This year, all three of our children attend school and are involved in activities outside the classroom. Christopher takes swimming lessons, Lucia takes piano and swimming lessons and participates on an all-star prep cheerleading team, and Maria takes piano and saxophone lessons and plays on the 7th/8th grade modified field hockey team for Liverpool Central School district.
Team sports is a new thing for me as I did not play any sports while growing up besides a short stint with summer volleyball camp in 9th grade. So, this is all new – making sure she has the right equipment for the sport and getting her picked up from games, as well as attending as many as I can. Luckily, though I never played field hockey besides in gym class, it’s relatively easy to figure out the rules. Sometimes we get a bit confused on all those whistles but for the most part, as Coach Carla Hacker told us, “it’s soccer with sticks!”
Benefits of Team Sports in Middle School
- Physical Fitness: Team sports are incredibly important to a young girls’ development. Physically, they’re growing like crazy during the middle school years and staying active is helpful for their growth.
- Mental Health: They meet and bond with other girls like them, giving them a ready-made social network. It’s hard enough entering 7th grade in our district, which brings together three large elementary schools of children who have never met before. Having a safe place where a girl knows she has friends is critical.
- Time Management: Middle school is a big leap from elementary school in terms of classes and homework. With so much to keep track of and new ways of learning, including practice and games is complicated, but it’s a great way to quickly learn time management. Girls have to maintain solid grades while playing and are encouraged to do homework in between school and sports.
- Family Bonding: We try to go to the games as a family. Siblings need to see that the family supports each other in whatever activity they are doing. It’s a great way to spend time together, too, during what can be hectic weeks. Even extended family can choose to attend the just more than an hour long games.
- Marketability: When it comes time for students to apply to college, having a team sport on their resume helps. It shows they are well-rounded, can function on a team and care about their well-being.
While it’s been busy and stressful at times, I’m actually sad the short two-month field hockey season draws to a close next week. While Maria will continue to play indoor once a week to keep her skills fresh, it won’t be quite the same. I am hopeful she will rejoin the team in 8th grade, continuing her momentum and further developing all the skills that team sports allow one to develop. The family and I will be watching!
Wine Selection: This week, one of the games was rough. It was played in 42-degree weather with driving rain, hail and wind joining the party. One of the players’ moms took a gorgeous shot of a rainbow over the field that evening but that was about the prettiest thing on the field. Those poor girls were frozen! They only played two periods instead of the three to four usual. As for the parents? We were huddled up against the shed, protected from wind, covered with blankets and wearing hats and gloves. We all really needed a hot toddy! But, instead I enjoyed a Chardonnay, Bread and Butter, from California, that evening. The classic full-bodied white grape somehow warmed my soul and was a tasty ending to a long day. Next time, maybe I’ll sneak a “water” bottle on to the sidelines with a bit of vino to keep me warm while watching the sticks fly!