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Family Sport Story

Mari_Skating_1985-darken

So how did I get into sport? You could say it’s in my genes…

On my mother’s side, my grandma Rosalie was a fan of baseball. She often had the Tiger’s game on the radio and I have very fond memories of listening to Ernie Harwell’s voice, laying in the warmth of the sitting room, while my grandma clipped coupons at the kitchen table. My grandpa Don was a sports enthusiast. He was an avid fisher, bowler, boxer, and golfer in addition to playing football, softball, and blooper ball. He also liked Tiger’s baseball and enjoyed Steelers football (since being a Lion’s fan has always been tough). He also worked to raise money for a new Little League ballpark in Bay City, MI in the 80s.. My mother ran track in high school and has always been active in a variety of recreational sports including skiing and rafting. I remember going to her flag football games in my youth. We goofed around racing and arm wrestling, worked out together at the gym, and spent summers swimming.

On my father’s side, my grandma Patricia did traditional Samoan dance as a girl. My grandpa Eki was career Army. He boxed in competition and played rugby and softball. He also played golf and still does at 90 years young! He enjoys watching the Padres and Chargers and is also a big fan of pro tennis and golf. Pretty much all of my uncles golf and play basketball and tennis. My father was a professional skateboarder in the 70s. He skiied, pioneered snowboarding, surfed, roller-skated, and also enjoyed playing pick-up basketball and softball. He would play just about anything but skateboarding was his true love.

Given my family sport story, it’s not too surprising that I have been active in a variety of sports in various ways my entire life. I learned to ski, roller skate, and skateboard early on. In grade/middle school I dabbled in gymnastics and bowling and played baseball, softball, volleyball, and basketball. When I was 12 I began studying Taekwondo. In high school I played basketball, softball, soccer, and ran track. I also continued Taekwondo until my senior year. Additionally, I talked my way into the training room and began to enjoy a different aspect of sports. In college I played a variety of club and intramural sports including volleyball, soccer, rugby, and basketball. I also spent some time pursuing exercise science and athletic training. I traveled with the men’s  club lacrosse team as a manager and unofficial trainer. I also worked part-time as a referee on campus. After graduation I took up boxing for a year, and continued to skateboard and snowboard.

Upon entering graduate school, I enjoyed participating in adult gymnastics. I started a club men’s baseball team with my spouse and served as the President for two years and GM for five. I did everything from administrative paperwork, to orders and scheduling, to managing travel, to organizing tournaments, to keeping score and the occasional appearance as first base coach. I worked with a youth sports program, training and managing the coaches as well as assisting in everyday operations and coaching myself as needed. I also worked with the athletics department in student-athlete support services for two years doing a variety of jobs such as academic advising, managing study hall and tutoring, and whatever else needed doing. On the academic side, I received my MA in Interpersonal & Family Communication with an emphasis in sports. My thesis research involved parent-child communication in youth sports. My PhD is in Relational Communication, Culture, & Sport. My dissertation research involved tensions in collegiate student-athlete identity. All this means that I specialize in relationships, identity, and culture in sports. See my bio page for more on my approach.

Today, I don’t have as much “free-time” for team and recreational sports but I do enjoy in-home fitness regularly and consider myself an Everyday Athlete. No surprise that my spouse, Jared also has a significant personal and family history of sports participation and enthusiasm. We are often playing various sports and skateboarding as a family in addition to watching (way too many) sporting events. Jared and I enjoy playing fantasy baseball and football and regularly engage in fun and sometimes heated discussion about just about everything 🙂

Sport is so infused into my life in so many ways that it represents a major part of my personal and family identities. Sport is part of how I relate to others and how I see myself. Sport related conversation works it’s way into almost any conversation with just about all of my friends and family. When I write or discuss sport, I draw on my experience as much as my education. How could I not?

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