It’s been eight years since senior Joyce Chen first became acquainted with basketball.
An eager little kid always following in her older sister’s footsteps, Joyce was entranced by the sport, by its rhythm and its fast pace. Her mother, Sue Chen, readily encouraged her along the way, always coming to her basketball games, driving her to events and volunteering for the team.
Eight years have passed, and not much has changed. Sue continues to support her daughter in any way possible, drawing a critical link between parent involvement and success in sports. As a parent, she believes that it is her responsibility to assist her children as much as she can and extend a helping hand whenever it is needed.
“Parents play an important role in anything that their kids do, not only in sports,” Sue said. “They should help [however] they can [as] it is important for the kids to see — so that [they] will learn how to do the same for other people when [they] grow up.”
For Sue, supporting Joyce means bringing food to her games and driving the team to various locations. It also means cheering her daughter on from the sidelines as she runs up and down the court.
Philip Liu, father of sophomore varsity basketball player Ashley Liu, sees his responsibilities as an involved parent in a similar way. Like Sue, he yells loudly from the stands, chanting his daughter’s name. He drives his daughter to practice and motivates her when she’s feeling down. In addition to his role as a motivator and supporter, Philip also considers himself to be a coach of sorts.
He records all of Ashley’s games on his camera, paying close attention to both her strengths and her weaknesses. When the match ends and the family is nestled on a sofa, Philip and Ashley watch the clips on the TV, proceeding to analyze the team’s performance on the court. Philip doesn’t do this to merely critique his daughter’s skills, but rather to encourage her improvement.
“My role as a parent is to help [Ashley] achieve her goals,” Philip said. “If she wants to continue to play, I want to give her as many tools as possible.”
Although he has her best intentions at heart, Philip admits that sometimes he gets carried away in the rush of his daughter’s successes and pushes her harder than is necessary. He yells at her at times, urging her to practice more and more. In times like these, Philip gauges his actions in retrospect, telling himself that he is not playing the game — his daughter is, and only her opinions matter.
“The most important thing to me is that Ashley’s having fun,” Philip said. “Winning, of course, that’s important too, but having fun is the [number one] priority.”
Trelawney Pereira, mother of sophomore Miles Pereira and senior Devin Pereira, believes that parents should not directly involve themselves with their children’s sports. Miles has played soccer at MVHS for two years and has been on the track and field team for one, and Devin played soccer for three years, field hockey for four and has been on the track and field team for two. Instead, they should simply watch from the sidelines, keeping in mind that their child’s experience on the field is more important than anything, and that they are there for support.
“My involvement as a parent has nothing to do with [my kid’s] level of dedication, whether they win or not,” Trelawney said. “They know I’m here but I try not to be in their face or too mom-like, so we actually don’t have a whole lot of interaction and they can focus on doing what they like.”
Trelawney arrived at this conclusion based on her own experiences as a tennis player at Live Oak HS. As a high schooler, she remembers having at least one parent attend each of her matches. She even recalls a favorite photograph of her playing tennis, where her father can be seen in the background cheering her on.
These positive memories made sports all the more worthwhile for Trelawney, which is why as a parent, she volunteers at her kids’ athletic events. For her, it is one of the last times she will get to spend time with her children.
“It goes by so fast, so why not take off three hours in the afternoon and work later in the evening when I can come out and watch [Devin] compete or Miles compete?” Trelawney said. “I’ve learned to embrace these times to hang out with my kids and be on the same field as them [so that] someday my kids will look back on their high school years and think, ‘Wow, that was cool — my mom and dad came to my games.’”
For Sue, providing support is the primary motive behind her involvement with Joyce’s sport. She believes that it is important for parents to sacrifice their time, to be there for their children as it reinforces the love and connection between the two parties.
Philip agrees, believing parent involvement is a very basic and integral aspect of sports. His daughter, Ashley, reciprocates this belief, considering herself to be immensely lucky for having such a supportive father.
“I know a lot of parents don’t really want their children playing sports, so they don’t come and watch the games,” Ashley said. “When my parents come and watch, it makes me feel more supported, knowing that they’re okay with what I’m doing.”