During the Sports Mom Mantra workshop, a participant recalled seeing disappointing behavior at one of her 12 year old daughter’s softball games.
After a tense and competitive ending, the teams lined up to show camaraderie and sportsmanship, the participant recalled. As the middle schoolers were high fiving, the opponent’s coach went down the line and struck the students hand’s aggressively; angry over how the game played out, the participant said.
The 15 other mothers in the room shook their heads in disappointment during the inaugural workshop at the Netherwood Knoll Elementary School library on Feb. 10. And many wondered out loud, how do parents and athletes balance the positive impacts of youth sports with the negative?
That is exactly why parent Amy Crowe started this workshop, she said. After years of weekly practices and weekend tournaments, Crowe saw the positive experiences her daughter gained from youth sports, but also the negative.
Crowe recalled last summer an incident where her daughter was playing league softball and a teammate didn’t catch an opponent sliding into home base.
“You should have had that,” the assistant coach yelled. Crowe said she was heart broken.
That experience, as well as others, has resulted in Crowe’s daughter making herself small after mistakes, being afraid to speak up and comparing herself to others.
Crowe wanted to know how to combat the shame, comparison and perfectionism, she said.
Five years ago, those experiences prompted her to start doing research on creating a better environment for children in sports. She joined sports mom’s Facebook pages, studied the “I love to watch you play” website and read all the Brene Brown books on shame and vulnerability.
Crowe also interviewed coaches in the Oregon area to collect their best practices with dealing with issues with athletes or teams.
Now, she wants to share the knowledge she’s gained over years of weekly practices and weekend tournaments, with the workshop being the first step in what she hopes to be a community conversation surrounding youth sports.
Parents who participated in the workshop have children ranging from second graders to sophomores in college. Part of the work, Crowe said, said it is about changing the mindsets of the athletes and the parents.
In negative circumstances, Crowe said, we can encourage athletes to recognize the things they can’t control like spectator parents, team dynamics and aggressive coaches and focus on what they can control like positivity, comparison and self worth.
During the Sports Mom Mantra class, Crowe created a workbook for parents to take home. Some of the messages in the book included “comparison robs you of your joy” and “find your voice, speak up, don’t play small, don’t give up.”
After trying to find answers of how to talk to her daughter and improve her confidence, Crowe said she fully embraces the idea of a growth mindset and hopes to encourage other parents to embrace that mindset too.
“When you have a growth mindset, you know that you will make mistakes and you know you will receive feedback you don’t like but it’s not tied to your self-worth,” Crowe wrote to the Observer in an email. “Instead of the feedback or set-back stopping you — you embrace it, learn from it and go forward – gaining more confidence as you do.”