Sharon DeVellis: Inside Scoop


Listen, Our Young Athletes Can't Do It All On Their Own

Unofficial Rules to Inspire Them

Listen, Our Young Athletes Can't Do It All On Their Own

I remember the exact date - January 6, 2013. I was sitting in a freezing cold car trying to gather up the nerve to go into my very first swimming lesson. I had signed up to race in a triathlon and the swim portion was mandatory. I had taken lessons as a kid but stopped around age 11 and while I could tread water and play around with my kids in a pool, I was definitely more of a floater than a swimmer. That first night, I couldn’t even complete one 25m lap. 

Getting out of my car and walking into the building to take that first lesson was probably one of the bravest things I've done in my adult life. But getting into the pool wasn't done on my own. I 100% couldn't have done it without the support of my husband and two sons who gave me a pep talk before I left, and my friend who texted me telling me to 'GET MY BUTT OUT OF THE CAR AND INTO THAT POOL, RIGHT NOW," that really pushed me forward. 

That's why I'm 100% behind what the Chicken Farmers of Canada are doing to support Canadian swimmers in their quest for gold. As someone who began swimming late in life, I can't imagine the amount of time and training these kids put in. And while they are the ones doing the hard work, the fact is, no athlete ever gets to that level on his or her own. For every athlete you see in the Olympics, there are literally hundreds of people who have supported them that you don't see. I bet the same is true for your kids, even when they are just playing for fun - they get support from you, coaches, volunteers, friends, and teammates. So when you see an athlete on the podium, take a moment to think about everyone who helped get them there. From parents, friends, and coaches, to sponsors.

While all farmers might not go as far as this chicken farmer does, the message behind this funny video is clear - there are chicken farmers all across Canada who are active in their communities and are part of the commitment to support up-and-coming swimmers achieve their Olympic dream. And any time an individual or a group like the Chicken Farmers of Canada is supporting an athlete...that's a good thing. 

So maybe you're thinking... "Well, I don't have kids competing anywhere near that level, so what does this have to do with me?" 

I get it. I have one son who is a provincial level short track speed skater, and my younger son is a non-stop moving machine who likes to dabble and try many different sports. To date, he has tried soccer, baseball, skateboarding, scootering, track and field, cross country running, hockey, and has run a few 5k races. They're both very different in terms of how they stay active, but both can also recite our unofficial house rules by heart: 

1. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to try your best

My eldest son is in a sport where winning or losing a race is measured by 100ths of a second, quite literally, faster than you can blink. My focus is never on my kids winning, it’s on having them always try with 100% of their ability.

2. Don’t worry about how you look while trying something new

It’s so easy to get trapped in the “I don’t want to look silly” mindset, but even Olympians had to start somewhere. 

3. Work hard but have fun

To get anywhere in life, you have to work hard but it’s also important to have fun with it. Otherwise, what’s the point? I certainly didn’t love my first few swimming lessons, but I laughed until I cried after the first time I took off my swim goggles and realized I may have put them on a little too tight and resembled Squidward from Sponge Bob Square Pants

4. Fuel your body with good foods and your body will be good to you

Come over to our house any time and you’ll see our fridge filled with fresh fruits and veggies that are cut up and ready to be eaten. A typical dinner at our house is generally a protein (typically chicken or fish) with some sort of salad (chickpeas for the win!) or other vegetables — my kids call it my “go to” dinner. But, and this is a BIG but, treats are also fine because they're still kids. And quite frankly, I would be a less happier person if I had to give up my secret stash of chocolate. Life is too short.

5. Surround yourself with people who support you

There are people in your life who are either going to lift you up, or bring you down. Say goodbye to the down people and surround yourself with those who will help you get through the ups and downs — no matter what you are training for.

For the record, that whole “Don’t worry about how you look when you try something new?”

Nailed it.

P.S. I also nailed that triathlon. It wasn’t the fastest time, in fact I came in last in my age group. But for a gal who only six months earlier couldn’t swim 25 metres, I felt like I had conquered the world. 

And I couldn't have done any of it without support.