Most Read: Lifestyle

Trove link goes here

Live Online Discussions

There are no discussions scheduled today.

Weekly schedule, past shows

On Parenting
Posted at 03:35 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Jeremy Lin, CityDance and the courage of parental support

One of the fantastic elements of the fantastical story that is New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin is that the surprise basketball superstar is teaching us a lesson about preconceived notions.
New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin reacts after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in New York Feb. 19. (ADAM HUNGER - REUTERS)

There were so many reasons for Lin’s parents to steer him clear of basketball. They could have told him he wasn’t tall enough or he didn’t have the right grooming or that few coaches would give him a chance because of the way he looked. They ignored those possible obstacles and encouraged their son to endure.

The Post’s Fred Bowen wrote a particularly insightful explanation of this for KidsPost a few days ago.

The point came back to me yesterday, as I watched a performance of CityDance at the Strathmore arts center annual open house.

CityDance is a pre-professional training ground that draws young people from around the region. Their work covers a broad spectrum of genres from traditional ballet to hip-hop to modern. The dancers are just as diverse.

There is no single body type among these students — some are tall and lean, others stocky and muscular, others impossibly teeny. Some don’t look anything like what you would expect. Together, in ensemble pieces and solos, the beauty they create is breathtaking.

After the performance, I asked CityDance artistic director Lorraine Spiegler what she looks for when admitting and placing students. She said she pays little attention to body type or even technical training.

It’s courage, Spiegler says, that’s needed most. By courage, she means the ability “to be open.” Even those with the best technical training can get closed off, she said. “Courage to not feel boundaries.”

Courage may be something a scout has a harder time spotting in a child. The physical attributes that suggest a natural talent — souring height for basketball, a lithe body for dance — are much easier to see.

Certainly, there are some necessary attributes a child must posses to go far in their chosen passion. A recent blog on Forbes.com by Bob Cook outlined the dangers of parents misinterpreting Lin’s success and browbeating youth sports coaches into recognizing what they perceive to be their child’s hidden talents. Support does not have to be blind.

Still, parents are in the best position to recognize the fortitude, resilience and courage of a child. Lin’s parents certainly seemed to have recognized those traits in their son and supported him through the obstacles. Now they and the New York Knicks are reaping the rewards. More importantly, so is he.

Has your child expressed an interest in a sport or hobby that doesn’t seem like it would be a natural fit? How have you reacted?

Related Content:

Jeremy Lin inspires other Asian Americans to pursue sports

“Sports gene” testing: Maybe parents shouldn’t care

Expert Advice: Sports injury prevention

By  |  03:35 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Tags:  Sports, Childhood Development

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company