Balancing Family for Success

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    • Norm, I think that this can be done well. I think as athletes we tend to think about things from a limited perspective. I know Anthony Washington was able to throw, have a full time job, and several kids. I think family makes you realize what you need to do vs. What is nice to do.

      I know many throwers that used family as an excuse for quitting the sport, then proceeded to get involved in a coaching career. The coaching career generally called for more travel, more hours away from home, but provides them with more comfort and stability, I've spent anywhere from 10-25 hours per week training, depending on work....usually I threw better when training with high quality and short sessions.
    • family and throwing

      Balancing family and training is very important and can be done well. Speaking from my own experience I married my wife Ashley, who was a swimmer at ASU, in 2011, my first year as a professional. We had been dating for over three years already so she knew going into it that I would have a crazy travel schedule. Her being an athlete helped a lot also as she understood the sacrifices involved in getting very good at something. Generally I am pretty lax but I do have some personal rules I like to follow that she has gone along with. Firstly I Won't do any activity that will jeopardize my physical health, I won't ski, ice skate, or play any strenuous extracurricular sports that I feel like I could get hurt doing. I also have the stipulation for my entire family when on trips to big meets that I will do nothing I don't feel will benefit my performance. My wife understands and my family understands because I openly talk about it. I liken it most closely to "hey I don't barge into your most important presentation of they year and demand you go on a hike at that moment" it works because they are on board with what I do. On the other side of the coin I try my best in the off season to be with my family, I go on vacation with them and try to focus time on them. It has become very balanced. From the outset it will be much easier if you talk to your significant other about it as early as possible. If they aren't on board, it will be extremely tough, I promise. I know that Reese, Adam, Christian, and Cory all have very supportive wives/families.

      Last summer my life got a whole lot better and more complicated when my son Charlie was born in June, 2 days before Rome diamond league and 3 weeks before US nationals. My wife and I knew full well going into it that it wouldn't be easy. I didn't go to Rome, even though it would have firmed up my diamond league points lead, I wanted to be home with my son and help my wife out. We knee that three weeks later I had to go qualify for worlds. My wife was wonderful about getting less sleep in those three weeks (and beyond) so that I could get more and perform well. This went on to Moscow, I was gone for a month of the first three months of my son's life. It was hard for me being away, but even harder for her at home getting used to being a mom. She let me get ready for Moscow and when I got 2nd and was disappointed she supported me unconditionally. I cut out a few meets at the end of the season because I felt that I had already put myself in a position for the #1 world ranking. After my last meet in Brussels I spent a month and a half just with my wife and son. It is a balance, and it really is all about communication. I am gone roughly 100 days a year, but when I am home, I am present, and try to help. I am very lucky in that this is my only job and that where I train (PSU) is extremely flexible. As I type this I am sitting in Frankfurt airport for my first trip of the year, I miss my family, but I also know they are behind me 100%.
    • For me, I try to compartmentalize my family duties and those of my occupation. It took a while for me to come to the conclusion that I could indeed be both. After my daughter was born, everything changed. It may sound cliché... until you have a kid. Everything from that point forward is for them, so tossing a hammer around seemed a little trivial for a while.

      Putting my responsibilities in compartments seemed easier to me than admitting that 100% to one part of my life means I can't put 100% to the other. (I think "compartments" is a fancy word for ignoring for me, :) ). I was angry with myself for wanting to put my needs first during the 2012 campaign. The Olympic year was very different than last years injury ravaged season. I was training extremely well early 2012. After closing the 2011 season in October with a PanAm record, I expected to not only PB, but medal in London.

      The moral of my story is: I love throwing the hammer. I love my family. While I do what I can without sacrificing either, if I had to, I'd stop throwing before I'm finished writing this post. I'm fortunate to not have to do that on anyone else's terms other than my own because of my amazing wife and great family support system.

      Supportive families are the common denominator in having good balance as an athlete and family. And if family means slightly less success, so be it.