What Lily Taught Us About Youth Sports

Many children with incredible potential quit sports at a young age. Sadly, we see it often.  These kids quit because they don’t start in programs that emphasize the learning process, celebrate small signs of growth, and teach good sportsmanship. At i9 Sports®, we know how critical the right approach is during the first few years that your child is trying out and exploring their favorite sports. And yet Lily, a six year old soccer player from Colorado, taught us something. She showed us how truly important it is to help a child go from doubting to determination and the huge difference it can make in a child’s life.

As you will hear from Lily’s mom, our fun youth sports experience where players learn the game and develop confidence in their own abilities made all the difference for Lily. Her coach helped her go from being a timid little girl hiding behind her mom to a brave, confident soccer super star who can’t wait to play the game each week. WOW! We couldn’t be more proud of her  and just had to share with you. Her mom tells the story best in this video.

“Lily is six years old and played one previous soccer season when we lived in Ohio. She did not enjoy soccer and it took a lot of coaxing to get her onto the field. We moved to Colorado this summer and signed her up for i9 Sports® soccer with her twin sister. Lily eagerly participated in her first practice before the game, but as soon as it was time for the game to start, she ran off the field and onto my lap. She was in tears, she didn’t want to participate in the game at all. She was scared of getting the ball taken away from her, scared of getting hurt, and didn’t want the other parents to watch her. She also didn’t think she was fast enough to keep up. She spent most of the game with her head buried in my shoulder.” 

“Lily’s coach was kind and encouraging, but not pushy, he was very patient with her and as the game went on she was at least willing to watch. With ten minutes left in the game, the coach persuaded Lily to come on the field just to stand by him. He invited her to kick the ball if it came close to her and she could run if she wanted, but she was welcomed to just stick her foot out if the ball went past. The parents on our team cheered for Lily as she took to the field and stuck her foot out to touch the ball. The game ended and our coach led his team over to stand in front of the other team to wave at them and say thanks for playing. When our team huddled together and the coach explained that he had two sportsmanship medals to give to kids that were good listeners that day, Lily was shocked when one of the recipients was herself. She was beaming as she showed the medal to me. On the way home in the car she said, ‘mom I must be a really great soccer player because I got a gold medal today. I didn’t even know I was such a good soccer girl, but I am!’ She noted that her two siblings that had also played that day hadn’t come home with medals, so she must be even better than she thought.” 

“Throughout the coming week Lily took every opportunity to get the soccer ball out in the backyard and practice, she asked when the next soccer game would be and couldn’t wait for Saturday. She was even trying to give some tips to her twin sister and older brother so that they could get a medal like her. At the next practice she eagerly participated with new enthusiasm, she ran like I had never seen her run before. She was so excited to do her very best, she was happy to tell me that she had even blocked some goals. She is a natural defender and we can see that in her game. I tried to explain this change in Lily that I had seen to my husband, but the explanation just couldn’t do it justice. He had the chance to watch for himself a couple weeks later and was floored by the transformation in Lily. Lily even told me that when she grows up she wants to be a professional soccer coach or olympic horse rider.” 

“I just wanted to share this experience with i9 Sports® and thank you for providing such a safe and positive environment for children to learn to play and enjoy sports. I know that’s what i9 Sports® is all about and you do it very well, it’s made all the difference for Lily and her confidence in herself in soccer and in other areas as well.”  

Confidence is such an exciting game changer to see as a parent and experience as a child, both on and off the field. We truly hope to help every child to ease into their transformation from self-doubt to determination, just like Lily.