8:00 AM: 3 boys, ages 11, 9, and 7, are dressed in various sports uniforms, equipment bags packed and ready at the door, calmly eating a healthy breakfast and ready to begin the day. 9:30 AM: Boy 1 has a game and all the family is there to watch. 11:30am - Boy 2 has a game and all the family is there to watch. 1:00pm - Family enjoys a relaxing lunch. 2:30pm - Boy 3 has a game and all the family is there to watch. 4:00pm – Boy 1 has a clinic while Boy 2 has an individual lesson. 5:00pm – Family returns home happy and ready to enjoy the rest of the evening!
Ha! Right. More like 8:00 AM: 3 boys, ages 11, 9, and 7 are half-dressed. eating anything that can be found in the pantry while mom and dad run up and down the stairs looking for a lost jersey, the other cleat, a baseball glove, and a lacrosse stick. 2 boys jump in one car and 1 boy – with tennis shoes because other cleat was never found – jumps in another car since all 3 games overlap at various athletic venues while the clinic and individual lesson are on opposite sides of town. Mom and Dad frantically drive from field to gym, trying to divide and conquer and maybe watch a little of whatever game they can while grabbing food on the go to feed whichever boys are in the car, only stopping quickly to redistribute boys for the next event on schedule. 5:00 pm - Family returns home hungry and exhausted with mounds of laundry. Oh! There’s the other cleat.
"Most of our athletic experiences have been positive and all we could hope for our boys, but sometimes we've had to dig deep and figure out what we could learn when experiences were difficult."
In our Smith huddle, it did not take long to realize the next 17 or so years would find us at all types of gyms, fields, and athletic facilities cheering on our teams, improving their skills, and finding ways to support their love of sports. Through the years, we have been a part of many different sports programs, covering seven different sports, so you can only imagine all the experiences, circumstances, and situations we have encountered. Most of our athletic experiences have been positive and all we could hope for our boys, but sometimes we've had to dig deep and figure out what we could learn when experiences were difficult. I want to share three thoughts that have consistently been a part of our thinking as we raised our boys to be student athletes and how St. George’s has been a part of it since the beginning.
Balance: We are not always successful, but that is the goal. Because our three boys are so close in age, the level of commitment required for each was about the same. Therefore, we strived to find a balance of time, extra skill lessons, and competitive teams. Although there were days I wished I could alter the clock, there really are only 24 hours in a day! Not only did we want a balance of time and schedules, but also a balance of family, education, spiritual growth and other interests. We wanted to be sure we made athletic choices that gave our boys opportunities and time to grow and develop into well rounded young men. Our hope was for the boys to find a variety of interests, and at St. George’s our boys have been able to do just that. Now, sports are still the dominant interest, but the boys have also played in the modern music band, volunteered in the community, participated in church and Young Life, played alternative sports like ultimate Frisbee and rock climbing, and even enjoyed the unique river and outdoor experiences that St. George’s offers. Better yet, they were able to do all this while balancing a superior and challenging academic environment.
Character: We knew athletics would provide all kinds of experiences for our boys to learn and grow. Through their sports, they have developed determination, courage, and perseverance. They experienced victory that celebrated their hard work and achievements while learning how to be joyous, kind, and humble. They experienced defeat and felt disappointment, while learning how to gather around their teammates and others who embolden them to keep moving forward. Sometimes our boys had to learn what it means to be a supportive player and sit on the bench while the stronger and more skilled athletes played. Other times, our boys have been the starting players with positions of leadership to guide their teammates. At St. George’s, we found athletics to be an integral part of the education experience with the purpose of giving our boys the tools they needed to develop the whole person. Athletics shaped their character, teaching them to work with teammates for a common purpose. Now if it could only teach them how to do the laundry from all these sports!
Service: We always tell the boys you don’t have to look far to serve others. Some of the most meaningful service is right where we are in the things we do every day. I found myself called to serve in the place where my boys were spending their time, and I felt the best way to support our boys was to serve in the area of their athletics. I knew there were many ways to take the knowledge I had gained from our varied experiences and use it to serve our school. In the early years, sometimes the boys were asked to play on teams and other times I would find a way to form a team, if needed, through community and church organizations. If a coach needed help, then I offered to help so the coach could focus on, well … coaching! As much as I was struggling with schedules, I knew other parents were in the same boat. So we worked together to develop carpools, monitor study halls before practice, bring snacks, find equipment, and help take care of each other’s children. St. George’s is certainly a place that promotes a Community of Service.
"We have cheered our boys on and taken tons of pictures in celebration, and we have hugged our boys in disappointment when their teams didn’t make it as far as they would like."
As our boys grew into middle school they wanted to play for their school, and that’s when I saw the need shift to assisting the school coaches as a team parent. There is so much we can achieve when working together as parents, coaches, and staff. Communication can be stronger, athletic programs can be strengthened, and traditions can be built. At its most important level, serving as team mom is about the players. One of my favorite things is listening to the players talk and laugh while serving them a good meal for a team dinner. Sometimes it can weigh heavy on my heart when the season isn’t going as hoped and the players board the bus sad and frustrated. But service is just being there for them, organizing a team event, maybe baking some of their favorite cookies, and being willing to hug them even though they are smelly and sweaty.
We have cheered our boys on and taken tons of pictures in celebration, and we have hugged our boys in disappointment when their teams didn’t make it as far as they would like. We have watched them circle around each other with tears and parting words from their senior teammates. We have been a part of building traditions at our school like the Lacrosse Shoot Out and Gryphon Walk & Tailgate, and we have been a part of continuing traditions like Senior Night and Wagon Wheel, which is played after every varsity football home victory. We are so thankful to be a part of the many families that serve to make our boys' school so special.
No matter how organized we are – sometimes, we just cannot find that uniform we need right then, and sometimes our experiences are like those smooth Saturday mornings when everything goes just right – in the end, we all usually find something (like the lost cleat!) to help us learn, grow, and be better teammates, better friends, better family members, and better volunteers. When we serve others we will always find full hearts, enduring friendships, and lasting memories.
–Dorree Jane Smith, mother of Dawson, Graham, and Wes Smith
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