Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Victory from Defeat and a Kid Grows a Bit More

Maddie reacts to being unable to finish. She was humiliated.
It has not yet ceased to amaze me that I fall apart every time that little grandgirl of mine is in competition. I have a long history of athletic competition, public speaking, acting, teaching and--in general--appearing before groups without having nerve one. I can't remember ever being nervous before being involved in any of those activities.

Teammate Erin Tudor consoles Maddie
But put a seven-year-old, vulnerable little girl desperate to please on a diving platform, ready to race and I'm a wreck.

Maddie has had a couple of embarrassing failures this swim season, mostly because seven weeks ago she couldn't swim a stroke and she was cast into it with a literal "sink or swim" attitude. She sank a few times and my heart broke to see her standing there alone in the water, her face buried in her hands, crying because she was humiliated and embarrassed.

But not now. Monday, she finished fourth in the backstroke against Roanoke Country Club and qualified for the City-County meet. It was her first earned ribbon and you never saw a happier kid when it was given to her after practice at the Hunting Hills pool Tuesday.

I don't think this could have happened without the failures, without the teammates and coaches gathering around her, encouraging her and loving her as only those engaged with a similar goal can.

The kid has grown a foot taller in seven weeks and, again, I don't think it would have happened if it had come easily. I'm pretty damn proud of my little angel.

With buddy Emma celebrating victory


  1. Of course you are proud of her, we are all proud of her and the determination of anyone who keeps on trying. Great lesson for a young girl and a grandpa.