I spent the summers of my youth on a ball diamond night in and night out. I spent most of my playing days as a confident player, but there were those times I wasn’t so confident. There were those teams we’d face and I thought we were beaten before we ever even stepped on the field. There were some batters I’d face down confident I owned them, and others I dreaded coming to the plate because they owned me. Then there were times we’d surprise ourselves or I’d surprise myself and that batter I thought owned me or that that team we thought owned us didn’t stand a chance against the player(s) who stepped out onto the field to play that day. We came out with a different mentality. We came to win; we came to conquer.

Now as I coach young girls and raise young female athletes, I know there is great value in what youth sports can give a girl.

Though they won’t always be competing on a ball diamond or a soccer field or basketball court, I’ve come to see how relevant the mentality we gain from youth sports is to our mentality in life.

Sometimes life will just flat out own us. We will feel tired; we will feel defeated. Whether that young girl as she becomes a woman is trying to conquer her career, a relationship, motherhood, or her goals and ambitions there will be times she feels like it owns her rather than her owning it.

At times life has been the batter staring me down taunting me with self-doubt that I didn’t stand a chance. But it was the mentality that was built in me as a youth athlete that pulled me out of those downhill spirals.

Youth sports teach a girl to rise up and dust herself off and go for it harder next time.

Sports teach her not to just be aggressive on the field but to be aggressive in life in going after the things she wants.

Just as a young female athlete may struggle to beat her opponent and feel defeated at times before she even starts, she develops grit . . . refusing to settle for not good enough, building in her the drive to never settle for runner-up to the version of herself she’s aiming for in life.

It may seem like just a childhood game and though it is just a small part of a girl’s life, those youth athletic moments become small pieces of the puzzle pieces fitting together to create the canvas of what she becomes.

She will learn about drive and finding her life’s passions from the game.

She will learn it takes serious hard work to achieve what she wants.

She will learn to push through the failures and the defeats and disappointments.

She will discover it is her drive and passion rather than her talent that will lead her to success.

She will learn about faith. Faith in the teammates that will have her back and faith in herself as she will have moments of triumph and struggle.

Hopefully, she will learn about unity and teamwork.

It will be through her pursuit of the things she loves that she will learn how to overcome frustration, how to push forward without quitting, and how to push forward over others’ and even her own doubts and criticisms.

The games she pursues can teach her many things, and she’ll see not to let the rough moments get her down because sometimes those moments are where she’ll learn the greatest things.

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Angela Williams Glenn

Angela Williams Glenn writes about the struggles and joys of motherhood on her website Stepping into Motherhood. Her book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas examines the expectations verse the realities of motherhood in our modern day digital era and her book Letters to a Daughter is an interactive journal for mothers to their daughters. She’s also been published with Chicken Soup for the Soul, Perfection Pending, and That's Inappropriate. You can find her on her Facebook page at Stepping into Motherhood.