I’ve recently had a lot of time to reflect on the people that helped shape who I have become. I mean, there are so many people that come into your life, only for you to realize 5 years later that their presence had a huge impact on you.
How lucky I was to have so many parents that were looking out for me as I grew up! My parents were always busy working and only attended three of my softball games. When I look back now, I know I want to be the parent that is always there for my son’s games. I have the luxury of a flexible schedule and my parents didn’t always have that. But, throughout my childhood experience, I was able to meet some parents that took me in, so I wanted to write a letter to them.
My Thank-You Letter
Thank you so much for taking me in when your family didn’t have to. I enjoyed every breakfast, lunch, and dinner we had together; experiencing new types of foods and restaurants is one of my favorite things. I grew up eating a lot of Vietnamese cuisine in my house and we never went to non-Asian restaurants. Yet, with you all I was able to fall in love with shrimp and grits, chicken and dumplings and, most importantly, butter.
Thank you for letting me stay with you when my parents couldn’t take me to a tournament. My family didn’t go on vacation a lot, but these tournaments allowed me to travel and see different parts of America. I will also never forget all the trips that I experienced with your family that had nothing to do with sports; you truly welcomed me in. I was able to do that solely due of the generosity of your family! Those experiences will be cherished for the rest of my life. It didn’t matter if it was recreational league sports or school travels—there were always parents taking care of me without even being asked to, those parents that just wanted to make sure that everything was okay.
I want to be the parent that you were. You are an inspiration to me! I am very thankful for you.
Making a Sports Team into a Community
Many parents are busy working and cannot make it every single game. That’s why other parents are so important. Sports teams become communities and parents are a huge part of that. You may be wondering, as a parent, how you can plug into your kid’s extracurricular activities and make a difference for the kids who are in situations like I was. Here are three things parents can do to help out:
1. Volunteer when the coaches ask!
This could include many different tasks, such as bringing snacks, being an assistant coach, or helping with clean-up/set-up. There are many needs, so make yourself available to help out however you can.
2. Form relationships with other parents.
We are all there for the same reasons—to support our children, to watch them grow in confidence, and to see them build character while doing something they enjoy. That’s already a connection that parents can build on when starting a conversation with someone next to them at the game. These relationships might never turn into anything, or they might become very important friendships. I always encourage parents to just have conversations with each other because we never know what will happen. It can be hard to make friends as parents and many parents often think, “when do I even have time to make friends?” This would be a great opportunity to do that!
3. Encourage your child to build relationships with teammates.
Teamwork and collaboration are very important skills that people must learn. When children are playing team sports they get the opportunity to develop these skills, and we get the opportunity to witness something beautiful. Learning how to be part of a team is not going to come easily to your children and they will probably need your help with this. As parents, we get to model healthy behaviors for our children. So, take this opportunity to be a good example by showing your child how important communication is with teammates and coaches.
To all the parents that have helped a kid out by either providing a snack or a ride, you are awesome! We are very thankful for you and hope you know you’re making a difference in these young athletes’ lives. We strive to be more like you.