Category Archives: Information

Living without Facebook

Day 1

I have been on Facebook since 2008.  The pic above is how I looked back then.  It has been a non-stop eight years until yesterday, February 28, 2017.  Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent.  Lent is the forty-day period before Good Friday and Resurrection weekend (Easter) where Christians (primarily Catholic) give something up to focus on God.  People choose all types of things to give up:  food, alcohol, cigarettes, soda, coffee, or chocolate.  Whatever your vice in life is, you make a conscious choice to give it up for these 40 days.   I equate it to a New Year’s resolution…with a lot more punishment involved.

Giving up something for Lent, to me, is a form of punishment.  You are declaring to yourself and your body, I am going to go cold-turkey without (Fill In the Blank) in 3-2-1…. While that is OK in some respects, it is not necessarily wise.  Even doctors advise you to taper off gradually from meds and habits that may have a physical response if abruptly shut down.  Now I realize that social media is not meds, but the chemical response that social media gratification produces in the body has the same consequences if significantly reduced or removed without a tapering off period.  Well, I did all of the above without tapering off with Facebook.  I am going without Facebook for Lent.  I have not given up Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn because I choose to remain informed by, yet detached from, social media.  Why Facebook (FB) and not the rest? Why now? FB is my first social media account.  It is where I have the most friends, with the most content.  It is the platform for my diatribes and claps-back at people.  I have all of my other social media accounts to feed into FB.  I have my community there.  Its…well, its home.

Why now?  Now is good because it coincides with Lent.  That creates a goal with dates of achievement.  A goal without dates is just a dream.  The dates of Lent create a parameter for my brain.  So in preparation for leaving FB, my brain was telling the rest of my body.. .”Don’t panic! It is only for 40 days.”  Without this parameter, anxiety and stress would set in, others parts of your mind (the self-gratifying side that loves to see the number of responses that you have to the items that you posted) would start the fight or flight language; you can’t do it…it’s Too much, what about your friends (Note the TLC reference)?  What about your hashtags (the pleading verges on the ridiculous), what about the political rants (will not miss those at least I don’t think so), what about…. But parameters set up the boundaries.

Boundaries help to define your life and regulate time.  And with FB inside my boundaries, it was overtaking my life to a certain extent.  It had become my life, from a social media perspective.  I do enjoy seeing and hearing about what’s happening with everyone (thanks for the commentary on the Grammys and the Oscars,) but from a time perspective, it was encroaching on my day.  The time reference, of course, is in retrospect as it has only been 12 hours since deletion and 8 of those I have been asleep.  It is almost paralyzing.

When you make a decision to remove something or someone from your life, the first few hours and days, you are extremely cognizant of it not being there.  You begin to see how much it was a part of your everyday existence.  FB has been just a reach away for so long.  Nightly, on the side table for when my alarm goes off, or I can’t sleep…the red numbers beckon me.  Early morning before I shower, scrolling just to play catch-up.  I have friends in other time zones.  When I drop the kids off at school, I do just a quick check because I may need to respond.  Intermittently during work, when I am in the restroom, during my lunch break, as I wait in line to order food.  It is incessant.

This morning was different.   Last night, after my final post on FB I deleted the app from my phone.  And I second-guessed myself through the entire process.  I was in full panic-mode.  I truly didn’t know if I could do it.  The one saving grace was merely this…”I had made a promise to myself and declared to my FB world and.  It SHALL BE DONE”.  That is a great thing about putting things out in the universe; it makes you accountable.  You are responsible for yourself first and the veracity of your words.  Second, when you give voice to your plans, you enlist the universe and God (Insert your deity as necessary) into helping accomplish that which you have spoken.  The power of your words is astounding, whether for good or evil.  It is so important to be mindful about what we are speaking over ourselves and others.  For  Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21 (KJV).  However, back to the point.

This morning was different.  My routine was the same, however, instead of spending 20 minutes scrolling, posting, and replying, I scrolled quickly through Twitter (you may see some retweets), and I was into the rest of my daily routine.  It was invigorating.  I had redeemed the time and was mentally preparing for my day ahead.  I had gained focus!

The point I am making is this:  it is easy to lament what you give up, however, what you learn or create as a result may be well worth the loss that you experience.  I am still having withdrawals and trying to discover what other productive things can be done instead of lamenting the lack of scrolling.  And here is a note of caution:  I will not replace one questionable habit/addiction with ANOTHER!!!  But know this; the possibilities are endless!  Option # 1 “Back to Blogging!” That’s a good, positive habit to have.

Vote 2016


This blog is a little off the beaten path for my page, but I believe it relevant in spirit.  As with athletes and voting, sometimes its not because you want to do it…its akin to doing the right thing because it IS the right thing.  Nothing more, nothing less.

I really enjoy the presidential election cycles.  It is the one time that I listen pretty exclusively and almost non-stop to the political news channels…for both sides and those in the middle.  I especially like those news channels that are raw and edgy.  Those that provide a perspective that is a LOT less main stream.  This is a ritual that started for me when then Senator Barack Obama made his first run for president in 2008. It is where I find out whats is considered politically news-worthy and research it myself.  I look at the candidates, listen to their battle cries, assess their followers, laugh at their faux-pas, and view their hi-jinks in stark, startled amazement.  And now with my new-found love,  satellite radio, I can be amused, entertained and angered in my beloved truck “Smoosh”.  Woohoo!

But seriously…

For those registered voters who are vowing to not vote for Hillary or  not to get on the “Trump Train”, or who plan to “Feel the Bern” and write in Bernie Sanders or Mickey Mouse, Lebron James, Prince, Michael Jackson or your pet as your vote for the highest office in the country… I implore you to reign in your righteous indignation, and THINK for just a minute. Now is the time to be smart and band together instead of further segregating and polarizing ourselves (choice of wording intentional). For EVERYONE, it is a time for banning together behind a cause, if not necessarily the candidate or the party. Because, without fail, one of the primary political parties will ultimately have control of the government.

Bernie supporters…if he is not going to win the nomination, he probably will not win if you write him in…make your vote count. Voting for a candidate that doesn’t have a chance a winning is the equivalent of possibly handing the election to the very person that you REALLY don’t want to have it.

Bush, Carson, Christy, Cruz, Kasich, Rubio, et. al supporters, same for you… Now is the time to evaluate the hand that we are dealt: Hillary or Trump.  Get on board or jump ship, the choice is yours and those are your options.  Your candidate did not get the nomination.

Politicians have plans and agendas that we don’t like. They say what we want to hear, then do something completely different.  They insight our passion or our ire, but they do insight us!  Insert your passion(s) here_______________________. Decide for yourself (scientific or not-so-much) who you believe will put your most passionate beliefs at the forefront of their presidency, and one who will uphold our legacy and reputation as a FREE UNITED STATES to the best of his/her ability. Decide who that person is, AND THEN GO VOTE!  I hear you saying “None of them do it for me.”  But one has to get closer than the other.  Find something that you can rally behind in the candidate and go for it!

At the end of the day, our decisions today and in November, affect the lives of generations to come. Let’s make a smart decision and protect the legacy of the United States. The smart decision for all is to MAKE OUR VOTE COUNT.

When it’s all boiled down and you step to the voting machine, it is about your gut. What does your gut say about how this Democrat, Independent, Other or Republican, is going to treat YOUR country, YOUR state, YOUR city, and finally YOU and YOUR family if he/she is elected.

And you, my friend, are the vital key to the entire process…Your one singular vote, your gut decision, will help to seat the next president of the United States. Your vote is a private discussion with yourself. This discussion is both a privilege and a burden. A discussion that, I believe, my readers will embrace as a privilege without hardship or grievance.


10 Questions to Ask a College Coach or Recruiter

10 Questions to Ask a College Coach or Recruiter


It is September 1st. For high school Juniors who are student-athletes interested in continuing their athletic careers at the collegiate level, its D-Day. From this day forward college coaches have free reign to offer, entice, flatter, cajole, and even beg you to come to their school and play for them.

If you have declared yourself eligible and have an NCAA Eligibility number, look out.

But how do you do it? How do you decide which is the best school for you of the ones that are recruiting you? What do you want from the school? What are your five year goals? How do you weed through all the schools saying “Pick Me!” to find YOUR rose among thorns?

Once you have determined what you want from a college or university, here are 10 Questions to ask a college coach/recruiter that will help you determine the school that is most conducive to your goals and success. Remember, this entire experience is about YOU, the student-athlete, and your ultimate goals for your future.

  1. What is your overall graduation rate?
  2. What is the graduation rate for athletes?
  3. What is the graduation rate for athletes in your sport?
    1. Do you plan to graduate from college or is it just a spring-board to professional athletics after one or two years?
  4. How many athletes make the Olympics, get drafted or play professionally from your program? (This is in keeping with your 5 year goals)
    1. Determine if this program can get you where you want to be within your collegiate career.
  5. How much longer is the head coach/jumps coach/assistant coach/recruiting coach’s contract?
    1. Student-Athletes primarily join a program because of a coach or coaches. It is important to know how much time you will have with that person BEFORE you commit.



Another important aspect of being a student-athlete is not just about having the financial obligation of  your education covered.  It is important as a student-athlete in college that your school provide you with a sense of self and well-being during the time that you spend there.  After all, this portion of your life is the final step before adult-hood.  And a important part of your growing sense of self is diversity.

Diversity is simply variety. Diversity is necessary in the college environment in order to portray the organization as an “all-inclusive” entity. Lack of diversity on a college campus is not wrong, however, it should be a prime consideration in choosing a school. If there is no one on your college campus like you, then how do you fit in and feel “at home”?

Ask the coach/recruiter these questions regarding diversity:

  1. Diversity in athletics?
    1. Is their diversity amongst the different sports offered at ABC College/University?
  2. Diversity in college/university?
    1. Diversity in the academic side of ABC College/University.
  3. Diversity in city/state?
    1. It is important to have someone in your school who can relate to you as a person outside of the realm of your sport or extracurricular pursuit.
  4. What is the student-athlete transfer rate for your program?
    1. Student-Athletes transfer for a myriad of reasons. See 3 and 4 above. This information can help you understand if the coaches at the institution are monitoring their programs for underlying problems.
  5. Do you offer the major I am seeking? (Majors can be found on college website, but ask if what you seek is not there.)

These 10 questions are just a guideline for how to begin a conversation with college recruiters. However, before you can ask these questions, you must be able to answer them for yourself.

OK! What are you waiting for high school Junior and parents? Get busy answering these questions!

Next Blog “How to determine what college or university is best for you”.


Tackling WPW – Outtakes


Here are some of the outtakes, or bloopers if you will, from the Tackling WPW blog.  I would have loved to have them in the original post, but it just made things too long.  Some are funny and some are meaningless!  Enjoy!

Travel and Team

Arielle’s cardiologist, Dr. Black and his staff were instrumental in getting everything scheduled so that Arielle could have everything handled in one trip. You see, the electro-physiologist, Dr. David Bush was in San Antonio, as is Dr. Black. And we are in El Paso. Dr. Black is the cardiologist for Fort Bliss and has two regular appointment days monthly in El Paso.

The nail that pierced my tire.

The date was set and the travel determined. Arielle and I piled in the Suburban and hit the road. San Antonio is about eight hours from El Paso.   The trip was uneventful with the exception of a nail in my tire that had to be repaired before even leaving El Paso. Did I assign that as an omen of things to come? Nope. This was literally a trip of a lifetime. This trip would change Arielle’s life forever. She would go from having a possible life threatening syndrome and ending her sports career to being free to soar to heights uncharted on the other side of this procedure. I was elated and anxious.

While Arielle was in San Antonio, her high school volleyball team was competing in a pre-season tournament in Corpus Christi TX. They all knew of Arielle’s diagnosis as she was unable to practice with the team for the two weeks leading up to the procedure. They really missed her on the court. To see Arielle’s volleyball skills, check out this video.

That’s Arielle’s head

When we arrived at Six Flags we were both a little perplexed at our behavior. Since both Arielle and I are self-professed roller-coaster junkies, why are we not riding?!? Truth be told, we didn’t trust her heart to hold up. The procedure was looming and we were now well aware that she was at moderate risk with the WPW. We were afraid that she would be scared to death. We walked for a while in 100+ degree heat and then finally settled on the Poltergeist as the first ride. It was a good ice breaker. Arielle realized that her heart would hold up primarily because she was bored with the ride. The Poltergeist had no real thrill factor for her.

That set us off on a quest. We were looking for the ride that would deliver the thrill. We were in the hunt. Since it was a Thursday, the lines for the rides were fairly reasonable. So we hit it–hard.   We did Superman, Goliath, Boomerang, RoadRunner, the Iron Rattler, the Sky Screamer and then finally Batman. The ultimate test of a roller-coaster’s thrill for us is how you look on the picture that is taken and what exclamations or screams escape your lips as you ride!   Arielle smiled on all of the ride pics! I did well on all but one. The Iron Rattler was on for the ages! That one almost had me in need of a motion sickness pill. It was a great time and it kept our minds off of the WPW procedure.

After the park, we went and had a huge meal at Pappadeaux’s . This was going to be Arielle’s last meal before her procedure and I wanted to make it memorable. We had everything from appetizers to dessert. Arielle had her three favorite things, lobster, shrimp and pasta. She had the Lobster Mac & Cheese appetizer and the shrimp pasta entree.   Definitely memorable!

Pre-procedure antics
Pre-procedure antics

Ghetto Diaper

In the midst of this flurry of activity, Arielle feels the need to go to the bathroom. Since the procedure required entry in her groin, she couldn’t sit up and go to the bathroom the regular way, so Nurse Jennifer brought her a bed pan to use. It is very awkward to use a bedpan when you have use of all your faculties, but it is even more so when you are partially anesthetized and required to lay flat on your back! Arielle had no success with the bedpan even after 3 tries! The bladder was just not cooperating.

Arielle was upset because she really felt the need to go. She said It was at the point where her sides were hurting. But, being the typical teenager, she didn’t want to pee in the bed. Nurse Jennifer told her it was fine to pee in the bed that they would clean it up, but Arielle was not EVEN having that! Then Nurse Jennifer offered a diaper since she didn’t want to wet the bed. I interjected and opted for the diaper.

So Arielle was getting a diaper…NOT! Nurse Jennifer came back and said that they did not have diapers big enough for Arielle. She did offer to fashion a “ghetto diaper” out of the moisture pads that they place under you to protect the bedding. She was just about to do that when the crew came in to take Arielle back downstairs. I am not sure if Arielle was relieved to not get the ghetto diaper or not because she still really had to go!

Nurse Jennifer let Nurse Keri know about Arielle’s urinary dilemma and Nurse Keri said she would handle it downstairs. By “handle it” she meant put in a Foley catheter. When Nurse Keri came to get me from the waiting area she told me that Arielle REALLY did have to go badly. She utilized the catheter quite nicely.  And by nicely I mean filling the bag to near capacity!

Afterwards when Arielle woke up, she checked herself and realized that she had the catheter in and said “Mom! There is something in my V-Jay-Jay!” I explained to her that it is not in her V-Jay-Jay as she so eloquently put it, but it was what was helping her to go to the bathroom in lieu of the ghetto diaper!

Getting an appointment

A T-shirt at Six Flags

Now I had to get an appointment at the clinic.

I called the Appointment services for Fort Bliss and was offered an appointment on September 9th. Are you kidding me?!? Unacceptable. The appointment rep told me to call back on Tuesday 8/25 to see if I can get an appointment for Wednesday. So I did.

I called the appointment line Tuesday 8/25 the minute they opened at 6:45am. Again I was offered September 9th.  Again I said unacceptable. I told the appointment rep that I needed an appointment today, 8/25 or tomorrow 8/26. He looked had me on the phone for 7 minutes looking for an appointment. I finally got an appointment for 8:40am on 8/26. It was with the same provider that started us on this journey. AND it was earlier than it would have been with Dr. Black! Win-Win!  I knew that the provider would have no problem doing what was required to get the EKG to Dr. Black.  She was VERY familiar with Arielle and her story.  She almost had a vested interest in getting her cleared for sports.

When we met with the provider, we gave an update of the procedure.  Then she put in the order to get an EKG done and to have it faxed to Dr. Bush. We know the EKG routine now and it’s not as scary as it was on the front side of this situation. At first we were hoping that nothing was found and we are still hoping that nothing is found, but for a very different reason this time. Finding nothing means everything this time.

We waited and waited to be called to the EKG room. Our nerves were still on edge because of what happened while in San Antonio. The EKG was done and we left. Both Arielle and I were still uneasy, because it just seemed like the med tech didn’t do the EKG right. She just did not know what was riding on this EKG. One slip up and we are in trouble.

Now we just had to wait for the final review by Dr. Bush. I contacted the office to make sure that the EKG fax had been received. But Dr. Bush would not read the fax on Wednesday. He was in Laredo doing screenings. He would be back in the office on Thursday to read the EKG. So we had to wait ONE More Day.

The bad thing about waiting the one day means that she would not be quite ready to play in the volleyball tourney in Wofford TX, the weekend of August 28th – 29th. She was allowed to attend the tourney because her discharge paperwork said that she was able to practice but not released to compete. So I am waiting to get the clearance so I can get it to the trainer, so he can get it to the coach, so she can take the court with the team on Friday morning. Talk about cutting it close!

Clearance Day

Once Arielle’s official clearance was received from Dr. Bush and sent to the trainer, it was discovered that Arielle had not turned in her physical form. This meant that she would not get clearance from the trainer to compete until it was turned in. But she is already in Frenship suited up and ready to go! Unaware of any of this, I am driving my son, Benjamin, to school when my cell phone begins to go crazy. First it’s a text from the trainer requesting the physical. I have it so I will email it. Then I get a call from the Coach. OK I relay the same message. I will email it in 30 minutes. Then she says, “but we are warming up right now.” That’s when I realize that they are on Central Standard Time in Lubbock and not Mountain Time, thus 1 hour ahead. Oh Snap!

Then I get a call from the trainer. I tell him that I am heading that way and can bring the physical by his office on my way to work. “OK , that’s fine.” And then I panic! Do I still have the physical in my purse or did I leave it at the office?!? I commence to praying, because I cannot stop and check my purse. Oh boy…

I arrive at Burges, disobey the traffic monitor and barrel through the parking lot to get to the trainer. He is outside waiting for me! Thank God, I find the physical in my purse. We run in the office and get the paperwork cranking. While I am signing the physical, he is on his phone. He is literally dialing the coach as I write. I finish signing and he says into the phone “OK Coach, she’s a go!” It is 7:55am here and 8:55am there; 5 minutes before game-time! Crisis averted, yet again! He gets her information updated on the system, gives me Arielle’s official clearance paper and I am gone. And yes the traffic monitor is still there, giving me dirty looks…oh well…

From Routine to OMG!



Life shifts can happen at any time. The key is to have a plan of attack no matter what the challenge.

May 8, 2015    Arielle has a routine primary care appointment to get a referral for the podiatrist. During the routine evaluation, the primary care provider (PCP) begins to think that Arielle is exhibiting signs of Marfan Syndrome. Marfan syndrome is what caused Isaiah Austin, the Baylor basketball star, to withdraw from the NBA draft in 2014.   The PCP requests some tests: x-rays for spinal deformity, genetics referral, and an EKG to check for the cardiac component of Marfan Syndrome. The appointment ends and life goes on.

Shortly after Arielle’s EKG, I receive a call from the Pediatric department to set up an appointment with the pediatric cardiologist. I am instantly concerned because I think of all the things going on in the next few weeks. Arielle is the TX-5A Region 1 Champ in both the Long and Triple jump and is heading to Austin for the first time ever to compete in the State track meet. She has goals and plans for her future in athletics at the college level. Coaches are jockeying for position to get her attention in both volleyball and track. I didn’t want her plans for athletics to be derailed by Marfan like Isaiah’s. I set the appointment and decided to wait to tell Arielle later so that she wouldn’t worry.

Arielle’s track season takes off like a shot. She goes to state and takes 2nd place in the Triple Jump. She is invited to compete in the Great Southwest Outdoor Track & Field Meet in June. She qualifies to go to the USATF World Youth Trials in Chicago for a chance to compete for Team USA in the IAAF World Youth Championships. She is oblivious to the fact that she has a cardiac appointment in a month.

The appointment weighs on me heavily, however. What if she has the cardiac component of Marfan Syndrome? With that diagnosis her entire sports career is over. It’s high risk for sudden death that makes her untouchable by any D-1 school athletic program. No track, no volleyball, no nothing. How do you tell your child that she can no longer compete collegiately as she had planned? It is sheer agony.

Every time I get up the nerve to tell Arielle about this cardiology appointment some other great event happens. Right after she qualifies for the youth trials in track, she receives an email saying that she made the high performance volleyball team for the region. It is quite an honor to make this team. She’s excited and I am deflated because now is still not a good time to tell her.

While preparing for the Border championships for summer track, Arielle is notified that she is El Paso Female Track athlete of the year! It’s another reason to be excited and STILL not a good time to tell her about the cardiology appointment.

Finally, I tell Arielle about her cardiologist appointment once we return from World Youth Trials on July 2, 2015. The appointment with the cardiologist is July 9, 2015. She instantly asks if something is wrong with her heart. I say no, that they just want to be sure. Being ever the optimist, I even scheduled her school sports physical for the same day. I was so sure the cardiologist wasn’t going to find anything and she would be cleared on her physical to start volleyball practices.

That was my plan. The universe, however, was not cooperating.

July 9, 2015. Appointment Day we go to Arielle’s appointment and the first thing they do is take another EKG for Dr. Black, the cardiologist. And we wait…and silently pray…and awkwardly try to act like everything is fine. Dr. Black comes in and tells us that Arielle does not have Marfan’s. Whew! Then comes the but…but she does have Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW). What in the world is that? He immediately calls us to a place of calm and begins to explain what WPW is and what it entails.

WPW is a syndrome where an alternate pathway develops in the heart in utero.  Normally, the electricity goes through one designated pathway and is slowed down prior to entering the different chambers of the heart, so that the heart pumps properly. This alternate pathway allows the electricity to pass through the heart without being slowed down at all. This unchecked electricity can cause irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation, and sudden death with high intensity cardiac events…like sports!

WHAT?!? Arielle and I both begin to pepper Dr. Black with information and questions. She has USATF Junior Olympic Nationals coming up, what does WPW mean for that? Volleyball season is coming up, how long will she be out of commission.  What about this, how does that play out with that? I am feeling frantic and so is Arielle.

Dr. Black immediately reassures us that WPW is totally fixable and that she should be able to continue with her sports career once it is fixed. But…

But?!? Another but. But what? I did not realize that I was holding my breath until I started feeling light-headed. This was a lot to take and we had plans and finances tied up in Arielle going to Jacksonville to compete in the Junior Olympic Nationals. This was her year of redemption etc. However, Arielle’s health was most important. We both knew that and wanted to convey that to Dr. Black.

Dr. Black listened patiently to our concerns and told us that Arielle was not allowed to do any competitive athletics until her heart diagnostics were confirmed. There was a possibility that with high intensity work-outs that the alternate pathway could possibly automatically shut itself down once the heart rate was raised to 150+ beats per minute. But in order to determine that Arielle needed to get a Holter monitor and do a stress test to get the diagnostics.

A plan is then mapped out a plan to get things moving as quickly as possible in light of our plans for Jacksonville. He needed Arielle to wear a Holter monitor to track her heartbeat for 24 hours. Once the diagnostics were received he would know how to proceed. If the alternate pathway shut itself down during high intensity workouts, then she is out of the woods and can continue as normal. That was definitely my hope because I really want her to be OK and to not have her season derailed.

No such luck. Arielle wore the monitor during two track practices, played Just Dance on X-Box, and went roller skating. The results showed that her heart rate during exertion got up to 170+ beats per minute and the pathway did not shut itself down. So we had to prepare for the next procedure which was an electro-physiology study and cardiac ablation. It is not open heart surgery but anything dealing with the heart is always of major concern.

Arielle and I had a talk in light of this new development and decided that she would compete in Junior Olympic Nationals in spite of the diagnosis. The thought process was that she had competed this long with WPW not knowing that she had it and this was her last track event of the season. We would finish the season and then deal with the WPW.

This response was made not from a place of panic but it was calmly discussed and all of the possibilities analyzed. From an early age in sports, we have always taught Arielle to know what her priorities are before entering into any venture. This makes the decision making process more streamlined and easy to navigate. If you don’t know the priority, then any challenge can likely throw you off course. We know that “track is life” and we were going to see this great season through to the end.

While at the Junior Olympic Nationals, it was very scary for me to sit and watch her compete. I generally enjoy watching Arielle get all intense with the competition. I generally encourage her to push herself to her very limits. This time, though, it was a little different. Although I wanted her to make All-American and do really well, I had this growing apprehension of “What if…?” I watched her compete and put on a brave face, but it was one of the hardest things for me to ever do so far. When she finished both her events as an All-American, in spite of the WPW diagnosis, I could not have been prouder.

All-American at Junior Olympic Nationals were the final feathers in a great season’s cap. Arielle finished the 2015 track season as:

  • EPISD District Record Holder (Varsity) in Triple Jump (38’11.5”)
  • 5-A Region 1 Champion in Long Jump (18’7”) PR
  • 5-A Region 1 Champion Triple Jump (40’ 6”) PR and Burges High School record
  • TX State Silver Medalist in Triple Jump (40’ 3.75”)
  • Great Southwest Outdoor Triple-Jump 6th place finisher 2015
  • El Paso Times Female Track Athlete of the Year 2015
  • USATF World Youth Trials Competitor 2015
  • USATF Border Champion in Long Jump 2015 (5.57) Border Record for 15-16
  • USATF Border Champion in Triple Jump 2015 (11.93)Border Record for 15-16
  • USATF Junior Olympic Nationals All-American Long Jump 2015
  • USATF Junior Olympic Nationals All-American Triple Jump. 2015
  • Milesplit TX Female Track Athlete of the Year Nominee 2015

Now on to deal with this WPW.

The Theory of Specialization – Sports


How does the Theory of Specialization relate to sports? Is it real and why is it gaining traction across the country?

The theory of specialization was first introduced by Plato. It is an economic term and basically states that the need of a state could be supplied by four or five individuals. This theory was advanced through history by Adam Smith and Karl Marx. Smith believed that specialization of labor allowed companies to produce more goods and increase each worker’s ability. This theory, although not applied to sports in an official capacity, has been gaining traction throughout sports in the league ranks and is permeating the high school ranks as well. It seems to have skipped the middle school areas because middle school sports are more about inclusion rather than exclusion.

The theory of specialization, as it applies to sports, relates to how a parent, coach or other significant adult in a child’s life would lead a child to drop other sports and focus one particular sport in order to be really good or “specialized” in that area. That makes sense to some degree, but when a child is still growing physically and the body is changing does specialization help or hurt the child?

The body needs to use all of the muscles all of the time in a growing child and especially in an athlete. And the most natural way to do that is to participate in multiple sports. This is why in schools PE teachers have the students participate in all types of activities. This is to work all of the muscles. Cross-fit, the new take on cross-training from the 80s, is the new craze in fitness. It works all of the muscles. It makes for a well-rounded athletic specimen.

Specialization too soon can hurt the child and lead to the following:

  1. Impaired muscles
  2. Injury
  3. Sport-burnout
  4. Resentment

You can put this list in any order that you want. No matter how you slice it, the results are not healthy or helpful for a child pursuing sports.

The body needs to use all of the muscles in order to grow properly. If a person begins to specialize in one sport too soon, using the same muscles repetitively year round in this sport, the other muscles begin to suffer. This leads to the non-dominant muscle becoming pulled in an abnormal way because the dominant muscles are so much larger because of repetitive use.

Since the body is built symmetrically, it is designed to be relatively the same on both sides. But you can tell even in small things which part of your body you use the most. Here is a mini-experiment to prove my point: Look at your hands. Notice that your dominant, or writing, hand is slightly bigger than your non-dominant hand. It’s the same thing with your feet. The one that gets the most workout is the one that is bigger.   And the same thing applies with your entire body. If you are right side dominant then that side tends to be bigger because it does most of the work.

When the muscles specialize, they tend to shorten to the specific task that they are required to do. However, when the tasks change on a regular basis then the muscles becomes more flexible and elastic so that it is prepared to do any task asked of it.

So, back to specialization. Am I saying that specialization is wrong? No. It becomes necessary if your child is going to advance in sports beyond high school or even as a career choice. However, specialization should be done based on the desires of the child, not the desires of the coach or even the parent. A child should be allowed to be in all of the sports that he/she feels capable of competing in until they decide on what sport they want to specialize in. After all, your child is the one doing the work. And with kids if the work is not fun, then it is not worth doing.

Also, just because you get some attention from a recruiter in a sport, does not automatically mean that you should drop everything and focus solely on that sport. *CAVEAT* If you know the reality of you getting recruitment looks and possibly advancing in the 2nd or 3rd sport is very minute beyond high school then by all means do what is best for your child.

As parents you do have to perhaps limit the sports to what you can handle financially.   However, even if you don’t do all the summer leagues and just narrow events down to one league sport for the summer, you can still keep your child going in the other sports with summer camps. My daughter plays three sports and is also in an elite triple jump program for track. She does volleyball camps and does summer basketball league. Her primary focus in summer is track because that is her sport that she wants to focus on in college and also wants to use to go to the Olympics.

All of these sport things are subject to my daughter’s schedule and what events take priority. However, she is in full control of what she wants to do and when she is going to begin to specialize. Its only fair because she is the one that has to do the work.  She knows her body and how much it is capable of enduring.  And as long as its fun for her she will continue.

Your child should be given the opportunity to play as many sports as he/she can so that they will have more chances to be really great at the sport of their choosing rather than the sport of the coach’s demand or the parent’s desire. Many times a child will incorrectly infer that they are not good enough for another sport if you want them to specialize too soon.

After all, the child is the controlling partner in this investment. They put in the work, they go out and produce and they deal with the consequences of their actions on the field or court. Our job as parents is to guide the child to the best possible scenario for them, and teach them how to navigate their lives in such a way that the each decision made is driven by the motivation of giving them the most successful outcome for the work that they put in.

Being Courted


Being courted is an old-fashioned term used many years ago to mean dating with intent. Now what exactly is “dating with intent”? Well in order to define courting vs dating 2014, one must define dating as it stands in today’s society. Today dating does not mean the traditional meet for a movie or food with a person with whom you have a growing infatuation of affinity. No, dating today is what we used to term “I like you and you like me so we ‘go’ together.”

Courting, on the other hand, means dating with the intent to marry. Back in the day, a young man did not just show up, grab the girl, and take her away on a date. No indeed not. If you were considering yourself courting, you had intent to do right by the young lady. You showed up at the home, addressed the parents and made that intention known. The Father and Mother blessed the intention maybe, and made it clear that if you did not make good on your intent, it would not go well for you.

In the arena of recruiting there is a similar type of courting going on. The school looks at your child’s information, video, or sees them at a camp or performance and decides if they are a good fit for their program. Then they decide how much “courting” they are willing to do.

My daughter, Arielle, got a letter of interest yesterday from a college for track & field. Her Snapchat picture and the emoticons pretty much tell the story. She has just gotten a taste of what it feels like to be courted. She is now enamored with this school and is beginning to realize that this is not a drill. She will soon be in a position to have to make some hard decisions on how she wants her future to play out.

Because she is just a sophomore, there are some rules and regulations that college coaches must adhere to in the recruiting game. However, there are some things that they can say in the context of a “general” information letter that will clue you in on how much courting they want to do with your child.

Now it is up to you to determine if the level of courtship is to be reciprocated. You know what I mean…you remember the love letter that goes like this:

I like you a lot. Do you like me? Check the box Yes ☐ or No ☐

Once you get a letter courting your child, and you understand the level of the courtship, how do you determine which box to check? Or are you like Arielle was, infatuated and ready to sign on the dotted line?

I must admit that I was very excited as well to see the Snapchat post. My heart did kind of skip a beat and I was instantly infatuated. It feels good! You see that your child’s hard work is being recognized and that doors are beginning to open ever so slightly.

It is important that we as parents make sure we know what our children want in a school as well as what we want FROM the school in order to determine if they are a viable candidate for consideration. Information on the school is fine, but if we don’t know what we want from the school how do you know if the school meets the standard?

Many times, we as parents 1.   do not think about college until it is breathing down our necks. Then there are other parents who have instilled the college mindset into our kids but 2. have not embraced the dream of our kids in college for ourselves. And some still 3.  have a fear of the cost of college and because of that, they do not speak about it to their children for fear that they will be unable to pay for it. Others, still 4.  may not have had the traditional college experience and therefore they don’t push it for their children.

My college scenario is a combination of #1 and #3. I lived with my Aunt and Uncle and my Dad lived in Philadelphia. As long as I remembered I had talked about going to college. My route was going to be through academics not sports. I was smart, and got chosen to go to Engineering summer Camp two years in a row and won the Governor’s Energy Essay Contest for the 10th grade Division etc. However, no one seriously looked into the cost of college or really even considered it much. This was in the days before the internet, so everything you got from schools came via snail mail. I had schools sending me letters like crazy trying to get me to apply to their school. Don’t be fooled just because the NCAA offers a sliding scale for qualification, the better your ACT/SAT test scores the more opportunities open up for you academically.

I eventually applied and got into both of the top universities in South Carolina, University of South Carolina and Clemson University. I did everything required to make sure that my enrollment was assured and I prepared to go to college. About two weeks after high school graduation, my aunt comes to me and states that no one has considered how much it was going to cost to go to USC and so I will have to take the small scholarship offered by Francis Marion College and go there and stay at home with them instead.   Needless to say it was like a kick in the gut! Did they think college was free? Did they not know that I had wanted to go to college? I cried for 3 days straight, I wouldn’t eat, I wouldn’t leave my room. I was on a hunger strike! I was basically telling them that either I go to the college of my choice or die in that room. Yes the struggle was real and the tantrum was in full effect! Eventually, my Dad worked out the finances and along with a couple of student loans to supplement the shortfall, all I can say is Go ‘Cocks! Yes I graduated from the University of South Carolina.

The moral of the story is: Don’t make your kids pay for your lack of understanding. Do your homework, know your limitations and be prepared to help your child get the educational experience of a lifetime.