Dear Parents Of Youth Athletes,

Today I am sharing my daughter’s story of determination, persistence, and grit in hopes that if you have a son or daughter in sports and they’ve experienced the heartbreak of being cut, that they can learn from Paityn’s story.

My husband and I have always encouraged and enabled our kids to try out different activities and sports since they were young. We have three children, Paityn our oldest, Khali and Lachlan.

Paityn our 14-year-old, has tried almost every sport you can think of. Right now, she plays softball, volleyball, cross country and karate. However, of all the sports she plays, she chose to pursue volleyball more intensely than all the others.

The challenge for Paityn was that at her school, sports teams are really hard to make. Consider this, 80 girls try out for only 12 spots. Yes, you read that right. 80 girls, only 12 spots.

You start trying out in grade 6, which she did for both basketball and volleyball and she made the first round of cuts, but not the second. She was disappointed but okay, as only a few grade 6 girls usually make it.

Grade 7 is when you can really be apart of the team, so again she tried out for both teams. Again made first cut, but not the team.

She was devastated.

And to make it worse her best friend made both teams.

She just wanted to be apart of a school team so badly.

I was worried that she was going to quit trying out altogether. And my fear came true as she did quit basketball. But she was determined to make the volleyball team. That year she did camps, skills sessions, worked one-on-one with a coach and practiced many days and evenings in our backyard.

It was incredibly hard as a parent to carry the emotion and disappointment of her not making the team and watch her self-confidence waver and become shaky. All we could do is encourage her dedication and hard work, hoping that it would take her to where she wanted to be. We also focused on her attitude and kept things positive.

It was very tempting as a parent to go in and talk to the coach and discuss why my daughter had made the team. It was also tempting to start making excuses as to why she didn’t make the team.

But it was important to take a step back and realize this was just one team, at one time. And being that kind of parent wasn’t the message that I wanted to teach her.

Grade 8 came and she could try out for both the junior and senior teams. She tried out for both and ended up making the junior team. Paityn was excited to get the chance to play volleyball, but disappointed to not be playing senior volleyball with most of the girls from her class.

However, this was just what she needed, as she got a lot of playing time and took on a leadership role. It was an incredibly positive experience.

Her school team ended up going to city championships last season which was a thrill! Her team was down 13-6 and they fought their way back. Paityn ended up serving the last 5 points to win the game and the championship 15-13. It was a rollercoaster of a game for everyone and an emotional one, especially for me. To watch her overcome adversity, work hard, fight back, make the team and win the city championship? It was the perfect finish to exemplify her determination.

Her father and I are incredibly proud.

This experience gave her the confidence to try out for a club volleyball team which she made, and to top it off, she was awarded the most improved player at the awards banquet.

Life for Paityn means volleyball almost all year round. Her coaches always mention that she has such a positive attitude and is very coachable. These comments always make me smile!

Currently, she is trying out for her senior volleyball team at school and I’m not sure who is more nervous Paityn or myself. This is her only option for a school team this year and if she doesn’t make this team she does not get to play school volleyball.

That’s a lot of pressure for a 14-year-old.

Sport has given so much to Paityn. She’s now very active, she knows what it means to be apart of a team and she’s met so many girls who share similar interests to her and have become fast friends.

But most importantly I feel it has taught her resilience.

Not making a team at the time is tough for any young athlete. As adults, we know in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a small blip in life, but it’s crushing for our kids who don’t always see the bigger picture. But the lessons learned from the letdown, are so valuable in life.

I think as parents we have to remember that the goal of sport is for kids to be active, build friendships and have fun. I see so many sports where parents become too involved in the politics of it, egos get in the way and it can ruin the experience for a child.

There is nothing I love more as a Mom than watching Paityn play volleyball, a sport I loved and played as a kid too.

Every young athlete has a story to tell. If as parents we just get out of their way, they can author their own story in a beautiful way we could never predict.

Have a great season everyone!