Home Local Voices Transition, Work & Motherhood: Playing Hurt

Transition, Work & Motherhood: Playing Hurt

Photo: Dr. Alan Gottlieb

Ed: Sydney Chaney Thomas is a Moraga-based writer and businesswoman with three books to her name, all currently available on Amazon. She is also co-founder of a sustainable sailing apparel company called Ocean SF, and operates a nonprofit that works to reduce plastic waste called the The Trident Project.

Sydney Chaney Thomas

Sydney teaches entrepreneurial marketing at UC Berkeley in their International Diploma Program and, in addition to this column, she writes a popular lifestyle blog, which can be found at sydneychaneythomas.com.

Transition, Work & Motherhood
Moraga, Calif. 
March 28, 2019

Now, that my own daughters are older I can offer advice to my friends who have younger children. Recently, the topic of sports has come up, the question being is it worth the time, effort and expense?

Both my daughters were athletes. My older daughter played volleyball, swam competitively for 14 years, and played golf in high school. My younger daughter did every sport possible, but primarily she played soccer and volleyball. They were both team captains and we traveled all over the country. It was time consuming and took over our lives for many years. The people we met, the fun we had, and the memories we share are without regret.  The experience as a whole taught both my children leadership, mental toughness, and integrity.

Because sports teaches an ability to be single minded and focused I think it was the dominate factor for both my children in being able to overcome the challenges inherent in losing a parent while in high school. They were both accustomed to playing hurt, showing up when they were tired, and putting the needs of the team above their own.

Team sports are often regarded as instrumental in developing the character of young adults and in my experience this is 100% true. It teaches them strength and determination that will carry them far along the path of life.

We are now almost three years out from the day my late husband suddenly died, but still I will never forget the moment I sat in front of them and told them both that they had good lives and I expected them to live them. My older daughter had five weeks before her senior year of high school started with college applications due soon after. My younger daughter had a soccer tournament in Portland three days later, and she was there.

The years of playing with injured knees or turned ankles allowed them both to continue to play at a high level with even a broken heart. Sports imparts many important lessons among them that sometimes we have to play hurt to win.

Our lives have calmed down since that fateful day, and we are no longer just surviving we are thriving. To use a sports analogy we have collectively moved from defense to offense and that feels really good.

Love and blessings to all.


    • Yes, I love writing and J.D. is kind enough to publish my work. I try to write to the interest of the community. We all love our students athletes!

    • Thank you! The photo was taken by another parent during an important game. He gave me a copy and it is a cherished possession from that era.

    • Stepping up during challenging times definitely creates strength. I’m very proud of my daughters. They embody the best of everything I wished to instill in them.

  1. I agree about all the lessons taught by athletics and played through the pain more than once myself. I reflect on those glory days while icing my knees after mowing the lawn now. It does catch up to us!!!

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