Last night we went to the yearly Awards Banquet for Asher’s swim team. (Well, due to covid, this was the first one in a few years.)
It was held in an auditorium at a local middle school and the whole thing was just really, really nice.
The Board members presented, as well as the coaches. The head coach gave a very emotional speech about what this team and these swimmers mean to him. He talked about how covid has changed youth sports, and how grateful he is that the “swim community” at our team all rallied together to keep the team moving forward, despite the many challenges.
As he spoke about the graduating seniors, the emotion in the room was so raw! He was choked up and could barely get the words out. He called them all up on the stage and shared stories about what amazing young people and leaders they have become. He described their growth over the years, from 7 year old, brand new swimmers to 17 year olds, qualifying for State championships and beyond.
But most of all, he praised their hard work and grit and dedication. He shared about the deep, deep friendships and relationships they’ve formed, what they’ve learned from each other and from this experience, participating in club swimming for all these years.
The coaches also went through each practice group (including the younger kids) and presented Most Improved and Coaches Spirit Awards to kids in each group. They talked about what these newer, younger swimmers have already accomplished and how much they’ve grown and matured in even a short time. Seeing the little tiny kids, the future of the team, called up on the stage was so cute.
The whole thing was just really cool! It made me wish that I had a video recording of it all to play for anyone that argues that youth sports are a “waste of time”, or thinks we’re crazy for dedicating so much time and money to these activities. It’s about so much more than “just the sport”. It doesn’t matter if the kid isn’t going to play (or swim) professionally one day.
These life lessons….they’re irreplaceable! These experiences- the relationships, pushing yourself, being coached, giving your all when it’s hard, working as a team, constantly learning new skills, overcoming disappointments, being part of a community….these kids will take them with them for the rest of their lives.
I left there feeling an overwhelming sense of GRATITUDE that Asher is involved with this sport and this team.
And seeing those seniors up on the stage, seeing the “end point” for many of them….wow. It was just emotional. (Some are continuing on to swim in college!! But not all.) Hearing those big 17-18 year old boys all hoot and holler and yell for each other as they got called up for awards…seeing all the senior swim parents, who have sat in the bleachers together for years and years, now gathering for maybe the last time….it just put so many things into perspective for me. It made me really just want to soak it all up in these years I have left with my own kids at home, in their activities.
*Also, as a side note…I won an award, too!! Lol!! I was granted the “Volunteer of the Year” award for all my work as Volunteer Coordinator for our home swim meets. Had to go up on the stage in front of everyone to receive my plaque. 🙂 They gave me a really nice card and a gift card, as well. Awwww…..they certainly didn’t have to do that, but it is nice to be appreciated.
I am grateful for everything listed above! I’m also grateful that Asher was able to listen in on all the reflections about the seniors…I think it really broadened his perspective, too, about what it means to be a “leader by example”, and also what’s waiting for him down the road on his swim journey.