Edson: Spring Sports: A Cold Test for Athletes – and Parents

Athletes are taught to overcome obstacles with mental toughness.

But by the time you become a parent of an athlete, forget mental toughness. I mean, standing out in freezing temperatures for a couple hours isn’t tough, it’s stupid.

OK, I admit I’m being a little harsh. But not really.

This is the week where we start to ramp up spring sports in northern Michigan. But have you been outside lately?

Baby, it’s cold. And not just for us parents and – in my case – grandparents. Even the athletes have trouble staying comfortable in these temperatures.

That’s why at most spring sports contests you’ll mostly see family in the stands watching. The casual fans are working out at their favorite gyms or at home watching sports on TV.

As a former track athlete and baseball player, I can tell you that spring sports present their own special challenges.

So here are a couple tips to athletes:

  1. Make sure you warm up properly. This is actually very important. I remember not warming up before a track meet in April during my high school days. As I reached back to hit another gear during a relay, I felt something pop. I had torn a muscle. This wasn’t a muscle pull, it was a muscle tear. I should have stopped in my tracks, but I dragged my dead leg another 100 yards until I handed off my baton. Then I fell off to the side of the track. This was during the CMU Relays in Mt. Pleasant. My coach rushed to my side, saw what I had done and said, “Well, running that extra 100 yards to hand off that baton was either the bravest thing I ever saw… or the stupidest.” We both laughed.
  2. Nutrition is so important to performing your best. So athletes need to listen to their coaches when it comes to what to eat and drink leading up to the day of your contest. It can make a big difference in your performance.
  3. Don’t stand still or sit for very long. It’s always good to keep moving, even if it’s back and forth in the dugout or on the infield during a track meet.

Now here are a couple of tips for parents or grandparents of spring sports athletes:

  1. Try to park your car in a spot where you can watch the game. It’s not the most comfortable way to watch your son or daughter play, but it sure beats sitting out in the cold.
  2. Take something warm to drink. Enough said.
  3. If you have to sit out in the cold, take a good seat cushion and dress in layers. And if you do have to sit out in the cold for a couple of hours, reward yourself and your athlete afterwards. Go out to eat after the contest or pick up something to eat. This is supposed to be fun, after all.

I grew up loving spring sports both as an athlete and as a parent (sort of). But as a grandparent, I have to admit that staying warm and still seeing our grandkids play spring sports is actually the best of both worlds.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.