Okay, look. Once in a while, we all get…a little soft. Soft in the middle, soft in the pants or soft in…the heart. This isn’t your usual First Loser pull-my-finger and tug-my-womprat blog post, this one’s for my bud Speedy Weezy. He’s my skating hero.
We started the new year with a new competitive sport. If you’re a parent, you know that with a seven year old, that’s not too hard to do. With year-round opportunities to play soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, cycling, football, lacrosse, curling, swimming, phart boxing and Pokemon, I was pleasantly surprised when Speedy Weezy said he wanted to do competitive short track. Not wanting him to specialize with anything at such an early age, even my beloved inline speed skating, for fear of causing burnout, chronic repetitive motion injuries and a host of other reasons, Horseypants and I actively encourage him to try as many different sports as we can find. That he keeps coming back to skating on his own makes me happy. Inline and now ice, the kid obviously enjoys it. And in my mind, while they’re essentially the same sport, as many of you know, ice and inline are such completely different disciplines that I really do consider them separate, but mutually supportive, sports. (That’s my “avoiding specialization” loophole for the more astute observers amongst you.)
Having spent Christmas vacation getting our ice legs under us in preparation for the Mile High Open on January 2nd, we went into it with no expectations other than to just have a good time. This is actually just like we approached our first trip to Wichita last year for him to compete on inlines in the Team United Inline Speedskating Classic, so in retrospect I’m not surprised by his performance on ice. He did really well. Better than what we could have prepared him for. He just got out there and skated his heart out. He’s a natural.
It’s a father’s pride that starts to step on my journalistic objectivity here. I even have to put my inline coach role to the side on this one, because a couple of our really talented and hard working skaters were competing too. All great kids, but now I’m speaking as Freezy Weezy’s Dad, and here’s the unvarnished truth…I wanted Freezy Weezy to WIN at this. Not just win, but CRUSH IT. Beat everyone, friends and strangers alike. And I say strangers because I don’t believe in foes in all of this.
But back to my cleansing…deep breath…when it comes to my boy I wanted to see him win everything at this meet and for once I want to drop the pretense of political correctness that says I need to tell EVERY kid who skates how great they are. Just once, I want to look MY kid in the eye and say, “Damn Dude, you’re the best!” I want to do it and not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. Just like every other parent. There, it’s been done. As a coach, I’ve just committed a carnal sin. So that’s why I’d never in a million years say such a thing when wearing my coaches hat. But I’m not now and it is what it is. I know at this point I’ve pissed a few people off. So it goes…
Freezy Weezy did great for his first meet. Really. Not a “fish tale” here. He was out there skating against quite a mixed group and qualified for every final in every distance. He came in First Loser in many of the races behind one of the Brothers Speed.
It’s great to see him competing with his friends and have it be a healthy competition. Freezy and the Brothers Speed have a great friendly rivalry that pushes the three of them to really try and do their best. Freezy almost won a race straight up, but slipped in the turn. It was a final, so at least he’d gotten to skate the full set.
The organizers of this event, Colorado Gold, did an awesome job from soup to nuts. In the end, Freezy took home a First Place ribbon for his age group and a really sweet Hersey’s bar. All of the participants got something, and in my heart I know that was a good thing. And all of the kids and skaters who went to this meet did great. Really, they all skated well, had a great time and fell deeper in love with the sport. All great outcomes, and truly what I want for all of them. But…
…you know, there are times when I think we’ve lost something as a culture when we can no longer sing We Are The Champions without worrying about losing friends, hurting feelings or trying to make everyone feel good about themselves. Does that make me a schmuck? I think not. It makes me a sports parent, and human. It’s all about having fun…yes. But winning is a lot more fun than losing or just doing your best – WE ALL KNOW IT! For me, I’ll take First Loser and truly be good with it. But for my kid, it’s nothing less than world domination and gold on a rope. I’m very proud of him. He’s working hard, he’s got talent, and he’s applying himself. It’s hard when you’re seven. Hard to control the urge to goof off, hard not to be distracted. But he’s doing his best and he’s doing great. Sometimes he needs help, and that’s why Horseypants and I are here. He’s fighting against natural and powerful forces to become better at something that’s really difficult to master. He’s well on his way and there’s nothing anyone can take from him. He’s got the world ahead of him, and nothing but good times in the rear-view mirror. At least for now. I hope he can keep it that way, but at the end of the day it will be up to him. I’ll support him through it all, by being honest and being there. He’s my hero, and I’ll love him forever no matter what.