My youngest daughter made the varsity cross country team as a freshman. She was fast, strong, and was seemingly invincible in her attitude towards her sister, her parents, and life in general.
Fast forward to this year, her senior year. She’s spent the last two years dealing with leg issues that we’ve spent $$$$ for to only have her crying because her shins hurt so bad. This year, she decided to swim. Just when we got our Saturdays back (our oldest daughter swam four years), BAM, we are back into the grind of six days a week! 🙂
It’s been fun to watch the progression of our youngest and her year of high school swim. While she was always very proud of her oldest sister, I don’t think she always respected the fact that she was a swimmer. Suddenly, it’s “I’m so tired”, “I’m so sore”, “I can’t believe that we swam four miles in practice today!”. The effort level had to be amped up to meet the level where her teammates are at. And, it’s been humbling for our youngest because she’s swam during the summer, she’s run, she’s played basketball, and been fairly successful in all of what she did. Swimming, it’s hard. It’s really hard and she’s not had the success that she was thinking she might. Has she dropped time? Heck yes. Has she had a ball with her new team? Oh goodness yes! Has she realized that she has to do some work to move forward? Finally, yes!! 😉
My hope, that this tiny little piece of growing up, figuring our her effort level is equal to her success level (and yes, we celebrate the little things) will translate into different areas of her life. She’s a monumental time waster (more so than I, and that’s saying something) and if she could take half the time she spends worrying about a misstep on social media and use to better herself, I would not worry about next year in college.
She’s openly admitted that she “wishes she’d listened to us” and swam four years. It’s been a joy to see her happy with her team, something that’s been a struggle for years. The Decorah team has been widely known in our area to have this great chemistry, and this year is no different. This year, there are four school districts competing under the Decorah umbrella, and I love that.
I love coaching basketball and will probably do it until my wife says “enough”. I miss going to cross country meets, seeing former students running their hearts out, yelling encouragement, and see that recognition of “hey, Mr. Johnston is here cheering for me!” But there’s nothing like a girls’ swim meet. The cheers they do at the beginning of the meet, the crazy parents, the way everyone encourages each other to swim their best, and how each meet is a competition between teams, but also a competition for yourself. No one can fumble the ball, no one can strike out, no one can miss the shot, it’s about you, the water, and how much better you can become as a swimmer.
I’ll get on my soap box here a bit with how cross country runners and swimmers are treated. Because it’s not the “traditional” fall sport of football or volleyball, it’s been called a “junk sport”. I’d love to see one of the top football players climb in a swim one of their workouts. Same with volleyball, jump in to see how “easy” swimming is (both daughters have been told their sport is easy). In fact, a few years back, one of the top cross country runners for Decorah climbed into the pool during summer swim, swam the workout, and said, “You guys are nuts!” My youngest came home and said they swam about 4 miles during their practice. But, I digress. 🙂
I’m a bit sad with this season as I know it will truly be our last. I’ll miss the pools, the dorky high school kids just having fun, and the competition. But most of all, I’ll miss my daughters in the water. Each has been able to make themselves into better swimmers and grow personally because of this experience.
September 26, 2017 at 11:10 am
What a great story about your daughter trying something new in her senior year. It looks like you are enjoying it too! My sister swam in high school and I did cross country, so it was fun to read about this from another family’s perspective.
September 26, 2017 at 6:56 pm
I played the “traditional” sports, but think I would have loved cross country. Of course, I cannot run right now because of my foot, but atmosphere of both is just so much fun!
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
September 26, 2017 at 1:46 pm
This is a great post that resonates with me. My sons also play the “less popular” or desirable sports in their respective seasons – although, I have never heard the term “junk” sport. My sophomore is enjoying a winning soccer season in the MVC (not too far from you), yet we are constantly reminded, soccer is not football, no matter how well the boys are doing. We have new coaches this year and they are really focused on the boys as “complete people”, not just althletes. We love that new attitude! My senior is a tennis player and has been on varsity starting in his Freshman year. These boys also work hard, playing daily to get better at their sport – even in the off season when the weather is cooperative. I am glad your daughter found an alternative sport and has learned much about hard work that so many still need to realize.
September 26, 2017 at 7:21 pm
Ugh. The lack of respect these other sports garner is just depressing. BUT, as long as they are enjoying and parents are happy, why not?? I LOVE that your coach is focusing on the whole person. I feel like coaches like that have that connect that makes them that much better with kids! We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the lessons learned here carry over for a long time! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
September 26, 2017 at 7:41 pm
Just curious….which MVC school?
September 26, 2017 at 7:47 pm
Our kids go to Holmen. We have played in Decorah with our past Park and Rec teams – it has been a few years, now. Our soccer player also played for MVS travelling league out of La Crescent MN during the last two summers.
September 26, 2017 at 8:01 pm
Would you know Janis Eldin or her parents at all?
September 26, 2017 at 8:53 pm
Nope. Sorry. That name is not familiar.
September 26, 2017 at 2:31 pm
I’ve been sidelined from swimming due to shoulder problems for the past year. Therefore, I can empathize with your daughter needing to try something new, with the soreness she feels after a long practice, and the joy of those swim meets. Who knows? Maybe she’ll go on to swim in college!
September 26, 2017 at 7:18 pm
I hope she does because she’s slimmed down and suddenly looks like a swimmer with the broad shoulders. And she likes the look too. Our oldest daughter finds time to swim because it’s such a great exercise, so I’m hoping that carries over! 🙂
September 26, 2017 at 4:41 pm
I’m glad that she found something that she was able to do that wasn’t hurting her like running did! hope the rest of her last season goes well and she finds a great love in swimmimng.
September 26, 2017 at 7:02 pm
She found the love, it’s just keep her focused!! 🙂
September 26, 2017 at 6:02 pm
Once a swimmer, always a swimmer! From the age of 9, I was on a swim team because I was able to dive off the block! I miss the pool, but enjoy the serene lake swims now. It’s fun to see my teenage girls wearing all of my old tees and sweatshirts. We even found a pair of boxers filled with “Sharpie”-d notes and time goals! You are right about the way girls connect as swimmers. We did some crazy things along the way and I would do it all over again! Enjoy the year and look forward to new challenges!
September 26, 2017 at 7:14 pm
That’s so cool!! The connections made outside our district are as real as any of the connections she’s all ready made, which makes our hearts smile. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
September 26, 2017 at 8:58 pm
Those things that we stick to, that we create rituals around, so often can sustain us long after the structure of teams fade. I wish I had a challenge like that, one that would be how I calmed, how I disengaged, how I challenged myself. You let her get there in her own way too. Way to go!
September 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm
Well, I’m not sure a “way to go” is in order because we REALLY wanted her to be in the musical for a number of reasons. She was determined to get to this point, and by gosh she willed herself here. 🙂 If my daughter is anything, she’s iron willed, so I can be proud (sort of) of that! 🙂
September 26, 2017 at 10:18 pm
Cross-country athletes (and swimmers) are the toughest. After all, running or laps are the other sports’ punishment. On another note, my daughter played volleyball all through junior high and high school, became tired of the drama after junior year, auditioned for a role in the school musical her senior year and got the lead! Wow! What a flip! Kids need to try it all ‘cuz you just never know!
September 27, 2017 at 12:58 pm
I agree! They are awesome strong and awesome goofy for being able to tolerate the sport! I love cross country in the sense of family they tried to put together and I love swimming for that family they have! That’s so awesome that she’s able to find that other activity! I assume she’s a good singer to start with! 🙂
September 27, 2017 at 8:38 pm
Yes… you guessed it! Now sings all. the. time.