In celebration of Mother’s Day, we asked our Athletes’ Council to share their favorite memories about how their mothers helped them in their sports. From giving advice, going on long road trips to tournaments and just being their number one fan, these mothers are the source of constant support to athletes at the highest level. Thank you to all the mothers out there supporting the dreams of their daughters in sports!
My mom has always supported my sports career and encouraged every decision I have made to pursue it. She follows me around the world to places like Fiji, Canada, London, and Amsterdam to watch me play. One of the cutest mom things she does though, is even though she doesn’t understand all of the rules of rugby she likes to give me playing advice. She is my loudest supporter from the stands and you can hear her yelling at how great I’m doing even walking up to the tunnel to run onto the field. My loudest cheerleader and nicest coach. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
When I was 16 I transition from road course racing to oval racing. The driving style between the two is different and the cars handle differently. I was so focused on going fast right away and impressing my new team owner. Unfortunately, in that tunnel vision focus I drove the car too hard and in a counterproductive way, going slower than I wanted. I got off the race track and was very flustered. I also got frustrated that it wasn’t coming together and that made me nervous. After my last practice session, my mother told me, “hit your marks, just make sure you’re at the right part of the track doing the right things with the pedals and steering, and piece each step together.” “Hit your marks” was simple, concrete, and slowed my thinking down. “Hit your marks” emphasizes the process, not the outcome. It is now my go-to phrase when I need to recenter and focus, on and off the track. Thank you, Mom!
One of my favorite memories of my mom and soccer is when my mom was taking me to a club soccer tournament in Ohio when I was younger. It was shortly after my parents got divorced and my mom is incredibly intelligent, strong, and independent, but she sometimes gets overwhelmed with navigating new places and doesn’t have the best sense of direction. But she didn’t hesitate for a second to take me to my tournament and we got in the car and the drive that was supposed to take four hours took probably double the time. We had to stop and ask for directions several times, turn around a few times, and I remember my mom gripping the steering wheel so tight that she had blisters on her hands by the time we got to the hotel. I like this story because it shows my mom’s constant love and support and putting aside her own fears, however small they may be, so that I could play in my soccer tournament.
A personal message from Tori to her Mother and all Mother’s;
“Mom, thank you for all the sacrifices you’ve made over the years and for being the best role model. You have always encouraged me to follow my dreams and have made me the person I am today. I can still feel your support every day, even while playing in Finland. You’ll always be my number one fan, and hearing your voice on the sidelines cheering for me means more than you know. Happy Mother’s to you and to all the mother’s out there. Moms, you’ve helped shape your children and we can’t thank you enough for all you do for us.”
Some of my fondest memories surrounding soccer stem from road trips with my mom. Growing up, we spent countless hours on the road commuting to various games, tournaments, college visits, etc. Whether she was driving me 45 minutes to club soccer practice in high-school or co-piloting an epic road trip half-way across the country in between professional seasons, she has been a staple in the nomadic lifestyle that comes with playing soccer. Despite often times being hundreds of miles apart, my mother’s unwavering support and guidance has been a fundamental cornerstone of my development as a player and person. While she’d never admit it, she has played a critical role in my success thus far. When I get to play close to home, there is no better feeling than looking up in the stands and seeing her.
I grew up in Melvindale, Michigan competing in the sport of Inline Speed Skating. In order to make it to a competitive level I had to train and compete all over the Detroit area growing up. As I improved and competed in larger competitions the distances that I needed to travel became larger and larger. No matter the circumstance my mom always made my dreams her priority. When she wasn’t working to support me she was in the car driving me to practice or a race. She has stood by my side through all of the difficult times and she has been there to celebrate with me through the good times. She is my biggest supporter and my best friend. I am honored and lucky to call her mom.
My favorite memory is when my mom used to take me to the rink. She would drive any day, any time, to let me go out on the ice and skate by myself or with whoever else was out there. She sat in the cold outside, in cold ice rinks, just about everywhere for hours at a time. She never once complained or told me I couldn’t go, and always put my time at the rink ahead of whatever she had going on. She was so supportive of me and constantly made sure I had the resources I needed to continue playing. She is the best support system I could have ever asked for.
My Mom is the strongest woman I know, not just physically but mentally as well. Not only did she raise four active children, she also maintains a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy, working out, and nourishing her relationships with those she loves. My Mom goes on epic bike rides, lifts weights, and dominates the tennis court then cooks a healthy dinner with fresh veggies from her garden. She leads by example. She has always allowed me to explore swimming on my own terms and has been there for my biggest successes as well as my biggest failures in the sport. No matter how I swim, I know my Mom will always be there to support me. I would have never made it to the Olympics without her constant support throughout my swimming career. Her mother, my Grandmother, has also been a source of love and support. My Grandmother is a tornado of energy, always going going going, her tenacity is a family trait that I am thankful to possess. I feel deeply blessed to have such strong women to look up to.
Excelle Sports associate editor Kim Vandenberg is an Olympic bronze medalist, Pan American gold medalist, World Championship silver medalist and three-time U.S. national champion and French national champion in swimming. She’s also a member of Excelle’s Athletes’ Council.