Gretchen Breuner, a graduate of UC Berkeley and a San Diego resisdent, is the author of the eBook How to Plan an Amazing, Kid-Friendly RV Adventure. She was featured in the April 2011 issue of Parents Magazine, blogs for a number of sites and has a new book coming out this fall. She is also available for speaking engagements and coaching. Visit her website to find out more,

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What can we learn from our kids’ sports?

Two nights ago, my daughter played in her back-to-back championship basketball games. I sat on the bench, cheering on the team yet recognizing so many opportunities for a lesson, for the adults.

One of my daughter’s teammates, Jen, was new to basketball and played rather timidly out on the court. Nonetheless, her team embraced her, as did the coach. Mostly, Jen would request to sit on the bench, too nervous to play. I’d find myself smiling warmly at her, as she most often looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

During game 1, our team was doing well. Coach put in Jen and cheered her on. Truthfully, coach was far less patient with the stronger players but seemed to have a soft-spot for Jen. Coach stood up on the bench and yelled, “Jen, you’re gonna score 2 points this game, you’re gonna SCORE!!”

The girls dribbled the ball up and down the court, and, as luck would have it, Jen found herself down near the basket. One of her teammates passed her the ball and she turned to put the ball up. It went in, and I lept off the bench, shouting, “WAY TO GO JEN!” Most of the gym cheered for her, even the ones who didn’t know her and probably just thought she was a lousy player. And with the crowd cheering, I was pleased to see how we all cheered for the underdog, for the girl who was never going to be a star player, but for one night got her chance at making The Shot.

They were the only two points Jen scored, but that didn’t matter. All I saw was a smile a mile wide cross her face, the satisfaction that she did it. Pulling for the underdog is one of my favorite things to do.

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