Being the mother of an athlete is a challenging yet rewarding role. So MomsTEAM has declared May as Sports Moms Month and is celebrating by asking some of our favorite sports moms to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions.
So far this month we have heard from a fascinating range of sports moms, from a mom of an Olympic athlete to moms who were themselves Olympic athletes, from a mom of two former minor league baseball players to a Minnesota hockey mom and author.
Today, we hear from Sandy Kimbrell, mother of a USA Baseball player, Anna Kimbrell:
MomsTEAM: Were you an athlete and what sports did you play as a youth (under 19)?
Kimbrell: I grew up the middle child with an older and younger brother; we were all active and athletic as youngsters and always seemed to have a house/yard full of the local neighborhood kids around. There were lots of pick-up tag football, camping, minibike and bicycle riding on a daily basis. During my adolescent and teenage years I played on the middle school basketball team, but chose to go the musical route in high school and opted for band (both marching and concert band). I still enjoy working out, running, motorcycle riding, and an occasional kickball or flag football game.
MomsTEAM: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports mom?
Kimbrell: The most rewarding aspect of being a sports mom is seeing, cultivating and supporting the God-given talent my child has within. It's been a bonus to sit back and watch how all the groundwork and guidance set forth early on (from many people) has allowed Anna to excel to her greatest potential and truly, fully live her dream by the age of 15 (Team USA)...and beyond.
MomsTEAM: What lesson has your sports-active child taught you?
Kimbrell: I was able to witness my father living out his passion of flying almost every day of my life. Financially, he wasn't able to begin taking flying lessons until he was married with 3 small children and a second job. Due to that delay in persuing his dream (no early parental support of flying), he was stopped just short of, and his ultimate dream of being an airline pilot was never reached.
I witnessed Anna's talent level early on (age 5) and wanted to make sure she had the parental support she would need to follow her passions and bring her dreams to fruition - whatever they were. I have learned/seen proof that everyone has a God-given talent, and with proper support and hard work dreams CAN and DO come true.
MomsTEAM: What is the most important lesson your child is learning from his/her sport?
Kimbrell: Years of competitive swimming and baseball games have taught Anna many lessons, and has contributed to her developing the character that is required of an athlete in represent the United States. Being the only girl on the boys baseball team has been both difficult and fun at the same time.
- She's learned over and over again, through bad calls by umpires, intentionally being hit by pitchers, and being used as the #2 man on the bench to push (threaten) the #1 man on the field to excel to HIS/HER potential, that life's not fair.
- She's learned that you can only control what YOU can control, meaning bad calls, chauvenistic attitudes, your attitude AND response, and ultimately life in general.
- Anna has also learned to be a hard worker and to be thankful and appreciative to all of the people who have helper her to reach her goal. A local FOX News channel recently did a story on Women's Baseball/Team USA. Anna was interviewed via Skype for the story. The video has now been posted on facebook pages all over the country by Anna's friends. I noticed friends were leaving complimentary remarks below the post. Anna replied, "Thanks y'all! Just living the dream." :)
MomsTEAM: If you could "flip a switch" and change one thing about the culture of youth sports what would it be?
Kimbrell: If I could change 1 thing about the culture of youth sports I would like to take away/ban all of the coaches who are coaching their own children. I've witnessed the favoritism and pettiness that goes along with this situation - the parents live their dreams through their children and it usually saps fun for all from the game. The child usually ends up the loser, and may walk away from a sport/athletic ability that is unable to come to fruition.
MomsTEAM: Here's a chance to brag a little: what have you done to make sports better for kids?
Kimbrell: It has truly been a joy to be a part of Anna's continuing journey. Sometimes, I wake up and wonder why I was chosen to be a part of HER life. She is SUCH a role model! My dream is to help/support every 'little Anna' following in her footsteps.
USA Baseball's NTIS (National Team Identification Series) has been designed to help jump start the dreams of young girls like Anna. It will help Team USA coaches identify/evaluate up and coming women's baseball talent in the US. This newly adopted program for 14 -16 year old female baseball players will help to continue strengthing the foundation of our Women's National Baseball team, with hopes of returning the GOLD to the USA in 2014.
Update: On August 1, 2012, USA Baseball announced in Salt Lake City that Anna had been selected as a member of the 20-player 2012 Women's National Baseball Team, which will head to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for World Cup competition scheduled to begin on Friday, August 10, 2012. Congratulations to Anna! For complete, up-to-date schedules and stats, click here.
Update: July 20, 2015: Women's Baseball Makes History With Debut at Pan Am Games http://nyti.ms/1Vn4XQ0
Sandy Kimbrell lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.