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Friday, October 25, 2013

Which Type of Sports Parent Are You?

WHICH TYPE OF “SPORTS PARENT” ARE YOU? - As a longtime Family Law Attorney, I have been trained to understand the different types of Parenting: Good, Bad, and Indifferent. JK, of course, they’re called Authoritarian, Permissive, and Authoritative. In my many years as Team Mom for the Newburgh Rowing Club, and my short time as a Football Mom, I have found there are two types of sports parents: Crew Parents, and Everyone Else.

Let me explain how confusing it is for a Crew Mom to show up at a Football Stadium. First of all, the stadium is already built and there are people whose job it is to maintain the stadium and field. Not so with the Boathouse. Parents, rowers, and volunteers all came together and built the 6,000 square foot, two story Newburgh Rowing Club Boathouse. It took 12 years to clear all the garbage down there and put in the docks. The football coaches are very patient with me: “Thanks, Mrs. Lo, but no, the parents don’t need to chalk to the field or clean the bathrooms.”

At the Newburgh Rowing Club, Big Coach doesn’t need 100% parent involvement, he needs 200% involvement. I have always been in charge of fundraising, writing the press releases, the grants, and the Student Ambassador Program. I probably spend 20 – plus hours a week on the Newburgh Rowing Club, including water time and meets, on average. And of course, we go all year long. During practice, I typically either go in the motorboat with Big Coach to talk about all the things we need to do, or keep office hours and answer questions, take in money, sell stuff, or run a Parent Meeting so we can all stay on the same page. We have the world’s best parents at the Newburgh Rowing Club, everyone is super involved. Our kids love the sport and the place would not exist without every parent putting their heart and soul into it. We are invested.

When the Team Mom Mobile rolls up to the Boathouse, little Student Ambassadors run over the hug me and I get a high five from all the rowers. I hear my name everywhere I go from the kids, “Mrs. Lo, Mrs. Lo can I …. Could you … do you know how to … where is the …” and I couldn’t be happier.

I will be honest, I initially did feel a bit disenfranchised when I got to the Football field. Yes, I have gone around and picked up the garbage. Even at away meets. (“What the heck are you doing pickup up garbage for Cornwall?). Since that’s not really needed, I do the other thing I do best: take pictures.

Big Coach is more than happy to have my help on everything, and don’t think I haven’t weighed in on those boat lineups (“You’ve got to take Soup and Kelvin out of that sweep boat and put them in the Men’s Open 4x, they can scull and they’ve got a better chance of medaling in an Open.” Yes, they got Silver). And when we split the team recently to go to two meets, I accompanied Little Michael and some NRC rowers down to Rockland while the rest of the team went to Hartford. I took a bunch of rowers and met two of our newly minted NRC coaches there. The problem is, the older coaches want to talk to someone their age. They kept calling me Coach and I kept saying I’m the Team Mom, so they just called me “Mom.”

“Listen, Mom, we are so sorry but we are going to have to scratch your 4+, the water is too rough, we’ve got boats sinking all over. Have a good trip back.” I knew exactly what Big Coach would do and just channeled my “Inner Big Coach.” Are you canceling the meet, I asked? “No, Mom, we’re just scratching the 4’s, we’re only sending out 8’s.” There was no way in heck we had missed Hartford, gotten up at 4 in the morning, and gotten down here at 6 am, with fully packed coolers, and stood around in the pouring rain all morning so that we could turn around and go home. Then let me put together a Mixed 8, I said. I took stock of who was there and who could row, including myself, and said, “Actually, let’s make it a Mixed Open 8+.”

“OK, Mom, you won’t be in medal contention but you can row your race and take your pictures.” And that was good enough. We scrambled and put together an 8. “Good News, Mom, we’re sending out the 4’s!” We scrambled again. Before each boy got in, I said to each of them, including my 9 year old son, you remember your training, right? “Right, Mrs. Lo”. Listen, boys, 6 boats sank, you have a 50/50 chance that you will sink. You don’t have to do this. Do you understand what I'm saying? “We know what to do if we sink, we’re fine, it’s part of the sport, we just want to row.”

The Head Coach of North Rockland said it was the worst he has ever seen the Hudson River. We, the parents and coaches, ran alongside the 4+ on shore for as long as we could. When the boat went out of sight, we parents all bowed our heads and prayed. I won’t lie, I was more scared than I have ever been at a crew meet. Partly because Big Coach wasn’t there, this Meet was on me. There were 3 boats left in our race. Then, one of the teams pulled their boat, because they were worried about sinking, and there were two boats, including us. When our boat rounded the bend, we cheered like crazy because they were alive, and rowing hard. Michael was literally floating in the bucket (where the coxswain sits is lower than where the rowers sit). They boys were rowing with power but their stroke rate was perfect, not too high not too low, they looked relaxed and relieved. They said it was because I was so calm.

We cheered and we wept when our kids crossed the finish line. We didn’t care what place they got we were so happy they were alive. Next to them, a mighty 8+ crossed the finish line, then sank. This is almost the equivalent of the Titanic sinking, 8-mans simply don’t sink. That’s how bad it was out there though.
Yes, we took Gold and we took it by a commanding several minutes. The thing with Crew is, when the team takes a medal, we all take it. Every person that came down, from the parents, to the coaches, to the rowers who helped out and were ready to hotseat an 8-man, to the Team Mom, we all felt like we took Gold. We are invested.

My son’s football team, the Goldbacks YFL D3, is 7-0 in an 8 game season. I could give you his stats, they’re good, but he wouldn’t want me to. I’ll say this, he plays both offense and defense and therefore plays the entire game. They’re going to the playoffs, maybe the SuperBowl. I am proud of him but, of course, I had nothing to do with it, other than paying and driving. Maybe he needed that: someplace where he's not known as Mrs. Lo's son.

You can take the Crew Mom out of the Boathouse but you’ll never take the Team Mom out of Mrs. Lo. And you can take my son out of the Newburgh Rowing club for football season but you can’t take the spirit of Newburgh Rowing out of him. One of the big differences about the Newburgh Rowing Club is we are more than a sports team, we are a community organization and we give back to the community more than any other sports organization I know of. Christian volunteers at Head Start through our school, Bishop Dunn. I asked him what he did with the kids, did he teach them anything, like how to throw a football. “No,” he said, “but that would be a really good project for the Goldbacks YFL.” It would, I said, it really would. The fact that he’s thinking that sports teams should be doing community service is good enough for me.

I don’t think I’ll be changing my Sport Parent style anytime soon. But then again, why would I want to? Have a great Sunday and a great 3-day weekend, everyone! Remember to count your blessings, I am sending you all Lots of Love  Mrs. Lo (Thanks to Mrs. Tompkins, Football Mom for the photo on the left, Photo on the right is the Boys 4+ at Brickyard after they brough the boat overhead)
 — with Juliana Muyot andNewburgh Rowing.