As I’ve said before my oldest daughter took a major leap of faith, joining a swim team where she knew a grand total of one person. She was a breath away from not swimming, but looked at herself, and this other swimmer and decided “why not?”
This other girl is a senior this year, has been a student in my classroom, shows cattle with us, and our families have become close over the last four years as our children have spent a lot of time at the pool and the barn. The last four years, she’s given up a lot during the fall to swim, yet has always kept a smile on her face, and that’s what my daughter has watched. This senior has swam hard, but yet has kept positive in the face of many different problems from school, friends, and missing various events. She’s taken my daughter under her wing at swim practice, introducing her to various people, keeping an eye on her, and watching her grow into her place on the team. My wife and I could not have asked for a better young woman for our daughter to be around, and learn what it means to lead from.
The power of a positive role model cannot be understated here. My daughter has observed many of our student athletes deal with our good conduct policy because of their choices over the weekend. While they do that, last night, she was able to swim her best meet so far, smiling, laughing, and enjoying her time with her friend from our school. Without this positive role model in her life, she wouldn’t be as confident as she is not, working hard to achieve a 4.0 while swimming six days a week. She’s got this senior to thank for that, blazing the trail before her, holding her grades, being active, and becoming an outstanding swimmer in her own right.
How many times to do we say “thank you” to those positive role models or do we just expect their best all the time? My daughter got a small gift for her friend last night, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. We need to seek out those students, parents, or friends who are those positive people, and thank them for being that model for others to look up to. That acknowledgement is what some need, just to be noticed for doing the right thing. I know I’m guilty of not doing that as much as I should.
Next year, my daughter will miss her friend greatly, but yet, because of this relationship, this friendship, she will be that positive role model for another young swimmer. As much as I’m enjoying watching her this year, I can’t wait for her to step into that role, continuing the tradition.