Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Parent's View of the JN Experience

Elizabeth Wilcox, mom of Zoe Snow, sent in this perspective on being a CSU parent:

For most club sports, being the parent of an athlete does little to enrich your life. I have a clear memory of one eighth-grade club soccer practice. It was raining and I had just driven 45 minutes through traffic to a field with five girls on it, too few to scrimmage three-on-three. Having played soccer in college and a member of a year-round adult team, I offered to be the sixth. I was dressed for a run and given the girls were only 14, I thought I might, dare I say it, be able to offer some help. Zoe’s coach refused. Parents in club soccer were relegated to the sidelines, or in the case of inclement weather, their cars. So I sat for 45 minutes inside my car ruing the day she signed up, while the girls floundered about on a soggy, wet field.

Fast forward four years. Something Zach Caldwell wrote last year has stuck with me. CSU has found a way, he suggested, to capitalize on the energy of all its helicopter parents, harnessing their energy and involvement to create a stronger, more successful club. I might argue the reverse. The energy of the club and the people involved has enriched my life far more than what I’ve brought to it. Take the recent Junior Nationals. We did not accompany Zoe to Fairbanks, Alaska. Instead, we were compelled to watch results online. Like Nathan, I developed a race strategy of my own. Not one for suspense (full disclosure: I sometimes read the back page of a book), I decided throughout the duration of the race, I would lay in a hot tub relaxing, reading, or if nerves necessitated it, playing words-with-friends, while Lucian would watch the results stream live downstairs. Needless to say, a few words spelled (sadly, low scoring ones) and I was calling Lucian from the cell in the tub to the home line downstairs. Of course, the trouble came when Zoe made it through to the next round, scheduled for three hours later. I rationally decided that for Zoe to ski well, I had to get back into the tub, but how? The tub would be either stone cold or drained. And that’s when Zoe’s younger brother Oliver stepped in (it takes a village), running his own tub, which I later climbed in. But then I got to thinking, what if she went forward from there, could I lie in cold water? If I did it two more times, might hypothermia set in? Or if I laid fully clothed in an empty tub, would that have the same positive effect on Zoe’s race? And would Oliver ever be able to look me straight in the eye again having known his mother lay, fully clothed with a cell phone, pretending to play words with friends, in a tub, twice, while his sister raced?

Zoe did go on and now prune-like and chastened by Oliver’s disapproving glances, I decided I really couldn’t get back in. And that’s where the CSU parents came in. Peter Hoenig had been talking to Lucian, working out how to best track results. Dave Brams and Alan McEwen, both on location in Fairbanks, had been calling in. We had our support team in place. Come the final race, Alan got on the phone with Lucian while Dave called me on the cell downstairs, providing skate-by-skate live narration of the race. Zoe finished. She was smiling. We’d all survived.

Being a CSU parent can be demanding. We wax, we drive long distances, we bring food to races, we spend hard-earned money on equipment. But what I relish most about CSU is that Rob and the other coaches never relegate anyone to the sidelines. Come inclement weather, we never sit in our cars. Unlike those soccer parents, we are encouraged to ski, to coach or, if we’re feeling really brave, race. We stand together, supporting our kids and each other, sharing our joys and disappointments. I feel so fortunate to be able to enjoy the friendship and camaraderie of so many engaged, down-to-earth, and kind-hearted adults. When Zoe joined CSU freshmen year, Jim Stock said to me that the people whom she would really come to value and from whom she would learn so much would be the CSU community. I never thought the same would be said of me.

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