Top 6 stomach clenching moments

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/4/2014

Sooner or later, every sports parent has stomach clenching moments when your child faces competitive challenges. Can you identify with any of my top 6 stomach clenchers?

Injury setback

The summer before her junior year, my youngest returned from a mission trip with a broken toe and began her varsity season two weeks behind her teammates. To top it off, she sprained her ankle at her first practice back, which set her back another 2-3 weeks. 

When she was finally cleared to play, she had to fight for court time. At one tournament she was so discouraged with her performance that she went off to cry alone. Her disappointment was heartbreaking.

It was a tough battle for my daughter to work her way into the rotation. She ended the season strong, but the setbacks at the beginning almost had her beat.

“Will I be replaced?”

My son worked hard to earn the starting quarterback spot his senior year. After a couple of great performances, he had a tough game. Pouring rain, a muddy field, and a bogged-down offense resulted in an ugly loss.

After the game, my husband, who was one of the varsity coaches, heard the head coach talking about replacing TJ at QB. I knew it would devastate him. But on Monday, the coach called TJ into his office, gave him an “I want you to succeed” speech, and assured him he had not been replaced. At the next game, TJ had a great performance and once again proved that he deserved the position.

“You talking about MY daughter?”

When my oldest daughter was a sophomore in high school, she played volleyball. At 5’4″, she didn’t see much court time and we were happy when she got in the game.

During one match, when she was subbed in for a player, the dad of one of the team’s “stars” yelled loudly from the bleachers, “Oh no, what are you doing!?”

Perhaps this was more of a mama-bear moment rather than a stomach clencher moment, but after the game, I approached the dad and firmly told him, I did not appreciate his comments. 

“I hate volleyball!”

By the time my youngest was a senior, she felt confident that she’d be libero for her volleyball team. It was what she’d wanted for 3 years and now it was about to happen. But two games into the season, she came home from practice devastated. Her coach had decided to give someone else a chance at libero.

She walked in the door and went to her room sobbing, “I hate volleyball! I never want to play again! I’m going to quit!”

However, the next day she was back at practice, ready to fight for her position. The coach went ahead and started the other girl at libero for the next game. My daughter put up a positive front, supported her team, and the next game she was back at starting libero. Where she stayed for the rest of the season.

I couldn’t watch

In my son’s senior year, he faced another challenge to his starting spot, this one in basketball. He’d been starting all season, but with the coach periodically threatening to replace him. As winter homecoming approached, my son was not sure he would start. It was a big night at the home gym, and being pulled from his starting spot would have been a huge disappointment for him. On game night, I sat in the car, stomach clenched, afraid to watch the team introductions for fear he wouldn’t start. A few minutes later, my stomach unclenched when I heard his name announced as one of the starters. 

Heat stroke?

My oldest was a softball catcher and in the extreme heart of Northern California, I would often worry about how hot she got in her catcher’s gear. One time, the heat got to her so bad that in between innings she went into the dugout and threw up in the garbage can.

Is she all right? Should she be playing? Maybe she should sit out for a while!  Fortunately, her dad was coaching, so I trusted him to see that she was okay.

Those are a few of my stomach clenchers. I look back on those moments now and see how they all worked to make my kids stronger in character. How about you? What causes your stomach to clench as a sports parent?

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. Check out her Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series with survival guides for football, softball, basketball and volleyball moms.