Testimonial: Sports Were My Escape

 
 

My childhood was a little different than most. When I was just two years old, my dad decided that drugs were a better path for him than my mom and me, so he left the house, and ended up dying six years later. My mom's alcoholism soon set in shortly thereafter. Being an only child, it was difficult to be surrounded by that environment. I didn't have a ton of friends in my neighborhood, and typical youth sports weren't an option due to my asthma. My saving grace through all this was my grandmother. We would spend every weekend and each summer together. 

Summer has always been my favorite time of year. It meant that we got to go to the pool.  I always had a passion for being in the water. When I was six, I begged my grandmother to sign me up for the dive team. It was love at first flip! This new sport was not only fun but unique and different.

I didn't know another diver until I was in high school. I quickly developed a strong desire to become the best of the best. I wanted to train. I wanted to constantly be on the board. I can remember at times my feet would get so raw from constantly being in the water that I'd have to practice in socks. I loved the feeling of leaping into the air and trying to attain no splash as I hit the water. My grandmother got me private lessons, signed me up for dive clubs so I could compete year-round, and she attended every single meet from when I started until my final meet before I left for college. 

Diving pushed me to my limits, both physically and mentally. I think it's one of the reasons I was able to cope with my rough childhood. I wasn't scared of much, and I learned that pain was only temporary. I learned that I had to focus on my goals, and if I failed at first, I was to learn from my past mistakes. It established a routine in my life, and it created stability, which was something I truly needed. Diving was my first job as a coach and showed my passion for helping others wanting to learn. 

I will never be able to thank my grandmother enough for supporting me through this sport and giving me a chance to help develop who I am today. 

Not everyone has a grandmother to support them the way that I did, and that’s why I think organizations like PlayOn are so important. Organized sport is critical to the mental health and social development of kids. I felt its impact and I will continue to tell my story to anyone that will listen so that they know how very vital access to these programs is for kids today.