**IMAGE ABOVE: MY MUM AND I IN CALIFORNIA AROUND 1995*
Life for me growing up seemed pretty normal at times. I would go to school and get to play with my friends after school and on the weekends. We would make up games in the front yard, bike to different places and eventually ride our scooters to get snacks at the corner store. Life was pretty normal… or so it seemed.
Upon reflection, what strikes me the most is a realization of something that I think about often:
We didn’t have a lot but I had absolutely no idea
Fast forward to today, my admiration and appreciation of my parents continues to grow. Perhaps one of the most special things in my upbringing was that I didn’t have any idea that we didn’t have a lot. While this seems like an odd statement, allow me to explain.
My parents worked so hard to make sure we didn’t miss out on things that other kids participated in. We got to have bikes, have video games and we always felt so special on our birthdays. What I didn’t understand at the time was how hard they worked and how much extra they worked to make sure that we never felt like we were missing out on opportunities because we couldn’t afford things.
I was 5 and my dad brought home a box. Confused as to what it could be, I followed my sister into the family room.
A NINTENDO 64 AND MARIO KART!!!! Are you kidding me? When you’re in kindergarten and want to be cool, have the latest and greatest game system and I think that is a pretty good starting point.
I was 7 and I got to sign up to play my first 5V5 Spring soccer, I was over the moon. I remember my mom taking me to sign up and it was one of the highlights for me. I would play games and my parents or grandpa would take me to games and I remember them cheering me on. I would get my cleats ready and get a Powerade to take to the game.. I was living the life!
Fast forward to grade 9 and I made the basketball team. In celebration of this, my mom took me to buy new basketball shoes. TMac 2’s… if you know, you know! I felt so special and I remember my mom smiling asking me if those were the shoes I want. She only began to laugh as I was saying YES before she finished her question.
As I hit my teen years I began to develop an understanding that we weren’t the most well off financially but my parents went the extra mile to make things work so we never missed out.
As I run a program currently that has costs tied to it. I just wanted to send a huge amount of appreciation to the parents/guardians who are doing the very best they can with what they have to make sure the kids in my camps have an opportunity to be a part of something and don’t miss out. I have seen parents drive 3 hours for their child to participate for 90 minutes and drive back. COVID has limited spectators in gyms currently and yet that won’t deter a parent from standing outside in the cold/rain to watch their child train or sit in a car with a coffee while the child trains.
I fully understand for families there can be a large amount of juggling finances to make sure things can be paid for without kids having to miss out. In doing so, this can make short term finances tight and that can be stressful as well.
THE GIVE BACK
The Give Back was created as a series of camps and training to raise funds to be kept on the side for families in need. 100% of the funds raised in The Give Back program go towards helping families and athletes in need.
A constant reminder at the end of each session is to thank those that paid for you to be a part of programs and drove you to be a part of programs.
To my athletes, just know that life isn’t easy and things aren’t free. Be grateful, help out and never take things for granted because circumstances can change really quick which may force you to miss out on programs.
To the parents, you all are tremendous. I hope the athletes realize how special you are and how hard you work to make life better for the kids. We can’t wait to see you back in the gyms cheering your kids on!
I see you
I appreciate you
and I thank you!