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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Youth sports: No harm in letting kids hope, dream


Your kids will never make the pros. Your kids will never get a scholarship to play sports. The odds and the percentages of either of these two happening are staggering.
Somebody forgot to tell that to Steven Lenhart, or “Stevo” as the locals call him. I had the opportunity to meet Stevo this past weekend and hear his story. Math was never his strong subject in school so trying to understand that the percentages were not in his favor to make the pros was like trigonometry to many of us.

Stevo loved playing sports as a kid. He dabbled with most of them. He wasn’t great at any of them; he just loved to have fun.
In the fifth grade, he lost his starting spot at second base to a girl. (She was the coach’s daughter!)
He soon found out that his favorite sport was soccer and started to play more and more of it. He even got to be pretty good at it. He started to play on local soccer club teams in his community and really grew to love the sport. The fact that he didn’t lose his starting position to a girl even encouraged him more.
Then that moment came that happens to all too many kids: He found out he probably wasn’t as good as all the others. His high school friends made the varsity team when they were freshmen and sophomores, but not Stevo. As a junior, he finally made the varsity team. But, he didn’t get much playing time as a junior or a senior at Esperanza High School, in Yorba Linda, Calif.
“I stayed because all my friends were on the team”, he said to me when I asked him why he didn’t just quit the team.
During his senior year, he got cut from his club soccer team.
At this point you would have thought that someone would have broken the news to him that playing soccer in college was not going to be an option for him. If someone did, then Stevo forgot to listen, because he made the team as a walk-on at Point Loma University.
He transferred to Azusa Pacific University his second year of college. It was here that he finally came into his own. A late bloomer at its best! He had a very successful career at Azusa Pacific even to the point that he was awarded the “National Player of the Year” for NAIA soccer.
A few months later he received a phone call from the Columbus Crew telling him that they just selected him in the draft.
He did it! He made it to the professional soccer ranks.
He didn’t play much at the start, until one day the coach put him in the game. He scored his first professional goal within his first two minutes on the field.
He is now a starter for the Crew.
So, even though the odds are stacked up against your kids, we can always let them dream and set high goals. Then, we as parents and coaches get the privilege to guide them and walk beside them as they dream.
We can teach that there is always hope out there somewhere.
And, find teams for your kids to play on where the coach’s daughter isn’t on the team!