was losing interest came my senior year. But BYU had a scholarship lined up for me so I went on to attend BYU and play softball for four years. It helped a bit for my college life.

    1. Some kids seem to think that they are missing something when they play sports - a party or sleepover or time with a boyfriend or girlfriend. When they get older - it will be the experience of playing on the team that they will remember fondly. The party and old relationships will be distant memories. And if they drop sports it will be the thing that they regret later.

  2. I have been in the world of club swimming for 7 years, which is just over half my daughter's life. She is 13 and will be 14 in 4 months. She is in 8th grade.

    I know for all sports as time progresses for kids the sport weeds the kids out. For tons of reasons as you know. I am sure this is the case for many HS girls in sports, but I see it tons in swimming. Girls hit HS and they back off the sport or totally quit. And even some who continue to play don't want to swim in college. Now I will be the first to say I only want to see kids who want to play a sport playing. I don't want to see kids who don't want to be there. Actually those kids can infect the other kids.

    One girl I know was asked to join the elite team on the swim club. That means 90% practices. It is a huge time commitment. Which means your standard answer to your friends is going to be "I can't I have practice." Practice 6 days a week. Swim 6 days for 2 hours. Weights 3 days for an hour. Then meets on the weekends usually twice a month. So this girl said no to elite. Her reason was the time. She wanted to hang with friends. Her social circle was not swimmers. It is a shame because she could swim in college. Her folks have money so she didn't need the scholarship.

    Girls get a social life around 13 or at least think they do. They think the grass is greener outside the sport. I would be many later regret quitting, but they have to make that decision.

    My main focus is to have my daughter hang with swimmers. We as families try to get them together out of the pool. It works mostly.

    But to get to the next level means hard work and not everyone is up to the task.

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