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This is a guest post by my friend and fellow Sports Mom, Tricia, who was kind enough to share her daughter’s perspective on her first season of middle school cross country with us.

When my husband and I had kids, we had a pretty good idea that they wouldn’t be very “athletic.” We’re kind of a nerdy couple who do not play any sports ourselves and tend to focus on activities like computers and theater. Yet over the last several years I knew that we needed to create some healthier habits in our house, so I took up running. After running two half marathons myself, I convinced my husband to join me for my third. Before too long, my older daughter Jillian (who is 10), decided that it looked interesting to her as well and started running a couple of miles at a time.

At intermediate school orientation I saw a sign for cross country. I asked Jillian if she might be interested and she decided to give it a try. It only lasted about 7 weeks, but it was a great experience for her both from a physical standpoint of getting exercise and the mental standpoint of achievement. I asked her the other day to answer a few questions about her experience and here is what she had to say:

Tricia:  Did you ever think that you would be competing in a sporting event?
Jillian: No, actually, I didn’t. I never thought about it much. I’m usually into stuff like composing music, and choreographing dances. I’ve never played soccer or basketball or anything like some of my friends. The closest that I ever got was taking gymnastics when I was little.

Tricia: What is your favorite thing about being a runner?
Jillian: Finishing. When you’re a runner, the best feeling is the feeling to finish a race and to say in your head, “I did it.”

Tricia: What were you thinking as you were running through the course during your first meet?
Jillian: At the start of the race I was just trying to listen to the rules. Then as I was running I started thinking, “Oh my gosh. How am I going to finish this?” But I just kept telling myself to keep going, and to finish strong.

What would you tell other girls thinking about starting cross country?
I would tell them to try it once. If they like it, continue. If they don’t, stop.

Tricia: What are your future plans for running?
Jillian: I am probably going to continue to race. And to compete in longer distances than a mile. Like the 5k Race for the Cure.

My sincere hope is that I am instilling a lifelong love of running in Jillian because I have found it to be one of the only activities that I have no excuse not to keep up with. I can run on vacation or at my in-laws’ home. I can run by myself or with friends. And now I can run with my daughter.

Tricia Meyer is the owner of Helping Moms Connect and other female-focused blog sites. She is a mom to two daughters, Jillian and Cassie, and hopes to eventually be running half marathons with both of them.

Categories : Running, Youth Sports
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Sports Illustrated Kid of the Year 2011

Voting for this year’s Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year 2011 is now open!! Go to the SportsKid of the Year voting page and cast your vote as many times as you want for your favorite youth athlete. There are four outstanding girls who are in the running this year including:

  • Sage – Kayak
  • Nastasya – Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Lynne – Swimming
  • Lauren – Track 

Lauren Williams SKOTY All four young ladies are very deserving of the title, however, I am a little biased this year!  One of the athletes, Lauren, has been featured on, her Mom happens to be a good friend of mine and is the author of an excellent track and field resource site –

So, go vote for your favorite! You can vote as often as you wish through October 17, 2011.

Categories : Youth Sports
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Confessions of a Youth Sports Dad

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Basketball Player I really wanted another boy, not a girl.

As we awaited the birth of our third child, my wife and I picked out two names. We had one for a boy and one for a girl, but we were both convinced that our new baby was going to be another athletic boy.

After a thorough search of baby names, my wife suggested the name Derrick Phillip. That name sounded great to me after my wife agreed to spell “Derrick” like Derek Jeter, the great Yankee shortstop, spells his name. Two reasons: 1) I’m a huge baseball / Yankee fan and 2) the other spelling reminded me of a bully I knew in junior high. I also liked the name Phillip for a middle name and not because it’s my wife’s dad’s name. I liked it because another Yankee shortstop was named Phil too, Hall of Famer, Phil Rizzuto. Derek Phillip would be the perfect name for my future baseball-playing boy.

Twenty weeks into the pregnancy, the ultrasound confirmed we were not having a boy after all. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. You see in the world where I grew up in New Jersey in the 70’s and 80’s, girls didn’t seem to play sports. My mom was a singer / dancer. She actually sang on American Bandstand. My two sisters showed no interest in sports beyond cheerleading for boy’s teams. And I cannot think of even one girl who I knew / dated when I was growing up who played sports. In short, outside of Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes, I was never exposed to women’s sports.

My wife grew up a world away in Iowa and was a multi-sport athlete. She played basketball, volleyball, boy’s baseball, softball and golf. She also participated in track and field (she held her HS high jump record at one time). She eventually played softball in college. My wife was, heck is, a more accomplished athlete than I ever was.

In the early years of our marriage, my wife and I played softball and / or volleyball in co-ed leagues three nights per week. We won many league championships together. Admittedly, we won because my wife and her athletic girl friends were the difference makers. So after the initial disappointment of hearing we were having a girl, I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe my little girl would be an athlete someday too.

Well as it turned out, my daughter, now 10 years old, loves to dance, sing and act. And she is an absolute card. She is constantly making us, and others laugh. And I could not love her any more than I do.

soccer goalie She also happens to be a terrific athlete. She has excelled in sports since she was five. This year she is the star goalie for a soccer team that just finished 4th in the Ohio State Cup. She also happens to play point guard for a 4th grade AAU basketball team that has a very serious chance to win a National title. They already won the AAU Ohio Super Regional and Ohio District.

Ironically, she is a better athlete than her two brothers and that’s saying something. She has talent, but more importantly, she is self-motivated and has boundless confidence. These traits make her a better athlete than I ever was. There I said it. A 10-year-old girl is a better athlete than I ever was.

I am in awe of my little girl and my wife and I thank them for opening my ignorant eyes to all the great women athletes in this world. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with a little girl and an athletic one at that.

Fran Dicari, Stats Dad

Editor’s Note: This was a guest post by Fran Dicari of Stats Dad – a dad blog that covers the drama, comedy and competition of youth sports in America. You can also follow Fran on Twitter at Stats_Dad.

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