Raising an Olympian: What parents can learn from JR Celski

<p = Z x C5 x E

Z = JR started skating as a family "group activity" when he was 3. He started competing at four years old. JR discovered his passion and natural talent in early childhood.

Parents: Get started doing fun doing all kinds of family "group activities" together. Expose your 3 and 4 year old to as wide a variety of interests as you can!

C5 = "We gotta make this work". To train, JR had to move across the country at 14 years old. It was difficult. 5 months before the Olympic Games, JR sliced his leg during a competition. It not only could have ended his career, but could have ended his life. The challenge made him realize who he was a human being. He fought his way back because he believes that the point of being an Olympian is jumping through obstacles. The key and the lock is "believing in myself enough, I can make it happen".

Parents: Accept that challenges are a normal part of life. Demonstrate to your children how to face adversity and work through whatever comes with a positive outlook. Find ways to "make it work" no matter what the situation. Build strong character and self-assured child.

E = His family believed in him. "He believed so much in himself, I believed in him too". "I never doubted myself. My mom is my backbone."

Parents: Adopt an attitude of, "I know you can…" with your children. Support effort and ethic within their control, not the prize or outcome that is not. Believe they can take one more step, go a little higher, do a little better. Expect them to be 1% better today than they were yesterday. Let them know you believe they can reach their potential.

Imagine a world where each of our children maximized their individual potentials and gave it as their gift to the rest of the world. Build your champion.


What Parents Can Learn: Richard Sherman”s NFC Showoff

ImageOne game. One brilliant play.  One moment of athletic glory.  One player.  One question.  One answer.  One iceberg that sunk a Seahawk.

If you missed the final seconds of the NFC playoff game, you missed a lot.  After a fantastic contest between 49’s and the Seahawks, the final Superbowl contender would be determined and that decision would come down to the final play of the game.  The 49’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, threw a pass to their best receiver, Michael Crabtree.  In a feat of pure athletic precision, Richard Sherman immaculately intervened, tipping the ball, ending the 49’s last chance of possession and scoring a winning touchdown.  Moments of glory and defeat caused united moans and cheers across a nation of living rooms.  It was fabulous athletic drama and everything we love about competition.

But then the cameras remained on Richard Sherman.  One player, who put together his natural talent and a well-rehersed, routine play at the most crucial moment of an extraordinary event, had the spotlight on him.  

Instead of having a spotlight shine on his incredible professional skill, the spotlight revealed what was beneath his surface.

Instead of a celebration of team or even his individual conquest, Sherman directed a universal choking sign gesture towards Kaepernick and the 49er players, then ran to Michael Crabtree to mockingly shake his hand as if to say, “Thank you very much for giving me the great opportunity to use your lack of talent for my personal glorification”.  It could be argued that Sherman was reacting in the heat of the moment, but enough time drfted allowing the adrenaline to subside before the interview that magnified what had already been witnessed.  “Well, I’m the best corner in the game.  When you try me with a receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you are going to get. Don’t you even talk about me.”  then in a much later defense of his post play self-adulation, “I’m a competitor.  I don’t like people saying negative things about me and running their mouth, but I’m the best in the league.”  

Sherman didn’t back down later either. He apologized to Andrews, then proceeded to call Crabtree “mediocre,” emphasizing each syllable.  “I was making sure everybody knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver,” Sherman said. “And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver that’s what happens.”

 What he didn’t want to go unnoticed, he succeeded in overshadowing.  The media, the social media are not talking about his incredibly athletic and talented play.  Instead he brought on a barage of people saying negative things about him because of how he was running HIS mouth.

It is sad.  What could have been glorious has been so tarnished.  A would-be hero has become a villain.  Maybe Richard Sherman didn’t have anyone warn him about icebergs.  Maybe he didn’t heed the warnings.

What can parents learn from Richard Sherman?  

We can’t ever overestimate the strength of our child’s skill and underestimate the power of what’s below the surface in defining who they are and the level of succeess they’ll achieve.

Ten percent of an iceberg is seen.  90% of it is under the surface.  What’s below the surface both supports what’s seen above and is most dangerous in sinking a ship.   Our children’s natural talent and skill, the 10%, is what everyone first sees, but it’s the 90% parents need to ensure is guided well.  A child’s character will define them long after their athletic pursuits are over.  Parents, let the coach develop your child’s physical core strength while you coach their character core strength that will support all their success.

Coach your child to be self-centered, not self-aggrandizing: 

  • “Your performance will speak for you.  Speak humbly, perform arrogantly.”  Keep the priority on their own performance, how it was a result of the training they’re investing, the natural God-given-can’t-take-credit-for talent they have, and the people around them that they couldn’t have achieved anything without, and the bigger-than-them team goals.  Their actions should flow from the inside, their center, out.
  • “Do what’s right no matter what is happening around you.”  Remind your child that even in the heat of battle, they must make the wise choice to do and say what’s respectful and honoring of the contest and the competitors.  Don’t allow smack, trash-talking.  “You do not climb higher by puliing down others.”

Parents.  Remember.  Your child will reflect your character.  Demonstrate good judgement, wise choices, common sense as you stay centered on your performance as your child’s model.


















Our house, among other things, is an Olympic house.  From the opening ceremonies, to the extinguishing of the flame, our television is on and we join the world in being a part of the Olympic Movement.  We’ve always gravitated to the Olympic spirit that calls on the youth of the world to come together, experience the variety of games and entertaining challenges, the intensity of competition, the effort, the struggle, the refusal to give up, the exhileration of pushing past all prior personal or team boundaries and become the best each competitor can become.  Call us corny, but we 


Crabs. I never thought that I’d find crabs in the sports world.

They can be found on the court, field and pool, but even more so in the bleachers, stands, and mezzanine. There are those individuals who have the crab mentality and the higher one athlete achieves high-performance, surrounding crabs reveal themselves.

“If I can’t achieve it, have it, experience it, get it, neither should you” captures the crab mentality. Crabs-in-a-bucket is a metaphor for what happens within a pot of crabs. One crab could easily escape from a basket or pot, climbing to freedom, but when more are put together, one will grab another in a continuously futile king-of-the-hill battle ensuring the collective demise of all. When athletes and parents exhibit it, they’ll pull down, negate or diminish the importance of another teammate or other athlete who achieves success beyond another out of jealousy or competitive feelings. If their resentment boils, they can scrap more intensely by discrediting and dismantling more than just a performance but aim to damage the person and can stoop to pretty low means depending on the level of desperation. Tanya Harding….enough said. They can seek to damage someone physically, emotionally or socially. [1]

The crab mentality is broadly associated with short-sighted, non-constructive thinking rather than unified, long-term constructive mentality. Dr. Marshall Mintz, a consultant of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and listed on the US Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry, stated that those who don’t achieve the level of success they want and blame others show a lack of emotional maturity to focus on themselves and take responsibility for their level of performance. They lack the ability to acknowledge the true reasons they are not achieving the success they want and find excuses that place the cause on others. “They get all the attention of the coaches. If the coach would pay more attention to me/my child, they’d be just as good”.

I am being reminded, once again, that crabs are nasty and hurtful after receiving an off-handed negative comment from a parent after a set of spectacular wins by my daughter at a highly competitive meet this past weekend. Apparently it didn’t stop there and it is suspect that the same parent has stirred up trouble that could seriously impact the life of her coach. In talking with parents of high-performance athletes on other teams, I’ve found the plague of crabs has affected them as well. In one case, false accusations led to catastrophic personal and team results. In the other, reputations are on the line because of unfounded gossip. I find it baffling that there are those, mostly parents, who are so wrapped up in the success of their children, that they fixate on the performances of others and live and breathe the crab mentality. I wonder constantly what gain their destructive words and actions provide for them? How will undermining the achievements and lives of others make their child better, faster, stronger? Will tearing another down, raise them up?

What if each of us could focus on our own lives, our own children?
What if we acknowledged our individual strengths and maximized them?
What if we supported and celebrated every other athlete and parent for doing the best they can with what they have and believe in their potential?

Doesn’t a rising tide raise all ships?

If you are the parent of a high-performance athlete:
• know that the crabs will be there and demonstrate the crab mentality. Know that not everyone will be thrilled with the success of your child.
• Prepare yourself and your children for how to maturely handle those who will say and do mean things. Don’t stoop to the same level, but be an emotional champion in how you respond.

If you are a crab:
• Understand the futility in being negative and mean-spirited when you say detrimental things, gossip, and defame others. The derogatory comments you make and possibly the harmful actions you take will not make your child any better as an athlete or a human being. In fact, it will be their demise and yours as well.
• Understand your off-handed comments and negative actions can have serious repercussions. If you damage someone else’s life, are you ready to take responsibility for your actions? Is the success of your child that important to you that you’re willing to harm someone else in an attempt to climb to the top of the heap?
• If you are a parent, find your personal strengths and do something to maximize them. Create your own goals and pursue them to take the pressure off your own child to succeed to meet your personal needs.
• Focus on helping your child to become the best they can be instead of sizing them up against the successes and failures of others.
• Be realistic and take responsibility for your child’s level of achievement acknowledging the true reasons why your child may/may not be accomplishing what they’d/you’d hoped in that particular sport. Make choices for what’s best for your child. Maybe a coach is legitimately not meeting your child’s needs. Maybe your child’s strengths would be better applied in another sport. Instead a blaming, simply choose to find a better situation. This is far more productive and beneficial for helping your child reach their maximum potential.
• Often, your behavior will come back to bite you as more and more see and hear your negative, non-productive thoughts and actions. Your reputation and social standing will be the one that suffers and so will that of your child.

Share your experience with crabs below.

^ http://emanila.com/philippines/2010/01/19/crab-mentality-is-universal/

Sweet Spot

As the ball rolls off the fingers; too early and it’s lost in the backstop, held too long and it’s in the dirt, if released at just the right point, the laces sing, and it’s a strike. The runner on first lunges; too quickly or with hesitation and they’ve caused an out, if timed well, he’ll slide and advance a base. The batter swings and connects; not too high or low, not too soon or too late, it finds the sweet spot, and it’s hit out of the park. Finding the sweet spot makes the difference.

Our kids have a sweet spot. Finding it maximizes their potential and their life is hit out of the park.

Has your child found their sweet spot?

Raising a Champion

Mohammad, MaryLou, Michael, Billy Jean, Lance, Shawn, Lindsey, Venus, Troy, Tiger, Mia. Champions.

cham·pi·on (chmp-n)
1. One that wins first place or first prize in a competition.
2. One that is clearly superior or has the attributes of a winner

When you watch your child on the field, court or pool, it’s easy to drift into sparkling dreams of district all-star, state championship MVP trophies, college scholarships, bowl rings, gold medals, pro signing bonus’, sponsor contracts and their first name having instant recognition. We hope, want, maybe, even expect our children to stand out and be recognized above others. We want to raise a champion; those who win first place or the highest prize in a competition.

We may go into overdrive planning how to provide our kid with the best coaching and training facilities and exert tremendous emotional energy towards “motivating” them to become a champion. The premise is that if our kid works hard enough, they could get a spot on the travel team and one day get that scholarship or be the next multi-million dollar player. Is that true? If a child practices early enough, hard enough, wants it bad enough, will they be the one who wins first place or the highest prize in a competition?

What if we shifted the goal to the second definition of champion: one that is clearly superior or has the attributes of a winner? What if we defined a champion as one who takes their physical, mental, emotional strengths and makes them as superior as possible, becoming a winner by challenging personal abilities and maximizing their individual potential to as high a level as they can attain?

If we define the goal for our children as helping them become all they are designed to become and making the absolute most of the abilities they have, then couldn’t we all raise a champion?

What are your child’s greatest strengths and how are you maximizing them?

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. –Anna Quindlen (not an athlete, but an American author and journalist)

Goal Tending

A generation ago, most of us played outside, all-day, everyday with friends. We played stickball, four square, capture the flag, run the bases or swam in the pond. We grew up and the world of organized sports opened up in middle school where we played a fall, winter and spring sport all the way through high school. There wasn’t much talk of playing a sport in college. Folk tales arose about athletes who magically plucked from their small towns and turned into superstars. Olympians were legendary figures straight from Olympus. They had to be.

These days, parents are looking for organized sports for their 3 and 4-year-old protégés and screaming from the sidelines in hopes that their offspring will show signs of going pro by the time their 5½. Kids are specializing by second grade and playing one sport year round so they have a shot at securing a D1 scholarship. Parents are investing gobs of money in private lessons and seeking training earlier and earlier, happy to dream about the future and boast about their phenomes. We’re possessed with providing and pushing our kids to become the best and achieve the highest. How’s this working for our kids?

Sports have goals. Clear goals.

So, what’s the goal?

Why does your child take part in sports and why do you do what you do as a sportsparent?

Take a knee.

What if both parents took a deep breath, had a Gatorade, and talked on the bench for a few minutes to figure out what your kids are doing and why? (for real…no BS, but why are your kids involved in sports?) Knowing the goal helps everyone know why they’re playing the game and what the game plan . It will help in decision-making and in keeping the correct perspective and role as a parent.

Some things to define:

• What’s the point of your child being an athlete as they grow up?
• What are your child’s goals? What are your goals for them? Do you both agree on those goals?
• In general, what do you hope for your kids’ futures? Define their future success.
• To what degree does being an athlete have an impact on your child’s future success?

All three of my kids are high-performance athletes. It’s always been their choice and they have clear, ambitious goals that we, as parents, have supported and agreed to partner to achieve them. Over the years, the reasons for participating in sports has evolved and what we do, how we handle practices, schedules, our meals, decisions on what teams/coaches and the level of training all has shifted accordingly. I am clear on “our” goals to keep our game plan smart, view of wins and losses appropriate, and our attitude and investment in alignment.

What are your child’s goal? What are yours?