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Fostering a Healthy Winning Attitude

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In her recent blog, Shelly Prall asks how to help her eleven-year-old son, a wrestler, keep the possibility of winning another state championship in perspective. I believe, along with John Dee, that if a child is naturally competitive, as it sounded from Shelly's blog, then that spirit should be fostered! Humans are naturally competitive and there is nothing wrong with wanting to win a second state championship. However, the long-term goal in our sons' lives was always to improve enough to make the team at the next level. That, in itself, would mean Shelly's son would be able to challenge athletes with higher abilities. There will never be a failure that doesn't teach, but jumping back in the game shows a mental strength that will allow him to move upward and perhaps compete for a championship the following year, if not attained this year.

Our two sons played for the Red Sox in the minor leagues, from '92-'99. I chronicle the journey in my recently-published book, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Our younger son, Todd, rose all the way up to the top of the minors (AAA), one level below the majors. When he went into batting slumps, it was mental strength and perseverance for hours in the batting cage that got him out of it.

His older brother was released going into his third season. The disappointment was intense for both of them when they could no longer play the game THEY LOVED. Expectations had been raised with each level attained, and it was, after all, their profession. However, because their goal had always been to attain one level above where they were (and they understood the road to the majors was long, arduous, and the odds were against them), and because they were MULTI-DIMENSIONAL kids, they moved on with their lives. They had college degrees when they played in the pros, and were able to begin focusing on new goals one step at a time in new careers, when pro ball was over. Just this spring I asked Todd if he would sign a pro contract again, knowing what he knows now about the life of the minor leaguer. Without hesitating, he replied, "In a minute! It's one of the things I am proudest of." Shelly's son will say that someday of his accomplishments in wrestling, with or without another state championship!