Positive role models:
I have to admit, I’m not one for holding people up on a pedestal. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that I grew up in a family with two sisters and one brother, the latter who never committed a wrongful act(or at least was never accused of it). It’s an Italian thing I suppose. I was just born this way. It’s not my fault. And I wished I was a boy, because life would have been so much easier. The boys in Italian families get away with more. It’s just a simple fact. With that said, my big brother did have a very positive impact on my life. As a young boy, he would have liked to play hockey, the National sport of Canada, however our family didn’t have the means to support this so he borrowed some skates from a neighbourhood friend and taught himself how to skate on a local pond. I followed by borrowing a pair of skates which were too small and skated for hours in the bitter cold until I couldn’t feel my toes. I remember this day as if it was yesterday. There I was, 7-year-old me, screaming in pain while my father rubbed my feet. He thought he was helping. If you’ve ever had frostbite you know that this would NOT be the course of treatment.
So back to my brother. Growing up his little sister, I watched him get into any sport he could. He had such a passion for sports. He played basketball, football, tennis, track, pond hockey and even raced annually in our neighbourhood soap box derby. He excelled at everything he did because he had heart and passion and dedication. He wasn’t the most gifted athlete,yet still managed to become the most valuable player in every sport he played. He really was a great athlete and continued to be well into his 40’s, playing touch football at the National level with men half his age.
It wasn’t easy to follow in his footsteps. I did the best I could do. When he trained for football and basketball I would run with him and participate in speed and agility drills. He pushed me and I pushed myself even more because I wanted him to be proud of his little sister.
Several years later as adults he once told me I would have been a great athlete had I not discovered boys. hmm… I took it as a compliment. More to the point, was his positive influence on me. No matter what I do in sport or otherwise, even though I may not be the best or most gifted I will always try my best.
My husband is the most important role model in my life. He too, grew up in hard times. Worked as a child on the family farm. Was operating a tractor at age 8, hauling bushels of grapes during wine season every day after school. Even though he would have liked to be playing soccer with his buddies.
He’d try escaping his chores during football and soccer season. Knowing full well that he had chores, he would stay after school to participate in a practice session when his father would show up, and with one whistle he’d drop everything, run to the car go home and do his chores. There were no exceptions or choices.
Somehow, he managed to play and excel at sports and academics. The evidence is in the multiple trophies and awards his mother gladly packaged up for me when we wed. With so much being demanded of him, he learned how to manage his time at an early age.
When our first son was three we enrolled him in a house league soccer team. The teams were mixed and many of us moms did a lot of hand holding on the field. Some kids were more interested in picking dandelions.LOL But as the years passed, they too learned how to pass a ball and work together as a team. My husband has played an active role in coaching both our boys. They both started playing soccer at the tender age of three. He has always found the time in his hectic schedule to dedicate and share his passion and knowledge for soccer. Over the years, he has taken boys of no skill whatsoever and has instilled in them the confidence they need to play with more naturally talented boys. No easy feat.
It’s exciting for him to see his players articulate those skills in a game which he has taught in practice sessions.
In one particular indoor soccer season, he was allotted a group of mixed talented twelve-year-old boys, a few of which had never had contact with a soccer ball. With every week that advanced, we witnessed the growing confidence of these boys. My husband received several thanks from parents both during and the end of the season. One particular thank you stood out and spoke volumes.
“Dear Coach Terry,
Jason has been having a great season – I really appreciate how you make the practices fun, emphasize the importance of good sportsmanship and also the positive reinforcement.
There are lots of lessons in not winning and giving it your best shot. It has been pretty pleasing to watch the boys continue to try to work together even when things aren’t going their way.
Thanks for giving of your time.”
If you have a story of someone who has positively influenced your life, share it with me.