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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cindy Ricketts- The Athletic Mom

When we first become parents, I could three bits of wisdom from three different people. 
1- Peggy Watson gave advice on toilet training. And although my son was a slower learner in this area than I wanted, her advice was great.
2- When Allen was 2-3 years old, I told Dawn Snyder I wished he could stay that age. Her wisdom was, "You will find every age is different but they are all enjoyable." And she was right.
3- And finally, Harley Knosher told me, "If you want a model on how to raise kids, watch Duane and Cindy Ricketts." And he was right.

Cindy and Duane were both good high school athletes at Yorkwood. Duane made a wise decision and went to Knox. Cindy was less fortunate in her decision making and went to Monmouth. I got to know both of them as worked with Kelly for four years at the high school. They were enjoyable parents to have as a coach. They always seem supportive of their kids, as well as the other kids on the teams. They have high expectations for their kids but at the same time are reasonable.

Kelly entered our program as a very quiet individual. By the time she was a senior, she had a quick wit that kept coaches in place. The more I have interacted with her parents, I realize she comes by that naturally. 

I asked Cindy to answer some questions. I thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of someone who was a highly competitive athlete and now is the mother of highly competitive athletes. 

You had a good high school and college career as a player. As an adult as you look back on your athletic participation, what do you feel you gained from athletics?
I learned for one, to get along with others to accomplish a goal. I learned to manage my time, work hard and gut it out even when I didn't feel like doing it.I learned how much fun success can be. I learned how to hit a pretty good 3 point set shot (which back then was only worth 2)  But honestly, I learned how to relieve stress by exercise and have a heck of alot of fun with alot of close friends. The best thing that came about from my playing days was that I eventually gained a husband. In our sectional game my senior year Duane said he would take me out for dinner if I got 20 rebounds that game. Well I got 19 and I talked the guy doing stats to fudge one for me (sounds like Ryan huh?) and the rest is history! I could beat him in a game of horse too!  (Which led to winning alot of bets.)

You have had a daughter play high sports. How have girls sports changed from the time of your participation to your daughter’s participation?
Alot! It was more fun than a job in our day. If you wanted to be a good player you played a lot of ball in the driveway with your family. In my case I played alot of bball in our barnloft with my older brothers. Whenever the ball fell down one section of the floor it went into the cattle manure and of course being the only girl and the youngest I was made to go get it everytime and clean it off. Let's say I learned to deal with "sh.." early in life. Mom and Dad didn't have to spend tons of money and gas taking me all over to participate at an early age.

On a more serious note: the game has become a much faster game than it was in my day. I am saddened to see the "post" or "center" becoming less of a factor in basketball.It certainly has become more physical. In my day my daughter would have fouled out in the first three minutes of the game. (My son well, he sorta did anyway.) I wish we could of played a little more physical back then. Any sport now seems like it must be played year round to be good at it. I feel bad kids these days can't enjoy all the sports they want to enjoy in school and still be competitive or have time to breath.

With four children playing a variety of sports, what is best part of being a player’s mom and the worst part of being a player’s mom?
The best part of being a players mom is seeing them be a part of something special.To share some of the same experiences. The pride you feel when they accomplish a goal. The things you see in your children that you would of seen in yourself or your husband. To watch them grow and mature and to be able to see them have fun and feel successful at something.
The worst part of having these athletes is senior nights and my smelly laundry room! Not too many families sweat more than ours. I will never forget that last basketball game in college and the hole it left in my heart. I know how they feel and it leaves a hole in my heart knowing they are growing up and leaving home.

I must add that it bothers me all the meals we have had "on the run" and how many meals we missed "as a family". But the long talks in the kitchen after a big game, late at night with everyone gathered around  .....eating and hashing over the game, sorta makes up for that.

How are your nerves as a parent before/during a game vs. when you were a player?
It depends on the age and the game. I would have to say my nerves are worse as a parent. I always wear a St. Sebastian medal to all the kids games. (the patron saint of athletes) I always carried one in my bag in college too. I worry for their safety mainly. Especially in football. I never thought about those things as a player. Just a mom thing I guess.  As far as the game itself, it was so much easier to be a player than a parent. I remember being on the free throw line in the championship game of a regional against Galesburg as a matter of fact. It was at the end of the game.I said the sign of the cross  in my mind and  all I thought was I make this  and we  win the regional.We did win!  That same situation as a parent would turn my stomach. My prayers would be flowing abundantly!

When you see a flaw in your son/daughter’s game, how do you handle that? Do you tell them or do you let it go?
Once again it depends on the age. When they are younger I like to tell them and try and explain it, (after the game, unless I was the coach.) As they got older I tried to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes it was hard but my kids are dedicated to their coaches and wouldn't listen to me anyway. I usually let it go. There were more important things I tried to tell them.

What is your strategy after a tough loss or a bad performance?
That depends on the child. They are all different. In most cases having Ryan in the house would lighten up any situation. When Ryan has a tough loss we turn our talk to the next day of deer hunting. We never dwell on it. In some cases we try to tell them it builds character and the sun will come up tomorrow.

As a parent, you have had lots of coaches with your children. What qualities do you want your children’s coaches to possess, or “messages” do you want them to pass onto your children?
 Obviously you want your child's coach to be a good person. I want them to instill a good work ethic. I also want them to learn that anything worth having is worth working for. To be the best you can be yet know that sports isn't the most important thing in life. I want a coach that can see what each child needs to succeed. For some kids a good chewing would help, while others need alot of confidence and self esteem to grow into their potential. I want a coach that shows a good work
ethic in him/her self.  Of course I want a coach that knows the game they are coaching.

Your family has always been close to Coach Knosher. What do you think makes Coach Knosher a special person?
Harley possesses the qualities I stated above. He can bring out the best in a child. He can make a child feel good about themselves.He can give an athlete the self confidence they need. He also is a man of good character. Harley is  a loving, kind, family man. I also know he can be tough and lay into any player that doesn't show respect and be serious about the game.

In closing, I want to say thanks for the memories and all the good qualities you helped instill in Kelly. Thanks for bringing some sports success to Galesburg. Hope I didn't ramble too much. Hope your family has a Merry Christmas! 


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