As a competitive gymnast for 10 years, I spent most of my childhood in the gym. My time was probably evenly split between the gym and school and with being at home. I was not alone. So many other athletes experienced their coaches almost as second parents because of the time and commitment they had to each other.
I learnt key valuable lesson from being in the gym. I faced almost every emotion from frustration, failures, physical pain, and exhaustion to achievements, successes, and overwhelming joy. I grew incredibly close with my teammates and we supported one another while we tested the boundaries of our physical and mental capacities on a daily basis.
Although I was never socially close with my coaches, I would say in some ways they new me better than my actual parents. When you spend 5 hours a day, 5 days a week physically and mentally pushing yourself, certain patterns tend to become apparent. A particular look, gesture, or extra pause before attempting a skill can tell a lot about what is going through an athlete’s thoughts. I had the pleasure of seeing these physical cues from both an athlete’s and a coach’s perspective.
I believe coaches and teachers are the silent leaders for children and youth. They can shape a child in ways that parents may never know or appreciate. I owe a lot of who I am today because of these influences and I want to acknowledge those who have contributed.
It is no coincidence that all my teammates are passionate and successful adults who are mostly comprised of teachers or health care practitioners.
It is refreshing to know that with the proper influences, our youth are in good hands. However, it also disturbs me to learn that schools are cutting back class room days and extra-curricular activities, not to mention gym classes, especially in the United States.
With all this extra time and guardians who quite possibly do not have the time or finances to entertain their youth, what will they be up to? If anyone can shed more light on this dilemma or have a different take on the issue, I welcome your comments.