2021: Focus on Staying Positive
By Richard B. Dubin
What a crazy year it has been! We have seen more change and uncertainty than ever before and no one knows what the new “normal” will be when we get there.
As a parent of youth athletes, I experienced first-hand these changes. My older daughter was a high school senior on the varsity basketball team getting ready to play in sectionals. My younger daughter was in 7th grade practicing for the playoffs. Both seasons were immediately canceled due to COVID-19 and the coping began. As everything began shutting down, both girls began quarantine and started studying online. Yes, we lived through it, but the real impact of these experiences (or lack thereof) will not be realized until later.
I know this is a common conversation and thread among all families all over the world.
My older daughter experienced a modified graduation, was unable to attend her prom, and was still unsure of what was happening with college. She had planned to go to Ithaca College to play basketball, but during the summer discovered that the college was not bringing students to campus. Her hopes of going away and playing basketball was pulled out from under her. She is a very happy kid and extremely social and active. This experience, as it has for many, was incredibly challenging to say the least. Recently, she found out the even a modified schedule was not going to happen. This was another blow to her psyche. And gut-wrenching to watch as a parent.
Now, let’s talk about the greater impact that all of this has had on the community. What can we do? First, we need to look at things for what they are, talk about our feelings, and share our thoughts—both parents and kids. Then we must look for solutions and find ways to stay active and healthy to keep our mental state strong. Don’t dwell in the problem. Keep your focus on staying positive.
Communication is key. This is a real opportunity – certainly for all of us, but particularly for young athletes – to take stock and figure out what and who is important; to reevaluate our needs and wants and learn to focus and redirect our energy to reinvent our lives. THIS is the new normal: it isn’t going away soon, so let’s face the reality and accept what we cannot change and learn to live with it the best we can. This will look slightly different for each athlete and each family, but helping your athletes forge a positive path forward is key to successfully navigating these trying times.
For this issue, we have brought together leaders in the fields of exercise, nutrition, sports psychology, training, and sports medicine to educate the parents of youth athletes on how best to handle your athlete during this uniquely challenging time and moving into the future.