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Teaching Life Lessons Through Sports

Olympic Mom's Barnsville Sports Squad Books Great For Beginning Readers

As a two-time Olympic track cyclist, I found that there was no better feeling than the feeling of accomplishment.  It built me up and gave me an indescribable high. 


That feeling was one of the things that drove me to dedicate ten years of my life to cycling, and to create the Barnsville Sports Squad children's book series.  The goal of the books is to encourage kids to get involved and have fun in sports, to help them make healthy lifestyle choices and give them the tools they need to be successful, not only in sports, but in every aspect of their lives.

The Three D's

I started track racing when I was nine years old.  After competing in my first national championship at age thirteen, I was hooked.  When I was fourteen I started working with my first coach.  He taught  me the true meaning of dedication, discipline and determination, what he called "the three D's."  He also stressed humility and good sportsmanship.  The fundamentals he taught me were the building blocks for my Olympic cycling career. 

The best part was that those fundamentals, along with a few others I picked up along the way, were the building blocks forsuccess in everything.  I wanted to share these with children, so, in each book in the Barnsville Sports Squad series, the main character struggles with and overcomes or masters one of the fundamentals.

Teaching life lessons

Modeling these fundamentals consistently in daily life is the best way for parents to teach them to their children.  Parents set the stage for their children's success by following through with commitments, modeling good sportsmanship at their children's competitions, not being afraid to try new things and taking their own failures in stride.  Sometimes the lesson learned from a subtle comment or a simple action is the one that sticks with a child for the rest of their life.

At the junior national cycling championships in Pennsylvania, I vividly remember watching the older kids race in the sprint competition.  A very talented, older, teenage boy got really mad when he didn't win. He threw his thousand-dollar bike, slammed down his helmet, and stormed off.  I remember my mom making a comment about his lack of sportsmanship.  His coach didn't reprimand him, an official didn't pull him aside and discuss his behavior with him, and his parents didn't take his thousand dollar bike away and make him earn the money for it himself so he'd appreciate its value.

By doing nothing they all condoned his behavior; no one took his bad sportsmanship and turned it into a lesson that would help him later in life.  In the scheme of things, his bike race, however important it seemed at the time, was just a bike race.  What he learned about dealing with failure and being a good sport would have lasted a lifetime.  More can be learned from failure than is ever learned from success. 

Shawn Sheep: Teaching Success Fundamentals

The Barnsville Sports Squad Series is the perfect tool for helping to teach kids the fundamentals of success and encourage them to make healthy life choices.  Each book in the series is fun and action packed, introduces a different Olympic sport and teaches children good sportsmanship. Each also includes a fitness fact that kids can put to use inplay and sport, such as the importance of hydration, nutrition and stretching.

Shawn Sheep The Soccer Star, the second book in the Barnsville Sports Squad series, was released in July 2008.  The story demonstrates the importance of teamwork, good sportsmanship, and choosing good role models.

Shawn Sheep is the best soccer player on his team, and he knows it.  He's been watching his hero, professional soccer player, Paul The Peacock, and has picked up some of his moves, and bad habits.  When it comes time for one of the biggest games of the season, Shawn is so busy bragging and showing off that he irks his teammates and makes some big mistakes that could cost them the game. After a chance meeting with Paul The Peacock, Shawn finds out he has a lot to learn about being a good team player and decides to set things right.

Since trading in the bike for motherhood and writing, the activities that give me that high of accomplishment have changed, but the feeling is the same.  Every time I read my stories to a group of kids, or get a letter from a dad telling me that Gracie helped convince his daughter to take the training wheels off her bike, I get to feel that high all over again.   I hope that my books give children the tools they need to succeed and inspire them to chase their dreams.

Make sure you also check out the first book in the series, Gracie Goat's Big Bike Race.

Erin Mirabella is a two-time Olympic track cyclist and mother and MomsTeam's track cycling expert.  Shawn Sheep The Soccer Star and Gracie Goat's Big Bike Race are available online at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, velogear.com, and at The Olympic TrainingCenters and select stores. For more information visit www.erinmirabella.com.


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