Posted: Apr 18, 2014 9:00 AM
Carpools and practice schedules are a big part of many moms' lives — the term "soccer mom" is flung around with smiles or cringes at any gathering of school-aged kids. Moms of serious athlethes put in even more time at games and practices, and some moms wouldn't have it any other way.
Photo credit: Steve Debenport/ iStock/360/ Getty Images

Busy has its benefits

Cheryl Rosenberg's sons playing baseball

Cheryl Rosenberg is a co-producer and co-director of Listen to Your Mother: The OC, has three kids involved in different levels of competitive sports and loves being a sports mom. Carpool issues and juggling game schedules are a small price to pay for the benefits sports bring to her entire family. Cheryl says, "Competitive sports are a great way for kids to learn things they're going to use when they're in the real world — winning and losing gracefully, following directions and working as a team — while also getting exercise. My kids have made amazing friends they wouldn't have met otherwise. Most important, they have a lot of fun playing and that makes it a lot of fun watching them do what they love."

Photo credit: Cheryl Rosenberg
Courtney Vara's son Elijah with extended gymnast family
Photo credit: Courtney Vara

Find an extended family

Courtney Vara is Elijah's mom, and Elijah is a competitive gymnast. He spends five or six hours a day training, which is something many parents don't understand. Courtney talks about the way gymnastics has extended her family: "I met my best friend, Lorena, Jasmine and David's mom, through gymnastics. It is a common practice to adopt others as your own after you've been around the sport for a while. You're together so much that they understand lunchtime carpools and children having to leave school early. Jasmine and David are not my biological children; however, if asked they'll tell you I'm their 'other mother' and my son says the same about Lorena."

In addition to the relationships the Varas have built through gymnastics, Courtney sees many tangible benefits to the amount of time that Elijah spends at the gym. She sees the same attributes in Jasmine and David. Courtney says, "They're determined and motivated. They face every obstacle knowing that they can — and will — overcome it. They aren't interested in participating in events that are risky, because they know that it could negatively impact the sport that they love."

Becca Wilkinson's son Patrick playing soccer
Photo credit: Becca Wilkinson

Discover current and future benefits of elite sports

Becca Wilkinson's son Patrick has played for Sporting Kansas City’s Academy for the past three years. Sporting Kansas City is the professional MLS team in Kansas City and won the MLS Cup last year. Becca says, "It takes a dedicated family and a really good carpool to raise a competitive athlete."

She finds that the benefits of participating in elite soccer have been positive for her family — she and her husband have two other sons. "Our family has grown closer since my son started playing elite soccer. We have traveled all over the country together going to tournaments. These trips force you to be together as a family. We’ve learned you have to be flexible with schedules and activities, but know that the sacrifices we make are only going to help our son succeed."

Becca sees three distinct ways elite soccer has helped Patrick develop as a successful young man.

  • Health and self-discipline — Through his club, my son has learned the importance of eating well, working hard, making good choices and keeping fit — all things that help you play your best game. He is establishing habits and a good work ethic that will lead to a long, healthy life on and off the field.
  • Confidence — It has been fun to watch Patrick’s confidence grow in the past three years. He started playing with Sporting KC as a quiet, reserved boy. He's turned into a strong leader who can speak confidently to adults and who has no problem taking on someone twice his size in a game.
  • Opportunity — My son has had great opportunities because of playing for Sporting KC. He is seen by top club, college and national coaches, which we all hope will lead to scholarships for college. He has participated in special trainings with top teams, players and coaches, and he has even traveled abroad three times to play with international programs.

Are competitive sports right for your family?

Each of these moms loves the positive impact sports have had on the lives of their children — and on their families as a whole — but there are definitely commitments being made and priorities being determined by sports schedules and financial output. Before deciding about competitive sports, look into both costs and time commitments, and be honest with yourself about how you want to spend your family's time and money. And then get your own water bottle ready for games, because your kids are going to love hearing you cheer for them.

More about sports and kids

When to let your kids quit a sport
Girls learn empowerment through sports
Promote family bonding by playing together