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Archive for April, 2012

The much anticipated movie for the American Girl doll of the year, who just happens to be a gymnast, An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars will be out this summer – specifically July 14 at 8pm on NBC right before the Olympics and it will be available on DVD & Blu-Ray July 3rd. The trailer for the movie is out and can be found on YouTube. You can also read my interview with one of the movie’s main characters, Toulane, played by Ysa Penarejo.

The story is about McKenna Brooks, a young gymnast with her sites set on the Olympics. The side story has to do with keeping the balance in your life as McKenna struggles in school. An injury seems like the end of the world to McKenna at first, but ends up being the catalyst for taking on other challenges in her life. It will probably have just enough gymnastics in the movie to make gymnastic fans not want to change the channel and the story line will be popular with girls and their parents, too. In a way it reminds me of a Disney-fied version of Stick It– specifically the pretend telephone scene right at the beginning, but I think it will be fun!

Official movie synopsis: Meet McKenna Brooks™, a determined and confident young gymnast, in this all-new modern-day adventure. McKenna™ is on track to make the regional competitive gymnastics team but off-track in school, where she’s suddenly struggling to keep up. When her teacher suggests a tutor, she’s embarrassed and desperate to keep it a secret from her friends. Then a bad fall at the gym sidetracks her from her favorite sport. Will she recover in time to make the team? Can she succeed in school, too? McKenna™ needs to focus on her strengths to overcome her challenges – and, with the help of family and friends, find a way to believe in herself again.

And Olympic legend, Cathy Rigby, stars as McKenna’s coach. Got your DVR set?

For more on American Girl’s McKenna, her collection (much of which is already sold out – so glad we got her bars and beam when we did), and more on the movie, visit You can also get her books – which my daughter loved – McKenna (American Girl) (American Girl Today) and McKenna (American Girl) (American Girl Today).

Categories : Gymnastics, Olympics, Videos
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How to Choose the Right Softball Bat

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how to choose a softball batOne of the hardest things about starting a new sport is knowing what equipment to purchase. In the case of softball, while there are definitely exceptions to every rule, the following are guidelines that should help you when choosing a softball bat for your daughter:
  • A bat generally should not be any taller off the ground than your waist.  
  • You also need to pay attention to the weight of the bat. For younger players it is a good rule of thumb to get bats that have a -12 weight ratio. This means if a bat you choose is 30 inches long, the weight of the bat would be 18 ounces. This helps with bat speed which is critical when hitting against faster pitchers. An exception to the rule would be if your child is much taller and stronger than most of her peers. 
  • The next thing to consider is the type of material you want the bat to be constructed out of. The three most common are steel, aluminum and composite. The first two are going to be the most cost effective and provide a decent “pop” off of the bat when making contact off of the bat. Composite bats on the other hand range in price from $100 to $300. They provide an extreme amount of “pop” off of the bat when making contact with the ball. This essentially means that a hitter making contact with a ball is going to hit the ball further when using a composite softball bat versus a metal bat. One downside to a composite bat is durability. You should never use a composite bat when the temperatures are below 55 degrees. 
  •  The last option to consider when buying a softball bat is weather the bat you choose is balanced or endloaded. A balanced bat means the weight of the bat is evenly balanced over the full length of the bat making it easier for younger and smaller players to have enough bat speed to hit the ball against all types of pitchers. An endloaded bat puts more weight towards the end of the bat making the ball go even further when hit. It makes the bat feel even heavier than the listed weight making it ideal for the bigger, stronger, power hitters in the game. 
I hope this helps you when making your decision on what type of bat to buy. I hope your daughters have a terrific season!
Guest post by Chris Houck, girls softball and co-ed softball team coach and softball Dad. 
Photo: Flickr
Categories : Softball
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Get out your tissues!! Proctor & Gamble has just released a new commercial in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics and Mother’s Day that celebrates all the little things Moms do in the background for their children.

Of course, this commercial puts the athlete spin on things, but whether your child is an athlete in the making, aspiring musician, budding academic, or just an all around great kid, chances are you can relate to the commercial. And if you are not a Mom, you have a Mom and she probably was there for you every step of the way, too.

And before we start hearing, what about the Dads? Well, Dads do a lot of great things too, and in many cases the same things Mom does. I’m sure we will see Dads show up in commercials at some point this summer, too. Either way, our athletes can not do it with out us! It is a long road full of ups and downs – enjoy the journey!

Categories : Olympics, Parenting
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