Olympic Moms: Raising an Athlete

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Beverly Labbe is the mother of Stephanie Labbe of the Canadian Women’s Olympic soccer team that will be heading to Rio to compete on the world stage this August. Stephanie is the goal keeper on the women’s team and this will be her first Olympics. She currently has one Pan Am Games medal to her credit, having won silver at Santo Domingo 2003. With the under-20 team she won gold and silver at the 2004 and 2006 CONCACAF Championships. As a member of the senior team, Labbé has three Cyprus Cup Championships, a CONCACAF gold medal from 2010, and played in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. 

We all raise our children to strive to reach their top potential. Raising an Olympic athlete is no different. Stephanie started playing soccer when she was 12 and from that point on a large part of our family’s life was spent involved in the sport. Through the last 15+ years, and our journey to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games we’ve focused on three guiding principles to keep us moving forward and help her reach her potential in her sport.

Support

I wouldn’t use the word sacrifice to describe my journey to Rio with Stephanie but as a family we definitely adjusted our schedules to support and cheer her on, wherever possible. Family vacations often revolved around whatever country she had a game in—and we loved it! To this day we schedule our family holidays around her tournaments so we can be there whenever possible to give her a big hug after each game.

Communication

As a family a large part of our strength is drawn from open communication. Communication was really the biggest support we could provide Stephanie over the years. Often we had to watch her games online but we always made sure to send her a text before game to let her know we were rooting for her!

Communication in our family never held any restrictions. I remember in university she felt she wasn’t getting enough playing time and needed a pep talk at 2:00 a.m. one night—so a hundred miles away my phone rang. Stephanie eventually decided to take a step back from the National Team in 2012. We always told her to talk it out with coaches and peers as well as my husband and myself. Our communication gave her the strength she needed to be comfortable in her decision.

As a mom I’ve always tried to be strong for Stephanie. Watching her struggle with the decision to step back from the team in 2012 was a time where I had to be particularly strong.  Every time I see that Thank You Mom video it reminds me how important my strength and support is in my daughter’s journey. And, as we are both proud women, we are proud to be associated with the Like A Girl campaign, because we know how difficult it can be for girls during puberty to maintain and grow their self confidence. Stephanie is living proof that with the right support and encouragement, girls can take on the world.

Positivity

A trait I admire most of Stephanie is her positivity. She always sees the good in people. Positivity is a focus in all our lives. If I could give one piece of advice to parents who are starting this journey with their kid it would be to stay focused on the positive. Recognize when your son or daughter is down and keep lifting them up. Over the years we’ve learned to let the coaches do their job and even when we don’t agree my husband and I keep any negative thoughts to ourselves.  Being an elite athlete has enough pressures without having Stephanie worry about what we think.

As we head to Rio in a few short weeks we’ll carry each of these with us. Every athlete’s family will travel down their own path on their road to Rio. None of us set out to raise an Olympian but with support, communication and positivity we can all raise pretty great kids!

This post is brought to you by P&G’s ‘Thank You Mom’ team.

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