Being a girl is hard. Being a teen age girl is harder. Those years can be both amazing and trying especially when it comes to friendships or trying to fit in. That is why I try to encourage Mia to include people that might not belong to her group or team. To make friendships and build relationships that reach beyond her circle. For my act of loving the other day I modeled and encouraged inclusion at swim camp. For Mia, Virginia Tech is every bit home for her. She loves the campus, the swimmers, her swim team, her coaches and Coach Ned. She always leaves camp excited about swimming and encouraged. That is why she says she will be going to camp there until she is 18. Mia is fiercely loyal and committed.
When we arrived at swim camp I saw a mom and daughter I know from another team standing alone. Mia was smack in the middle of her group of girls not caring a bit where I was or if I was even there so I went up to the mother to say hello. I had never seen her at this camp before and I noticed that none of her other teammates were there. I try to get to know some of the parents of the girls Mia swims against . I follow and celebrate the other girls’ successes. Of course I want Mia to swim well but we also get excited when our swim friends swim well too! Becoming friendly with the parents of girls that Mia races on a regular basis breaks down some of the walls that get built by competition.
I approached the mother and daughter and said my hellos. They told me they were supposed to be at camp with team mates but they backed out. They asked me about Mia and I took the swimmer over to Mia and her friends. They all said hello and then I said to the group,
Emily doesn’t have any team mates here and this is her first time at this camp. Why don’t you guys include her with your group and show her the ropes. Make her feel like a Hokie for the week.
The girls all said ok and I walked away. I don’t know if it worked but I wanted to encourage the girls to include others to their circle.
There have been many races where Emily swam in Mia’s heat and even in the lane right next to her. They have often out touched eachother. I want the competitiveness to be there, the eagerness to touch the wall first, but I also want there to be good sportsmanship and happiness in seeing others achieve their goals. That is why I encourage Mia to talk to and become friends with some of the girls she races from other teams, that is why I go out of my way to talk to moms from other teams and compliment their kids swimming successes. Sure I want Mia to succeed but I want other girls to also! I want to encourage a world where they straighten each other’s crowns not knock them off. Or in the case of swimming straighten their swim camps not yank at their feet!