So much credit gets given to athletes for their passion, dedication, and commitment to their sport. What is often forgotten are the parents behind the pro. No one ever does anything alone, and a closer look at most athletes’ life will usually find parents who put their children first and sacrificed greatly to see them succeed.
I had the unique situation of being the youngest boy of five. Add in my younger sister and you have a busy household. Throw in the fact that we all played sports and both my parents worked full time and you may have a recipe for disaster.
Somehow, someway, just like so many other great parents out there, they found a way to make it work. I can’t remember a basketball or football game in my entire elementary or high school life when I would look up into the stands and not see them there. Easy enough if that was just me, but add in four more boys and their sporting events and you’re talking about the kind of commitment and juggling of schedules only a true sports parent can understand.
Things got a little trickier once two of my older brothers went off to Simon Fraser University to play football. My high school games would mostly be played during the week, meaning come 4 or 5 a.m. Saturday morning we would all load up the car to make the 1 o’clock kick off in somewhere like Ellensburg Washington or maybe Salem Oregon.
My university days were no different. Every single game I played, they made sure they were there. I remember them driving all the way to Humboldt California, only to see us get pummeled by the Lumberjacks. Soo upset after the loss, my mom stormed on our team bus and informed my coach they were driving their son home and taking me for a nice meal on the way. I love my parents.
Twelve years after starting my professional career, nothing had really changed. Their yearly vacation was a planned road trip to such exotic locations as Hamilton or Winnipeg. They arrived only early enough to meet the fans pre-game and stayed just long enough to chat with me post-game.
My last playing season, 2012 Regina was the trip choice. With no desire for sightseeing the mission was simple; A 22-hour straight car ride there, cheer their boy on, quick chat post game, and straight back home. You see, it doesn’t matter if you’re 6, or going on 36, you’re their child. Support, care and love what they can give.
My parents never tried to be my brand manager, agent or coach. They were always parents. They got me where I needed to go, cheered me on as much as possible and made sure I (and of my teammates that needed it) got fed well after playing. They weren’t trying to live their dreams through me, they were there to support me in living mine.
Yes, I’m probably one of the lucky ones, but I’m far from being alone. Many of my teammates that year, just like so many other years had parents that did just the same. The Lulay Clan make the 8 or so hour drive every single week to still see their boy throw touchdowns. Ben Archibald’s parents were game day mainstays as well making the weekly trek all the way from Gearhart Oregon. The list goes on and on, as do the cookies, and other tasty treats that always seemed to keep showing up from somebody’s mom.
It’s not easy trying to become a professional athlete. The effort and commitment are more than most people could imagine. What gets lost many times in that discussion, however, are the parents. More credit than could ever be written must go to the ones who taught us how to lace up our first sneakers. They signed us up and drove us to our first sport. They made sure our uniforms got washed and cheered us on during every victory and defeat. If you’re one of the lucky ones like me, most of that has and never will change. Well, except for maybe the lacing up your sneakers part.