Military Spouse Magazine

OCT 2018

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When Army kid Ariel Okorie, showed promise in the heptathlon, her parents became shining examples of dedicated parent-coaches. The family couldn't find, or afford, the training she needed, so mom and dad stepped in for six of the seven events. They spent hours watching videos, researching, taking classes and listening to coaches. They put 98,000 miles on their car in two years, getting her to meets across the country until she finished first in the nation in the heptathlon at the USATF Junior National Champi- onships. Okorie was awarded a college scholarship and earned a silver medal at the Pan American Games. "She has a work ethic second to none," said mom, Selina Huggard. "She has grit; she's a multi-tasker, goal-setter, and deals with change more easily." Orders send military families into research mode finding programs, camps, tryout dates, and rules. Some teams are not allowed to add new players if they come from a competing school or if they arrive too late in the season. Athletes pack gear with them instead of in household goods so they don't miss anything during a move. "After several tryouts, we realized that teams are mostly set before tryouts with only a few spots held for new kids," said hockey mom, Renee Schuldt. She started early with calling Above all, perspective reigns with youth sports. According to the NCAA, between 2.9 to 24.5 percent of high school athletes will go on to play in college, de- pending on the sport. "Everyone imagines a big Division I scholarship," said Muffy Patterson, Army wife and former college athlete recruiter. "They might actually get more money from a smaller school and have a better experience." She encourages parents to be realistic, not pressure their children, and teach them to rebound from disappointments. However, it is good to know that military life doesn't have to dash a determined military kid's big dreams. H coaches, having his cur- rent coach talk to potential coaches, and sending videos. The Schuldts flew to new duty locations to take part in tryouts, clinics, even one-on-one assessments before they moved there. "You're starting at Z and having to work your way back up to A," Barnwell said about her dancing daughter Marissa, who was placed on an intermediate team when they moved because it was her first year in that program. "Just because you were a star doesn't mean you will be. A lot of times it's just luck and timing. Military kids have to constantly adapt. It may not always be fair, but you have to roll with the punches." Parental involvement breaks many barriers. "I volunteered to help his teams with snacks, score keeping, rides…what- ever so that the coaches would know I was willing to be involved," said Judy Beardsley, whose son Josh played college baseball. Also, hosting a team party can help kids get to know each other. Photo by Selina Huggard Photo by Selina Huggard OCTOBER 2018 / MILITARYSPOUSE.COM 31

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