Confessions of a Youth Sports Dad
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.
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.