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Spencer Charney sailing with CNU

Spencer Charney sailing with CNU

As September rolls around each year, parents and kids all over the country are sitting down with their calendars, game schedules and practice schedules trying to figure out if they can get everyone where they need to be, and if the preschooler will be riding in the car five hours a day driving siblings back and forth to practice.

As a family, you need to have serious discussions about which sports everyone will sign up for, and if you are willing for them to play multiple sports at once. There are too many factors that will play into your decision to list here, but some may include homework, music lessons, family obligations, traffic on I-95, bedtime and your child’s personality.

In our house, we allowed our boys to play one sport at a time, and most of the time they played the same sport. Our boys are only a year apart, so every other year they were even on the same team, which made driving to practice easier, especially if my Marine husband was deployed at the time.

If you are just beginning to dip your toe into the deep waters of youth sports, you may find that your child will play a different sport each season, and that none of them will stick. Maybe they’ll turn out to be more of an individual sport enthusiast, enjoying karate, horseback riding or running, or maybe they’ll focus on music and not even play a sport later. But those years will not be wasted.

It will take sacrifice on your part (or on the part of the preschooler riding along to every practice), but allowing your children to play team sports teaches them valuable life lessons they’ll use forever, like hard work, how to lose and how to lead. I’ll never forget my son’s excitement when he realized that all those drills they were doing in peewee football had somehow shaved four minutes off his mile run in the third grade.

The perk for mom and dad: You get to WATCH your kids play all of these sports. So buy the team T-shirts, slather on the sunscreen and bring your cowbell to cheer on their teams.

Karen Charney’s sons are in college now and she still gets to cheer on her younger son who is on Christopher Newport University’s Varsity Sailing Team. Sadly, cowbells are discouraged.

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