Growing up, I lived in a "boy dominant" household. Four athletic brothers are a powerful (literally) thing. Boys are tough, but they taught me to be tough as well. They (along with my parents) also taught me to be involved in and appreciate sports.
As a result, sports has long been a passion of mine. From softball to field hockey, I've always cherished my memories of playing on a team. I loved going to practice, accomplishing goals and staying in shape. I've envisioned the same lifestyle for my girls.
My older daughter, at the age of three, made it clear she wasn't into dance lessons. We finished the session and tried soccer the next year. This went over like a fart in church. She was agile and athletic, but hated people "running at her."
The next year, she tried gymnastics, and she cried the whole way to the first practice. But when she came out of practice? All smiles. We had found her "thing."
Since that day, she's competed in dozens of meets and achieved more skills than I could have ever imagined. Her body is strong, and she could show every boy in her class a thing or two about how to do a pull up. Or a push up. She wears shirts such as "I don't need boys I can win by myself" and she loves to tell her football playing brothers, "If gymnastics were easy it would be called football."
They don't like that very much.
I've seen how being involved in sports gives kids self esteem. Gymnastics did this for my daughter, and I've watched her work towards goals and face many fears. At one meet, she had to turn her handstand on the beam to dismount. It was a required skill.
She hated this skill. This skill was the source of many tears and tummy aches. We went to this meet and as she mounted the beam, my tummy ached. The thirty seconds she did her routine seemed like an eternity, and when it was time to dismount I held my breath.
And then she turned it.
My baby girl scored a 9.0 on beam at her first meet of the season, staring down a skill that had her in tears just a week before.
That meet was almost three years ago, and she is still kicking butt in the gym. I'm just as proud watching her as I am watching my boys on that football field. I will forever stand behind my belief that all kids need to be involved in something, whether it be sports or band or chess club.
Being involved keep kids out of trouble, and it gives them purpose. What I love about sports is that is also teaches them how to play on a team, stay healthy and get up and keep going even when things aren't going great.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Verizon. The opinions and text are all mine.