Determination, Sportsmanship. . .True Athleticism


I have a couple of strong female athletes in my house whom we call "The Ni-Ni" and "The Marz".  One is a cross-country/track&field runner and the other a AAA soccer player trying out for the national team.  I have big dreams for both of them but I think their dreams are bigger than mine.  I try and teach them about determination and good sportsmanship from my personal experience of being a collegiate but my stories are another one of "Mom's stories", so needless to say they do not want to listen.  Hey, I get it!

Well, this past weekend, I happened to stumble over an ESPNW special titled Nine for IX "Runner" Mary Decker, an American Idol.  It's an overall look at Mary Decker's track&field career from when she was 12 years old to the fall in the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles to the closing of her career after the 1996 Olympics.  If you want  to teach your young athletes (particularly female athletes) about determination, sportsmanship and how to use their PURE athleticism, this story delivers so much more. 

I watched the special with each of my girls separately.  I didn't plan it that way but it worked out because they are both learning two very different things when it comes to their individual sports. 


With my soccer player, I am trying to teach her that there is no "I" in team.  You have to take the good with the bad, the wins with the losses and understand that not everyone plays like you. Having good sportsmanship is vital for a team to be successful and being upset over someone else's decision on how to play the game (whether right or wrong)  and wearing it on your sleeve doesn't help you or your team.  If anything, it shows your true character if you don't handle a situation with dignity and good sportsmanship.  

My runner is beginning to understand that it's all about determination and not giving up.  Being in an individual sport, everything shows and there is no one else to blame but yourself.  If you want to be a champion in your own right, you have to push past what you know you can do and challenge yourself to see what is really possible.  There is no one there holding you back but yourself.  

In this ESPNW special, as any great American story, there is a rise, a fall and a comeback.  It shows all sides of being a champion, the ups and downs, the frustration and the drive to be the best when all the cards are stacked against you.  You also learn that no matter if you win the gold or not, it's all about who you are inside that makes you a winner.  I think it took a long time for Decker to accept her Olympic fate but she learned from it and kept running despite what everyone else thought of her.  

Click on the links above to check local listings and times.  It's a great story to teach young, upcoming athletes.  Be determined, have great sportsmanship and share your gift of how to be a strong and talented athlete!