One Gifted Girl’s Experience with Sports

My daughter is many things. A gifted girl is just one of them but it is through this prism that we, and she, views things. When I talk about things gifted I use this prism. Including when I talk about gifted children and sports.

How She Sees Herself

My daughter self-identifies as a nerd and a geek.

Not as a creative girl. She has never, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating, finished a school art project on time. But she’s taken up crocheting. I’ve got a lot of potholders.gifted children, gifted children playing sports

Not as a country girl. She loves the city and wants to live in a loft downtown. But she loves visiting the countryside. For short periods of time. Really short.

Not as an athletic girl. It’s taken a while to find her sporty side. It’s sports are a huge part of who she is but she’s given it the old college try. Here’s a rundown of what she’s been through.

Our Sporting History

  • T-Ball – She started just after she turned 3 and continued for three seasons. The first two seasons she cried at every game. Usually because she worried she didn’t have enough sunscreen on. You can read about our experience here.


  • Gymnastics – This lasted six weeks. There was zero way she was ever going to become inverted. Not even to do a somersault. She liked the trampoline and the leotard. That was it.


  • Ballet – Dang she looked cute! This lasted about a year-and-a-half but the logistics became too much for our schedules and she didn’t enjoy it enough to make it a higher priority.


  • Basketball – Her dad coached her kindergarten basketball team. She was the only girl and frustrated the boys didn’t want the team name to be the Purple Butterflies. The Purple Dragons was the compromise. She made it through the entire season without ever touching the ball during a game. She did shout from the court during a game, “Hey Mom, what font do you think they used on that poster?” They lost. Still a sore spot with my husband.


  • Swimming – Six months of private swim lessons = able to get face wet while wearing goggles. Called it a win.


  • Archery – Recently found lessons nearby. Bummed she didn’t get a bow for Christmas. Guess she should have put that on the list to Santa.


  • Martial Arts – This one has stuck for about a year-and-a-half but now we’re foiled by logistics. Hoping to figure this out soon.


  • Running – Took this up in the fall through Girls On the Run (love this organization) and she’s completed two 5K runs in the past two months. Took 2nd place for her age division. I nearly burst with pride.

A while back I wrote about how to recognize a parent of a gifted child and said you wouldn’t find them at soccer games.

Well, of course some gifted kids play soccer, or football, or lacrosse. Just like I’m sure there are some kids who identify as athletes who also happen to compete in chess tournaments.

Just because sports isn’t a high priority for a kid doesn’t mean that they don’t play sports. For my daughter, like many kids, gifted or not, it’s just one facet (and maybe not a very big one) of who they are.

So maybe you will find the parent of a gifted kid at a soccer game. Or at the cheering at the finish line of a 5K run.


There Is Crying in T-Ball

There is crying in T-ballI know, I know; not all gifted kids are bookworms. Many are out there kicking soccer balls on Saturday, shooting hoops in the driveway, or turning cartwheels until their head spins. When I knew I was going to have a daughter I thought my weekends for the next several years would be filled with dance recitals and volleyball games. Ha!

The kids in our family are into sports. A lot of sports. So when my daughter turned three we signed her up for t-ball which was the only sport I could find for kids her age.

I know most little girls do gymnastics (at least in my neck of the woods) but I have what some have called an irrational fear of her breaking her neck that sport. But I did cave in and she took gymnastics for three weeks and that’s how we found out she has irrational fear of being upside down. And that took care of that.


Her birthday was in March and t-ball practice started in April so she was a very young player. We’d been to plenty of her cousin’s games so she was excited about playing until she saw the team shirts were blue – the horror! Pink was a big part of our lives back then. We supplemented the uniform with a pair of pink Chuck Taylor’s, pink ribbon for the ponytail and a pink batting helmet. She was definitely a three year old girly girl.

The first (and only) practice was exactly what I imagined it would be. The field was on a hill in a small, rural community. No one around except the inexperienced team, a capable and patient coach, anxious parents, and a bunch of cows grazing nearby. Very Norman Rockwellesque.

The kids learned how to catch the ball, which way to run the bases, and how to hit. Expectations for a t-ball team of three-year olds are thankfully pretty low.

Safety First

All you really need to know about the first year of t-ball was at my daughter’s first at bat she looked totally prepared. Her hot-pink batting helmet (it was huge, think Rick Moranis in Space Balls and she wore it the entire game), her stance was strong and her game face was tough. Just as she was ready to swing she she dropped the bat and ran screaming and crying, “Mom, I need more sunscreen!” That’s my girl.

She went on to play t-ball for 3 seasons but that first one was a doozy. There were tears at each and every game that first year.  I can’t tell you what they were for but she never wanted to quit. I think tears are just part of the landscape at that age.

The second season there were no tears (except one time the game got rained out) and she made friends. That was a huge win. Those games were the absolute best 45 minutes of the week that summer.

By the third season you could definitely tell which kids had natural athleticism and which didn’t. It became evident that t-ball and all thoughts of future softball games were going the way of gymnastics.

Lessons Learned

  • You’re never too young to be a part of a team
  • Tears are normal for three-year old girls (Right, please tell me I’m right!)
  • Good t-ball coaches are precious and I’m grateful for them
  • My kid would much rather read about sports than play them
  • Pink really does go with everything

I will always be grateful that I was able to see her be a part of her first team.

What was your child’s first experience with sports like?