words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “athletics”

Lessons for living

Most parents look out for the lessons we can teach our kids.

We take the opportunity to teach them about fractions when they are helping us bake.

While reading a story we ask them to think of words that rhyme with a word on the page.

When going for a bush walk, we encourage them to look around to see how many different animals they can find.

Yet every now and then, our kids teach us lessons — if we just take the time to watch, listen and learn.

Today was my daughter’s school athletics carnival. It also doubled as selection trials for District Athletics.

For those of you who know my daughter well, she’s not a naturally gifted athlete. She’s always happy to be involved and give it a go, but athletics is not her passion. She’s more at home with a song in her heart, or her hands on the keyboard.

However, today she was more than happy to be involved. In fact, she had entered as many events as she could and was really looking forward to competing.

On the way to school, I asked her if she thought she’d make a District team.

“Maybe,” she said. “We practiced high jump yesterday.”

“How did you go?”

“Really good! I didn’t get out until the second time the rope went up.”

“Oh that’s good,” I said, secretly thinking she didn’t have a chance.

So I asked: “Will you be disappointed if you don’t make a team?”

“Nope!” she said. “I just want to go along, represent my house, have fun, do my best and try to be better than I was last year.”

As I dropped her off at school I promised to see her out on the field.

An hour or so later and we were ready to get underway.

Event number one was the 100m sprint. Ready, set, go! They were off. Down the track she runs, big smile on her face and only just scrapes in at second last.

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Over we go on the high jump

Event number two was high jump. While she’s lining up waiting to jump, she gives me a wave and a big smile. Time to jump. Over she goes. Another big smile. Fast forward a few jumps later and she ends up finishing fourth and wins her very first ribbon for a solo event. She was ecstatic!

Event number three rolls around. 200m sprint. She’s in the last heat with some fast runners. And they’re off. She’s leading initially, but only because she’s in the outside lane (LOL). Overtaken by one, overtaken by two. Soon, she’s running last. The other runners are getting faster and she seems like she’s slowing down. But all I can see is the smile on her face. It was so big it made my heart swell. As she crossed the finish line, the other girls cheer and pat her on the back with a “good job, Laura” or a “well done”. She is beaming. However, the best surprise is yet to come. Based on their times, she finishes 8th out of all the girls. I was shocked!

Event number four is the long jump. Once again she’s ready to compete and gives it her best. She comes away with nothing, not even a PB. Yet the smile doesn’t leave her face.

Event number five is the discus. She’s never thrown a discus before. She enters the cage and asks the teacher “What do I do?” I, (perhaps inappropriately), burst out laughing. She looks at me and laughs too. Then she swings the discus around and lets it fly, feeling very proud that she has done something new. On her second attempt, she betters her distance by more than 2 metres, and ends up finishing around 6th or 7th place!

After a break for lunch, it’s back out onto the field for the shot put. She’s never done that before either so I was interested to see how she’d go. She gets out there and her technique is fantastic for someone who has never thrown it before. Her best distance after three throws was 4 metres. Not good enough to win a ribbon, but her delight in improving with every throw is priceless.

The last event, number seven, is the triple jump. I don’t know if you have watched many kids attempt the triple jump but many of them struggle with the technique. Some kids get it and other kids don’t. Laura did and after three rounds finished with a PB of 4.95m and a fourth place ribbon.

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Throwing the discus for the first time

Two individual ribbons in one day! Neither of us expected that.

As I reflect back on the athletics carnival, there are five key lessons that I learned from my daughter:

LESSON No. 1. Always have a plan and know what you want to achieve. Laura’s goal was to “represent my house, have fun, do my best and try to be better than I was last year.” She wasn’t trying to ‘beat’ anyone. She wasn’t aiming to ‘win’. Those things weren’t important to her, so she focused on what did matter. As well as having fun, she achieved 3 PBs and won 2 individual ribbons.

LESSON No. 2. Don’t compare yourself. How many of us compare ourselves to other people and find ourselves wanting? A number of Laura’s friends are great athletes and usually win ribbons in most events. One of her best friends always cleans up at sports days. Today that girl entered 6 events and achieved 4 firsts, 1 second and 1 third. If Laura compared herself with her friends, she would have come home feeling discouraged and ‘not good enough’. Instead, she came home on a high, being proud of what SHE achieved.

LESSON No. 3. Always smile. One of the best things from today was Laura’s smile. She smiled before her events. She smiled during her events. She smiled when she came last. She smiled when she came fourth. She smiled for the whole day. She didn’t think about how slow she was while running. She didn’t worry about whether she was ‘winning’. She was just happy to be there in the moment, giving it her best.

LESSON No.4. Be proud of what you achieve. Laura is still beaming and is so proud of herself for ‘her best results ever’. On the way home from the carnival, she had to ring several family members to tell them how she went. When her dad came home from work, the first thing she did was show him her ribbons and the scrap piece of paper on which she recorded her PBs. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook our achievements, particularly when we focus on what others have achieved. But today Laura showed me just how happy you can be, by being proud of what YOU achieve.

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So proud of what she had achieved today.

LESSON No. 5. Cheer for others. Sometimes it’s difficult to cheer for other people. Sometimes we feel they don’t need it, or deserve it. Sometimes jealousy causes us to stay silent. However, when someone is cheering for you, it can mean so much. When Laura crossed the finish line of her 200m race, in last place and a long way behind the others, the other girls cheered for her. And I could tell in that moment, it meant the world to her, because the smile that was upon her face became even bigger.

Today was a good day. Actually, today was a great day.

While Laura didn’t qualify for the District athletics team, she taught me that with the right attitude, we can always feel like a winner.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Life is like….hurdles!

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Sometimes you fly…

Today I attended our school Athletics Day, which also doubles as our District Athletics selection trials. Grades 3 to 6 children compete in up to five events that they select, and the winner of each event goes on to represent our school in the District Athletics competition held each year.

This was the first year that my daughter was old enough to be involved. My son, had participated in previous years and had been selected to represent the school in high jump and triple jump in the past. Being an ‘old hand’ at it, he knew what he wanted to achieve for the day, the events he knew he was good at, and what he enjoyed doing.

My daughter on the other hand is somewhat more hesitant, and is happy to be involved in anything really. However, she’s not particularly gifted when it comes to athletics. I’m not saying she’s hopeless, because she’s not. She’s just happy to stand around and chat to her friends and ‘have a go’, when it’s her turn. She doesn’t have natural talent, and she doesn’t have a passion to improve her skills. And that’s okay, because her talents lie elsewhere. Her goal for the day was ‘to maybe win a ribbon, and not fall over’.

When she told me she had selected hurdles, I couldn’t believe it. She knew my opinion of that particular track event (and it isn’t very favourable, having had a bad experience at high school. But that’s another story).

“Why hurdles?” I asked.

“Because I like jumping,” she said. Fair enough.

It soon became clear that the grade 3 kids were going to jump the same height hurdle as the grade 6 kids. None of these ‘little’ hurdles that they used to trot out. I felt sick to my stomach.

You see, the track they were doing the hurdles on is very unforgiving. In past years, many a child has come to grief doing hurdles, limping off with patches of skin missing from various parts of their bodies. My daughter fell during the 800m on that track about 18 months prior. Not only did she end up with bandages on most parts of her body, including her chin, but there was a visit to the hospital afterwards to make sure she hadn’t broken a finger.

No wonder her goal was to ‘not fall over’.

So as time ticked by, I watched the groups of kids run their hurdles race.

Some of the kids were like gazelles. Running fast, leaping gracefully over hurdle after hurdle. It really was a beautiful thing to watch. I for one, was amazed at their courage and ability.

Then there were others who were a bit more hesitant. They’d run, get to the hurdle, slow down, psych themselves up and go over it. Sometimes they’d take the hurdle with them and sometimes they wouldn’t. There were even children who stopped and walked over them.

And then there were the poor kids who tripped and fell, and lay bleeding and broken on the track.

But the most inspiring were those who tripped, fell and picked themselves up again, only to keep going. They didn’t care that they were last. They didn’t even care that they were bleeding. They just wanted to get up and keep going.

It occurred to me that life is sort of like a hurdles race. We all have hurdles to get over. Sometimes we fly over them, hardly noticing they are there.

Sometimes we need to psych ourselves up because all we see is this barrier between us and where we need to go. However, the hesitating and psyching ourselves up is sometimes what causes us to fall and in hindsight, we’d be better to just run fast and take a leap of faith.

But other times, like those kids today, we fall. We trip and land with a thud. Sometimes the fall is brutal. We may feel like our whole body is bleeding. And the easy thing would be to just lay there and not go on.

But those who do go on, despite their ‘failings’, despite the fall and despite the embarrassment, are the ones who are the true winners. They are the ones who get the most applause and admiration. They are the ones who show us that it’s okay to fall over. They are the ones who bring tears to our eyes as they continue the race, despite the pain they are in. Despite the fear that they may fall again, and again.

For the record, my daughter’s experience of her hurdle race was a combination of the above. She flew over the first hurdle, and just missed tripping over the girl who fell in front of her. She hesitated a moment while she asked the girl if she was okay, and then continued on. She walked over the second hurdle, jumped over the third, and then tripped and fell on the fourth. I watched her, knowing that she would be hurting, yet wondering what she would do next.

She got up, looked at her knee, brushed her hands together, and kept going! She stepped over the next couple of hurdles, taking one down with her, but she finished with a smile on her face!

I was so proud of her.

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…and sometimes you don’t

When I tucked her in bed tonight, I asked her what was the hardest thing about today.

“The hurdles,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because I fell over and it really hurt.”

“So why did you keep going then?”

“Because I wanted to be brave. I like being brave, and when I’m brave, it helps other people be brave. Anyway, lots of people fell over today and some of them kept going, so I knew I could too.”

“Do you think you’ll do hurdles again, next time?” I asked, fully expecting an emphatic ‘no’.

“Well, maybe,” she said.

WHAT?!

I had to ask why she would volunteer to do them again.

“Because I want to get better at them. Because if I’m better at them, I won’t be so scared of them.”

My daughter is 8. They are some wise words from an 8-year old.

So what will you do, next time you fall over your hurdle? Will you lay there and pull out of the race because you’re hurt and afraid? Or will you brush yourself off and finish the race, no matter how far behind the others you are? No matter how scared you are, to carry on?

The choice is yours.

 

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

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