Two posts in one week!?! Crazy, I know, but I had to share this.
We had a group of youth athletes from our Pre-Elite team relay a local adult race a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I have had a LOT of feedback from people (other adult athletes and spectators) on this race, our team, and our athletes. I frequently heard how cute the kids were... this is definitely true, and being that our kids were 7-11 year olds in a sea of adults, cute was the initial response. I mean, just look at them!
I also heard about how they were "like little pros". They have all trained and raced with us, and know how to setup, get warmed up, stay relaxed, and race to the best of their ability. We work on all of the little pieces, so they know what to do, what to expect, and thankfully, how to roll with the punches and handle changes and the unexpected (yes, we practice having to deal with bad situations). On this day, the bike portion got cancelled and our two cyclists had to regroup and race the race differently. We took a few minutes, worked with the race director and pulled together a new plan, got everyone remarked, setup, and ready to race (thanks to the race director, Tina at iTri and some awesome parents). The kids handled the changes AMAZINGLY!
I heard how they looked like they were having so much fun. Most of them were laughing and having fun before and after the race. They knew how to go out and warm themselves up, and had a little fun with it and each other. They had smiles plastered across their faces as they passed adults on the run, and smiles as they bolted through the finish line.
I got to watch the team spirit and true nature of these athletes shine through. They shouted encouragement when they saw each other, they pushed each other to go faster and harder, and they let each other know when they were doing a great job. Triathlon is an individual sport, but our team is definitely more like a family.
After the race, people came up and congratulated them on a great race, they hung out and played together, and checked the results. They are kids and as soon as the race is over, they kick back and act like kids again (flipping water bottles and searching for their fidget spinners). They all made the podium, they all raced hard, they all had fun. They performed really well! That part is just a bonus though. This race was for experience and team bonding, so awards were a happy "extra" at the end of the day.
My favorite thing I heard was how respectful and polite the kids were. I heard how they had great sportsmanship, and encouraged other athletes on the course. How they had conversations with adults who asked them about the team and their racing. They knew how to conduct themselves and did so in an amazing way. THAT is what I love most about coaching these kids! Yes, seeing them do well and reach their goals is exciting, but it's about MORE. When I see them encourage each other, have manners, good sportsmanship, jump into leadership roles, exhibit work ethic, work towards goals, help others, and HAVE FUN doing it... that is when I am a really happy coach. I surely can't try to take credit for that. We've got some really great families with parents who started instilling those traits early on. It is important for me that our athletes learn to or continue to exhibit those traits in sport. Its very easy to lose sight of that when being competitive for many athletes. These kids will all be teenagers soon, and I can see a lot of them being team captains and junior coaches in the near future. Several would love to be college and pro athletes. These traits and skills will hopefully help them reach their athletic goals, as well as their personal goals in the future.
To everyone who took the time to compliment them on these things, thank you. You always hope that practice carries over into "gametime", and letting us know that it did was incredibly rewarding. Kudos to the athletes and parents that were at Jeff & Brede's. This is far from the first time I have had our team complimented on our athletes' character and I hope that we continue to have so many great things being said about these kids!