Olympic Stories And Mother's Words


I love the Olympic games! What is it about this international competition that so captivates and inspires us? I suppose it is the respect we have for individuals who have trained and sacrificed for years for the opportunity to proudly represent their country, and perhaps - stand on the top step of the podium while their flag is raised and the anthem played. I have a few thoughts about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Many hands make light work: After his last race, the swimming medley relay, Michael Phelps, winner of more gold medals (8) than any Olympic athlete in history thanked his teammates for all they had done for him. He mentioned how hard they had worked as a team, to make their transitions as smooth as possible. In beach volleyball, two time gold medalists Misty May and Kerri Walsh were asked which one is the better player. May exclaimed, "Neither one, but when we are together we're both the best in the world!"

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. In freestyle wrestling, the U.S. didn't qualify a 60kg wrestler. They trained all summer without one. Thirty-six hours before the competition began, Bulgaria's 60kg competitor withdrew because of injury. This action opened up a space as it so happens, for an American. Mike Zadick from Iowa by way of Montana did not make the Olympic team but continued to train and went to Beijing. Zadick got the nod. His words were, "I kept training and never gave up the dream that I might make it into the Olympics."

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Henry Cejudo, gold medalist in freestyle wrestling watched his single mother work multiple jobs to try and earn a living. He moved with his brothers and sisters from place to place and never had his own room or even his own bed until he entered the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Last year his dad, who he had not seen since he was 4 years old, died of liver damage in Mexico City. His Olympic coach said of him, "He could be in prison; could be drug runner; could be this; could be that, but he's done an unbelievable job of not being a victim."

Love your neighbor. No other country in the world trains as many Olympians as the United States. The whole Jamaican, swimmers, basketball players, and you name it. What do you think would happen if you were a world-class diver from Zimbabwe and asked China if you could train for the Olympics in their country? You got it!

Perfect practice makes perfect. Men's and women's 4X100 relay teams -- 'nuff said.

How does all this pertain to education? What we speak about and the stories we tell our children become anchor points. I hope you will use some of these stories to launch a conversation with your child. How about carrying conversations with our kids about aspiring to be the best? By the way, we have someone working at our school right now who truly understands the sacrifices of an aspiring Olympian. Student teacher Travis Koppenhafer qualified for and wrestled in the Olympic trials last May. In fact, he arrived in Payson a few days late because he was checking out of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Travis, who has a master's degree in physical education, brings a wealth of cutting edge knowledge relative to dynamic strength and conditioning programs as well as lifelong health education. Welcome aboard, Travis!

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