Excelle Sports’ Athletes’ Council share Father’s Day memories

In celebration of Father’s Day, we asked our Athletes’ Council to share their favorite sports memories with their fathers, whether it be playing a sport or watching it with him.  From pushing their daughters, to driving to countless tournaments and providing endless support, these fathers are the source of constant support to athletes at the highest level.  Thank you to all the fathers out there supporting the dreams of their daughters in sports!
Kim Vandenberg:
Well it’s hard to choose just one sports memory with my Dad. He works in finance in San Francisco and would often drive me to the pool at 5 a.m. for morning swim practice on his way to the office.  Through his example, he taught me self discipline, focus and work ethic.  He also loves sports; my Dad was often our coach for baseball and my brothers basketball and football teams.  He would always be at the pool with a dry towel and big parka after my swim races.  My Dad has traveled to Australia to watch me in the World Championships and to Beijing, China to watch me in the Olympic Games but my favorite memories are still when we would just play around our backyard pool with our family growing up in California.  He never pressured me to be an Olympic swimmer, instead he constantly supported me in my own goals within the sport.  Growing up, I remember he would often tell me I could stop swimming whenever I wanted to and that he was proud of all I have accomplished.  I feel blessed to have him in my life.
Julia Landauer:

It’s hard to pin point my favorite sports moment with my dad, as we’ve experienced the majority of my racing career together. My favorite moments in go-karts were when he was my mechanic and we’d solve kart handling issues together. We’d be having an off day and brainstorm all the ways we could fix the go-kart. And when it worked, we were overjoyed!



It’s also always been fun to watch races, especially the Formula 1 races we went to in person, with him. He loves it and seeing the joy of him being at the track is wonderful.
My favorite recent sports moment with my dad was when he was with me on the night I won my first NASCAR championship, in September of 2015. He had seen me win earlier in the year, but to have him there in Victory Lane with me and my family as we saw all of our 13 years of hard work paying off was priceless.
Imani Boyette:
When I was young, probably like preteen, my father always went to the Crenshaw YMCA on Monday mornings. I would get to tag along on those days when I was out of school. It would be the highlight of my week. I would work out with my dad and even get to play on his team when the guys started scrimmaging. I was already over 6 ft by this time so I blended in but I was terrible lol. But you couldn’t tell me that. I played my little heart out and after my dad and I would head to Lousianna Fried Chicken. We don’t always see eye to eye but I love that man. Thanks for being my first hero dad.
Madison Packer:
My favorite sports memory involving my dad is when I was offered a full scholarship to play at The University of Wisconsin. My dad was the director of women’s hockey for my club team at the time, and he handled all the college communications between coaches and players. We were standing in the Chicago airport waiting to board our flight home, and he came walking over to me, tears in his eyes a little bit and said, “They want you Maddy Pack. I’m very proud of you.” He gave me a little hug and kissed me on the forehead. It was a really cool moment that still makes me a little emotional because my dad drove me to almost all my tournaments in high school, he sacrificed a lot personally and worked endless hours, so that my siblings and I could have a life most kids only dream of.
He is the epitome of what it means to be a dedicated father. I owe so much to him, and can never repay him for all he has done in supporting me while I pursue my dreams. He worked hard when things weren’t easy, and he always made sure he was in the stands to support me. He was at every game of my college career except for maybe four. When I blew my knee out going in to my freshman year of college, he came to every game at the start of the season even though he knew I wasn’t dressing and sat watching with me in the stands. He continues to be the most supportive person in my life, along side my mom, and I am forever grateful for all he has sacrificed for me along the way. Every time I won a championship, achieve anything athletically, or just in life in general, it is always an accomplishment for my family because it is due to their sacrifices that I was able to get there. Thank you dad. For everything.
Victoria Christ:
Growing up, my dad was a hockey goalie. He played hockey in college and practiced with the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL. You could tell he loved the game and the position just by how he talked about it, something that I think I get from him. He always wanted to play in goal, so when I started playing goalkeeper in soccer, I think he was very happy.
Throughout my career, he has taken me to many club soccer tournaments all across the U.S. and Canada, ODP tournaments, college recruiting visits, and attended practically every college game, home and away. Yet, one of my favorite memories comes from an early age, when he used to roll socks up and shoot them at me with a hockey stick in our family room, just for fun, but secretly I think to get me working on my hand eye coordination. We would always be laughing together. Besides that, my dad has always believed in me, and told me to push my limits and keep working on my game.
My message to my dad:
Thank you for always believing in me and pushing me to be the best goalkeeper and person I can be. Thank you for chasing after every punt when we would go practice at the local high school, for playing catch with me in the house, for taking me all across New York State for ODP, and for coming to all my games in college. Your support has meant so much to me and I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I love you and Happy Father’s Day!
Jessica Smith:
One of my favorite sports memories with my dad is OUR Olympic journey. Ever since I can remember my dad has sacrificed to provide for his family by working countless hours. He always made sure I could chase my dream and pushed me to be the best athlete I could. My dad’s hard work ethic rubbed off on me and I was able to reach my goal of becoming an Olympian.
I love you Dad!
Maddy Evans:
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed listening to stories my dad tells me about his days watching soccer games as a student at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York – at the time, Hartwick was consistently one of the best NCAA Div. I teams in the country (& national champs in ’77). My dad’s appreciation for the beautiful game runs deep and is always apparent as he recalls countless memories surrounding the sport of soccer. I’m sure though, that as a college student cheering on Hartwick, he never imagined that he would end up watching hundreds upon hundreds of hours of women’s soccer. Today, I know he’d agree that it’s been a fun journey!
Many fond memories with my dad come to mind, but one certainly stands out among the rest. When I was younger, my dad would come to a park with me near my house and we’d kick around together. Nothing was ever planned – just some passing up and down the field, some shooting and some corners (let it be known; Papa Evans serves in a killer corner kick!) Now, when I’m home over Christmas in the offseason, I go to our local YMCA to get touches against the wall. My dad comes into the gym after his run and we kick around just like we used to. It’s a blast.
Ultimately, there are simply too many things I can thank my dad for on Father’s Day. How hard he works, day in and day out, and his passion for life inspire me everyday. I can thank him for the countless nights he drove his long commute home from work, quickly ate dinner, and then got right back in the car to drive me to practice an hour away. Or, most recently, I can thank him for road tripping with me down to my new home, Orlando. But most importantly, I’m thankful for his unwavering support of my crazy journey as a professional athlete, and his ability to always keep it fun.
Caroline Clark:
My favorite sports memory involving my dad has to be when he coached me in 3rd and 4th grade basketball. We spent the practice before the league championship game rehearsing the introductions. I didn’t know it then, but he was introducing me to visualization and the idea of experiencing a moment in sport before it actually happens. I still use the skill today. Thanks dad! Happy Father’s Day! Love you!
Megan Bonny:
My dad has always been the one to believe in my dreams even before I did. He has always seen my potential and has pushed me to do my best. I am very much like him. I get my over competitive nature from my dad. One of the great things about that is that he also gives me lots of advice and life lessons as they relate to my sport. It’s almost like he is giving me advice from future me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. It started with driving to basketball games in elementary school and listening to our favorite pump up song together all the way to where I am now, pursuing my dream of making the Olympic team. He helps me see what I need to work on, and in other areas where I need to relax and not be so hard on myself. He believes in me enough for the both of us and I can’t tell him how much I appreciate everything he has done for me.
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